By Kim Plummer Krull
When the warning siren started blaring, Janet Kresl barely had time to dive behind her couch before a tornado tore the roof off her home in Dwight, Ill.
“You go to her house now, look up, and see blue sky,” said Rev. Jacob Ehrhard, associate pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Dwight, where Kresl is the church organist.
Emmanuel is among several LCMS congregations whose members and communities are dealing with damages after a string of strong tornadoes ripped through the Midwest on June 5. In Dwight, about 70 miles south of Chicago, Emmanuel is reaching out to people affected by the storms, including residents of a devastated mobile home park.
“Those people are among the most destitute in town, and most of their homes are completely destroyed,” Ehrhard said. Emmanuel is working on plans to provide assistance, including a fund drive to replace household appliances.
The tornado also damaged many homes in Streator, Ill., 20 miles west of Dwight. “The damage is quite extensive, with four or five home completely leveled and more than 30 significantly damaged,” said Rev. John Gutz, pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The church secretary’s apartment building sustained heavy damage and she is among those displaced by the storm.
Holy Trinity is hosting vacation Bible school this week and has designated that mission outreach donations go to help people with tornado recovery needs.
In Ohio, a tornado also touched down about three miles from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Liberty Center, Ohio. Rev. Keith Witte reported that at least 30 houses in that community were completely destroyed and a couple of members’ homes have minor damage.
LCMS World Relief and Human Care has been in contact with congregations and district disaster response coordinators in impacted states to offer assistance. In Northern Illinois, the Synod’s mercy arm is working with LCMS District Disaster Response Co-Coordinators Tim Hetzner and Dianna Bonfield of Lutheran Church Charities (LCC), an LCMS Recognized Service Organization. LCC staff met with pastors and city officials in Dwight and Streator to discuss needs and are assisting with cleanup efforts.
“Right now, LCMS pastors, laypeople, and district disaster response coordinators are hard at work tending to the needs of Lutherans and others severely affected by these storms,” said Rev. Matthew Harrison, LCMS World Relief and Human Care executive director. “That’s what the body of Christ does in these circumstances. ‘As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those of the household of faith’ (Gal. 6:10).”
For more information or to see photos from LCC’s response efforts, visit http://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org. To volunteer with LCC’s cleanup efforts, visit http://lcc.ccbchurch.com/app/w_form_response.php?form_id=471.
To make a gift that shares Christ’s mercy and helps those affected by recent tornadoes in the Midwest, give online at http://givenowlcms.org, call toll-free 888-930-4438, or mail donations marked “Tornado Disaster Relief” to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
Kim Pummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
Posted June 10, 2010