By Kim Krull
As weather-watchers warily brace for the official June 1 launch of this year’s hurricane season, LCMS World Relief/Human Care announced totals that reflect the devastation as well as the Christian care and concern sparked by last year’s record-breaking storms.
By mid-March, the ministry had committed nearly $12 million in grants to assist damaged congregations and communities, including:
- More than $6 million in distributed grants, including grants to the LCMS Southern, Florida-Georgia, and Texas districts for emergency response and evacuee assistance after Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Rita and to Orphan Grain Train for disaster-aid transportation;
- Some $4.2 million in committed grants, primarily designated for continuing hurricane-related needs for the Southern District and support for Lutheran Disaster Response, and for matching grants to districts providing hurricane relief;
- Another $1.7 million in uncommitted grants, earmarked to meet requests for hurricane-related needs in the Southern District.
As of Dec. 31, 2005, donors had contributed $12,269,362 to LCMS World Relief/Human Care for hurricane relief.
“Our brothers and sisters in Christ are still hurting, even as they give of themselves in reaching others with Christ’s love,” said Rev. Matthew Harrison, executive director of the Synod’s international mercy ministry. “We are amazed at the outpouring by the LCMS people, and particularly by LCMS districts. This deep challenge also has been a bright moment for the Synod.”
Every LCMS district has participated in hurricane-relief matching partnerships established by LCMS World Relief/Human Care to assist congregations, schools and professional church workers (including retirees) in affected districts. Districts have provided volunteers, supplies and/or funds, with the latter matched by LCMS World Relief/Human Care through the ministry’s Partnership In Renewal program.
LCMS World Relief/Human Care has distributed $600,000 and committed another $1.4 million in Partnership In Renewal matching grants to districts. The purpose of the matching-grant program is to increase funds from districts to benefit their hurricane-relief partners.
In addition to money, people have donated their time and energy to hurricane relief efforts. More than 5,000 volunteers have tackled cleanup and repairs through Lutheran Disaster Response volunteer camps headquartered at LCMS churches in Louisiana (Atonement, Metairie, and Lamb of God, Slidell) and Mississippi (Good Shepherd, Biloxi, which operates a volunteer camp in partnership with Bethel, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation).
“The love and care that have been showered on those in hurricane-affected areas has been incredible to see,” said Deaconess Rachel Mumme, who coordinates hurricane-relief volunteers and district partnerships for LCMS World Relief/Human Care.
Mumme visited the Metairie and Slidell camps in December.
“There are volunteers who have been working at the camps since October and have plans to stay as long as they are needed,” she said. “Volunteers have come from all over, with one goal: to help. And they are!”
Since Labor Day weekend, LCMS World Relief/Human Care has provided some $700,000 in supplies (including food, bottled water, medical supplies, and toiletries) for the volunteer camps, delivered in 22 shipments in partnership with Orphan Grain Train.
But nearly five months after the official Nov. 30 close of last year’s hurricane season, relief needs continue. Among the most urgent, Mumme said, are:
- Volunteers, both short- and long-term, for cleanup and reconstruction projects. “When volunteers muck out a house, removing everything from carpet to refrigerators to drywall, they can help beleaguered homeowners save from $3,000 to $5,000,” Mumme said.
- Non-perishable food and supplies to distribute through the food bank at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Biloxi, which daily serves hundreds of people who have lost homes and jobs. (Call Donna Fischer, distribution manager, at 228-365-7137.)
- Financial support, for LCMS churches and schools ruined or harmed by the storms and for individuals who are just beginning to piece their lives back together.
“These gifts of love that come from so many go a long way in bringing Christ’s mercy and hope back into the devastation in the Gulf Coast region,” Mumme said.
Posted April 10, 2006