A Message from Bishop Lewis
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As we hear and see the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Ian, I am asking the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church to remember our sisters and brothers in Florida and other states bracing for this hurricane. In front of such natural disasters, we realize how fragile life can be. However, we also see how we embody the strength to overcome all disasters as people of God. Therefore I ask the Virginia Conference to pray and prepare as we approach the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Pray – Remember the people affected by this hurricane. Join in their loss through prayer, as it says in Romans 12:15b “…and cry with those who are crying” (CEB). We ask churches to remember the people as we worship the Lord who makes us one. You may use this prayer written and presented by the Rev. Crystal R. Sygeel, Associate Director for Call and Candidacy of the Virginia Conference.
God of the Seas, God of the Wind,
Our Scriptures tell of an awful flood.
Of waters that overwhelmed the earth.
It was you who called your servant Noah
to build an ark, a vessel of rescue
for the people, the animals of your creation.
Today, we face another water event of cataclysmic proportion.
Before Hurricane Ian ever made landfall
coastlines and city streets,
factories and fields,
houses and hot spots
were torn up, blown down, and washed away.
As Ian makes tracks, we remember your word,
“You were not given a spirit of fear but of love.”
We mobilize to tie down, board up, and lash together.
We help pack clothes, food, pets, and phones.
We get families on the road.
We lend helping hands to those that remain.
Even before the torrents subside, we give you thanks:
for first responders who will answer emergency calls
for volunteers who will be a wave of a second response
for service providers who look to a time to offer meals, shelter, and aid.
We remember Christ’s words,
“When you helped those in need, you helped me.”
We lift your people who are suffering from Ian’s devastation:
those without water, electricity, or sanctuary from the storm..
We ask your hand be upon them as we offer our own hands in service.
For the lives already lost, we remember your promise,
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
For their loved ones, we ask for your comfort and peace.
In the time of Noah,
You dried up the water, you placed a rainbow in the sky
In our time, we ask the same
That the land return, that homes are restored
That work resumes, that “the ties that bind” endure,
That your banner of grace and love remains over us always.
In your holy name, we pray,
Prepare to help
- UMCOR Disaster Response Advance We are all connected through the grace of God. We are also one body through the connectional system called The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) offers relief to the people devastated by the hurricane on behalf of the local church. To help UMCOR become the hands and feet of Jesus this time, remember that you can join their effort by giving to the US Disaster Response and Recovery Advance # 901670. Churches can send a second-mile giving to the conference center, which will be delivered directly to UMCOR.
- 2022 Cleaning Kit Collection – Virginia Conference responded to UMCOR’s call in early September to replenish the cleaning kit stockpile in UMCOR storage. The cleaning kit, also known as the hurricane bucket, is an essential tool in the aftermath of a hurricane. We ask churches to continue collecting the cleaning kits so that UMCOR can continue their work. For more information about the kit collection and how to join, visit www.vaumc.org/2022cleaningkit
- Recovery Effort – Recovery effort takes a long time. We ask all churches to use this time to be patient and advise them not to make hast decisions, such as self-deployment. When there is a call from our neighboring conferences, we will make announcements for any needs. In the meantime, we ask our churches to utilize the resources available through the VAUMC Disaster Response team. How Can Our Church Respond to a Disaster
We are thankful for your prayers and preparation as we walk with the ones affected by Hurricane Ian.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis