A Note from Our Pastor

Dear Friends in Christ,

The last month we have been reading about and watching on television or the internet a series of natural disasters that have hit both our own country and the Caribbean and Mexico. Hurricane Harvey did most of its damage in Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Irma devastated Florida and parts of Georgia as well as many islands in the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria literally destroyed the infrastructure of Puerto Rico after just barely recovering from Irma, Mexico was hit by two earthquakes and an unnamed tropical storm, and the western part of the United States is coping with a wide range of wild fires burning uncontrolled. Nature unleashes its fury at the most inconvenient places – where people live. Lives are lost, livelihoods destroyed, homes and possessions ruined. Besides the destruction itself, one of the most vivid images for me is the race tracks in Texas where 500,000 water logged cars await their fate. Unimaginable, but real.

I learned something over the past couple of weeks that has been helpful in my understanding of how the church responds to these disasters. You sometimes hear that the Southern Baptist Church has sent crews to provide immediate response or that another denomination has sent portable kitchens to feed those who have been displaced. I have always wondered about the United Church of Christ since I am aware that we have disaster relief offerings as well. But you don’t hear much about our denomination.

What I have learned is that the various denominations within the United States have each taken responsibility for organizing a part of the disaster relief work. So the Southern Baptist Church is responsible for the “chain saw crew”, the first responders to disaster; there are many people from other denominations who participate but under the organizational structure and guidelines of the Southern Baptists. Other denominations take responsibility for the portable kitchens, child care, and all the other necessary responses to disasters. The United Church of Christ takes responsibility for long term rebuilding and rehabilitation of homes after the initial disaster response. So we are highly involved, although not as publicly as some other denominations; and the work of the United Church of Christ involves years long commitment. I am proud that my denomination is so deeply involved. And I thought you should know about this as well. It makes sense that the various denominations would share the load and take responsibility for particular portions of disaster relief rather than duplicate efforts and get in each other’s way and become “territorial” about responding.

Disaster relief work, both financial support for immediate needs and for the long term rebuilding, is funded through our contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing. One hundred percent of contributions to OGHS go toward this work, since all the administrative costs are handled by your support of Our Church’s Wider Mission (our annual commitment to the denomination as a whole). If you would like to contribute toward disaster relief efforts in the knowledge that your support will be completely used to help those whose lives have been torn apart by hurricane and earthquake and fire, you can do so by marking your check for “Disaster Relief” and either send it to the church office or put it in the offering plate.

Pastor George

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Pastor George P. Heberling
Pastor George P. Heberling