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Thank God – the Connection at Work

The tree protrudes massively through the wall of the preschool classroom. Just before the tree’s impact in the swirling tornado winds, Pastor Will Cotton (with an outstanding Children’s Ministry and Preschool staff) had led 82 children to safe interior rooms singing Jesus Loves Me. There is so much to say in thanksgiving even as we surveyed the wreckage of major segments of the church (including parts of the sanctuary) on Wednesday morning.  We thank God that all were spared; we thank God that an outstanding staff placed the welfare of the children above their own; we thank God for the wisdom of a thought through and practiced (!) disaster plan; we thank God for cool heads and calm hearts in the face of a disaster; we thank God for the ongoing faithfulness of the pastors and members of St. Barnabas. In the face of the storm’s damage, the great United Methodist Connection is at work bringing healing and recovery not only to the church but to the community as well.  Shortly after news was broadcast, we received a call from Rev. Cynthia Harvey, Associate General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries and head of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) offering support and help.  Wednesday morning (before heading over to St. Barnabas) under the guidance of our Center for Mission Support (a huge thanks to Dawne Phillips and Randy Wild), I sent off the necessary paperwork for an immediate $10,000 grant from UMCOR for rebuilding the community.  Rev. Laraine Waughtal, pastor of Bluff Dale/Morgan Mill and Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Central Texas Conference, was already on the scene assessing damages and coordinating volunteer efforts.  Our Conference emergency relief has joined with UMCOR to provide another $10,000 for immediate aid and assistance.  Truly, the godly connection of the United Methodist Church is at work.  Apportionment dollars and special relief offerings (both volunteer and financial!) are life-giving offers of divine love and hope! I offer my thanks to all who have lifted prayers, offered support, or volunteered in disaster relief.  If you feel called to do so, you can make a financial contribution to any upcoming relief effort 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. During this emergency response phase, only trained Emergency Responders are allowed into the areas of damage.  To find information about training to become an ERT or to sign-up to be involved as a volunteer after the emergency stage has passed, please go to the Central Texas Conference web-site. This may feel like a Good Friday world but Easter is coming!