Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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April 2013 Archive for Disaster relief

RSS By: Pastor Craig Miller

Disaster relief coordinator Pastor Craig Miller shares disaster relief information in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Six months after Hurricane Sandy

Apr 22, 2013

The Fifth Sunday after Easter falls almost exactly six months after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in our metropolitan New York area. For many, the long road of recovery hardly feels like we are in a time of resurrection. The losses are still fresh: many still have not returned to their homes; rebuilding is slow; resources are running low; questions remain as to how high to raise homes, and who will pay for it all? Although a great deal of work remains to rebuild our communities, many who had come to help have begun to move on to other disasters. This is the time when despair grows.


Into the hopelessness of this difficult recovery, John of Patmos shares his vision of "a new heaven and a new earth." God is doing something new and we are a part of that new creation. "See, the home of God is among mortals." The storm may wash away homes and goods, but it cannot take us from God. In fact, God goes where precisely where we need God most, into the places of despair and hopelessness.


"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). In less than two months, volunteers from ELCA congregations around the country will begin to flood the metropolitan New York area to help our rebuilding efforts. They are a sign of God’s loving and healing presence to those who have suffered loss in the storm.


"God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away" (Rev. 21:3-4). The loving presence of brothers and sisters opens our eyes to God’s new creation being born in our midst. Many in our synod are used to bringing this good news to others. Now, even as we saw in the month following the storm when Lutheran World Federation partners and our companion diocese came to us, those whom we have helped to see the new heaven and new earth will return that gift to us.


The storm surge brought the dark waters into homes and washed away many possessions. Jesus promises to give water as a gift. No longer something to be feared, this is the water of life. Returning to a theme from the Fourth Week of Easter, it is the "still waters" that restores our souls.


Finally, through the loving work of recovery that we enter together with those who were most impacted by the storm, we come to praise God along with all creation. We learn to join our voices even with the "stormy wind fulfilling his command!" (Psalm 148:8)



A Prayer for the 5th Sunday of Easter, 2013

Annemarie Noto

Gracious God, you are the Lord of hosts, the god of Jacob, our refuge and strength.

Yet six months ago, today, many of us felt abandoned. 

The Storm "Sandy" had changed our geography. 

We prayed the psalm: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Homes and properties and lives were changed. 

Mountains shook in the heart of the sea,

waters roared and foamed, the lines demarking sea from shore disappeared. 

But then it was as if the angels descended from on high. 

Congregations here and in distant places organized work crews.

They came by car and truck, and busload, overwhelming us with their love and generosity.

God, you did hear our cries; the light has begun to shine in the darkness.

Yet, we are not finished. 

Recovery can take years, but we are being strengthened daily.

The light of your love, your Son, who overcame his storm:

That is the peace that passes all understanding.



Download additional worship resources from Lutheran Disaster Response.


One hundred and fifty days

Apr 03, 2013

The recent announcements from FEMA that they have extended registration deadlines and Temporary Housing Assistance remind us that we are still in the intermediate phase of disaster recovery. We continue to assess damages: physical, emotional and economic. Long-Term Recovery Groups have been developing. The process of recovery is slow, but we can see progress.


Five congregations of our synod experienced flooding in the storm. St. Barnabas in Howard Beach had the greatest damage and continues to struggle to accomplish over $250,000 worth of repairs. They have completed renvoating most of the parish house basement but still have to finish the church basement with its large kitchen. Pastor Baum and members of the congregation are working hard to find monies to pay for the needed repairs, including relocating the building’s electrical service upstairs away from any future flooding. In Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, St. James has begun its repairs as well. After treating the church basement for mold, they are putting up sheetrock and installing kitchen cabinets and appliances. Progress at these churches is a hopeful sign, but we still have a long way to go.


Thanks to help from congregations in our synod and from other partners, St. John’s by the Sea in Long Beach, St. Paul’s in Coney Island, and Trinity Lower East Side have all recovered quickly from the storm damage. Most of the restorations have been completed at their facilities, with only a few small projects left.


Out on the North Fork of Long Island, St. Peter’s, Greenport, experienced damage to its roof. They have made temporary repairs but need over $50,000 – less than their insurance deductible – to make a permanent fix.


The damage to buildings tells only part of the story, however. Congregations in Freeport, Oceanside, Seaford, Massapequa, Baldwin, Cedarhurst, and other towns along the south shore of Long Island have seen members relocated sometimes far from their congregations. Those who have remained or who have returned find it difficult to continue their former patterns of giving in the congregation because all of their resources are going to repair their homes.


Our congregations in the storm-damaged areas continue to need our support; contributions, prayers, and companionship are important in these days. The synod prayer team is providing resources for our congregations and members to hold one another in prayer as we approach six months from the storm (April 28). Financial contributions to the synod’s Sandy appeal will help us to support all these ministries. Together we will weather this storm.

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