by Vance Morton*
It seems that one of the few things that can match the speed and power of a tornado like the ones that swept through North Texas Tuesday afternoon is the generous and giving spirit of the people of the Central Texas Conference (CTC). Your eagerness to provide assistance in whatever manner is required has been tremendous – not surprising by any stretch, but tremendous all the same. Those who are taking the lead in pulling together the official response and relief plan of action would like to thank all of you who have already offered your assistance for your patience as they worked with the staff at St. Barnabas, city of Arlington and Tarrant County emergency response officials, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the North Texas Conference Early Response Team to determine the best course of action for all involved. At this time, no immediate call to action has been determined. (the photo to the right is courtsey of Bishop Lowry. The children of the St. Barnabas school were in a hallway directly below this destruction.)
Of course, the best course of action for any and all who’d like to help is to invoke the mighty power of prayer. Please keep those affected as well as those who are working to provide immediate and long-term relief in your prayers.
For those who feel the need to immediately provide assistance, you can make a financial contribution to any upcoming relief efforts via your local church. Please reference Fund No.4495 and/or Disaster Relief on your check or donation envelope. Fund No. 4495 of the official conference remittance form is for aid, assistance, relief, rebuilding and ministry within the Central Texas Conference. The conference is also partnering with UMCOR who is providing some initial funding and administrative support.
Here is the latest on relief efforts and volunteer opportunities as of 4:30 p.m. CDT.
- The City of Arlington has made a specific request that volunteers not cross the barricades as it is still operating at the “Emergency Relief Stage. Residents have been asked to personally escort their personal guests into the area, which is an indication that it is not yet time for uninvited, even well-intentioned groups to seek out relief work in neighborhoods as the work to make the area safe for volunteers continues.
- It is the intent of the Central Texas Conference to honor the requests from city and county officials to hold off any organized volunteer efforts until the affected neighborhoods are deemed safe.
- The CTC Disaster Response team is in regular communication with Tarrant County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) via twice daily teleconferences and will let churches know immediately when the city officials believes it is safe for un-trained groups to become involved.
- The conference’s immediate response will be carried out by those persons who have already completed an official Early Response Training Course (visit the CTC Disaster Response page for more information on how to become an official ERT volunteer).
For those who would like to volunteer, but haven’t completed an ERT training course, please click here and fill out the short form and talent survey so that your name can be added to the database of volunteers for future relief efforts that don’t require official ERT training.
Please continue to check back with ctcumc.org for updates on the relief efforts.
Update 10:30 a.m., April 5:
Sorry if the moniker of “update” turns out to be a tease because the following contains no new information regarding relief efforts and volunteer opportunities. Those details are not expected until late this afternoon. This update is strictly to let all those concerned that the spirit of the people of St. Barnabas and the Spirit of the church in general is alive and well even for those who took the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury Tuesday, April 3. This photo to the left is a banner that has been put up close to the damaged buildings of St. Barnabas. It just goes to show (and with all apologies to the original author of the children’s “Here is the church, Here is the steeple…” rhyme) that you can blow off the doors and tear off the steeple, because the church isn’t a building, the church is its people.”
There is a local volunteer update posted on the St. Barnabas Facebook page: St. B members who wish to volunteer Saturday, April 7 to help remove debris from yards and/or home should call or text 682-888-6980. Please note that the posting specifically asks for St. Barnabas members and that this is not an official Conference Emergency Response team event.