Needs from Superstorm Sandy arise
Missouri Synod offers initial $35,500 to help victims
ST. LOUIS, November 2, 2012— The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has awarded a $15,000 emergency grant to the LCMS Atlantic District to help those in need of food, shelter, clothing and other personal items following Superstorm Sandy.
The LCMS also awarded a $10,000 grant to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti – an LCMS partner church – and $10,500 to the Cuban Mission Society to help replace roofs and for water filtration systems to help in the storm’s aftermath.
The LCMS Atlantic District disaster team is developing a plan to respond to the overwhelming needs of the area. The plan will focus considerable attention on a group of about 300 people from the Rockaways area of New York City who were displaced by the storm and fire.
An LCMS Disaster Response assessment team has been meeting with district and congregation leaders on the East Coast this week to assess needs and determine the best response.
“Our response to Sandy has shown us that planning, collaboration and communication is working, and working well,” said the Rev. John Fale, the LCMS’s associate executive director, Mercy Operations. “District staff have been phenomenal, as have parish pastors and school principals and teachers. We thank God that for the most part, our schools and congregations are unscathed. They are poised to be ministry and staging centers in their neighborhoods and communities. Many are coming forward and asking how they can help.
“When you think about it,” Fale continued, “this is an opportunity for local LCMS congregations to serve many, many people who are not Christians with the love and mercy of God through the Gospel and disaster relief. We could not do this without blessing from our Lord, the prayers and generosity of our members and leadership across all sectors of our church body. I am in awe. Thanks be to God.”
No deaths of LCMS members have been reported. Only minimal damage has been reported at this time about LCMS congregations; however, damage reports are still coming in from church workers and congregation members.
The Massapequa, N.Y., home of the Rev. Alan Steinke, pastor of and his wife, Marie, was severely damaged by the storm. The Steinkes had lived there for 13 years.
“It was like a Salvador Dali painting,” said Steinke. “It was surreal. It was unbelievable.”
The LCMS Atlantic District is assisting the couple. They are staying in a hotel.
In Bayville, N.J., a Village Lutheran Church family has substantial damage to their home.
On Oct. 31, the LCMS team met with LCMS New Jersey District Disaster Response Director Rev. Don Brand in Union, N.J., and others from the state who were affected by the storm. LCMS staff also have been in contact with leaders of the New England, Eastern, Southeast, English and SELC Districts.
“We are blessed that while our churches have sustained some damage from the wind, none seem to be severely damaged, including True Light Lutheran Church, Manhattan, N.Y. There are still some we are checking on, especially on Staten Island,” wrote Atlantic District Disaster Coordinator Rev. Derek LeCakes in a Nov. 1 email.
LCMS Disaster Response staff are assisting the Eastern, English and SELC Districts, at their request, with contacting their church workers, congregations and schools. They are keeping a database of church workers in need and will work with their respective districts to get assistance.
Church workers in the Sandy-affected areas who have not yet been contacted by LCMS district offices are being encouraged to try to call or email their district offices. If they are unable to reach their respective district offices, they are asked to contact Tracy Quaethem with LCMS Disaster Response at email@example.com or 800-248-1930, ext. 1711.
LCMS Director of Disaster Response Rev. Glenn Merritt said that it is too early for volunteers, including chainsaw crews, to travel to the storm-affected areas. He stressed that material-good donations have not yet been determined. If and when these volunteers or material goods are needed, the LCMS will publicize the needs.
“The best thing people can do at this time is to give financial donations [that] can be used to provide immediate aid and assistance,” said Merritt.
- make an online gift (http://www.lcms.org/givenow/disaster);
- mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster Response”) to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861; or
- call toll-free 888-930-4438.
“What is really important is for us as the body of Christ in those places to be there first for the members of those churches and then especially for the people around that community, around that altar out in the community,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison in a video update to the church. “They are the objects of love and care. It’s very important for us as the body of Christ across the United States to come support these districts in their time of need and to support our pastors and congregations in these times of need.”
To view all the LCMS videos about Sandy, visit: http://video.lcms.org/archives/category/disaster-response.
Sandy left a wide swath of devastation along the East Coast, killing more than 70 in the United States, wiping away hundreds of waterfront homes, flooding streets and subway tunnels, littering neighborhoods with debris and leaving millions without electricity.
Already, damages from Sandy, which came ashore Monday night in New Jersey, are estimated to be in the billions. Hurricane Sandy first made landfall in the Caribbean Oct. 24 and has been credited with 69 deaths in Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
In the last five years, the LCMS has provided more than $35 million for domestic and international disaster response efforts. Keep up to date on the LCMS’ disaster response effort at www.lcms.org/disaster.
About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The 2.3 million-member Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis. Through acts of witness and mercy, the church carries out its mission worldwide to make known the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more at www.lcms.org.