By Kim Plummer Krull
Floodwaters rose so quickly that one member family of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Golconda, Ill., barely had time to grab some clothing before joining rescuers in a motorboat.
“This is the worst flooding since 1937,” said Rev. E. James Rivett, pastor at the Southern Illinois church near the Ohio River. At least three member families are among those in that area forced to evacuate this spring because of heavy rains feeding already high rivers.
Rivett is staying in close touch with the families, three older adult couples temporarily living with friends and relatives. “They are all worried about what they are going to find when they can get back into their homes,” said the pastor, whose congregation is collecting cleaning supplies and organizing volunteers to help with cleanup efforts once the families can return to their homes.
One couple, who lives on a fixed income, has been out of their home for nearly two weeks. When their pastor visited, the husband’s eyes filled with tears. “He said, ‘The Lord knew we needed help,’ and I said, ‘Yes, and here we are,'” Rivett said.
The congregation also plans to participate in community relief efforts as part of a ministerial alliance with other Golconda churches.
The town has five churches, but on Sunday, May 8, Our Redeemer Lutheran was one of only two to hold services when the Ohio River quickly rose and area floodgates were closed. Stranded guests and visitors from other denominations were among those who took part in worship.
“They were very appreciative to join us, and the Lord blessed us as we offered a word of encouragement,” Rivett said.
As he reaches out to suffering families and deals with his own storm-damaged roof, Rivett said he was “delighted” to hear from LCMS World Relief and Human Care’s (WR-HC) Rev. Carlos Hernandez. Hernandez provided information about how Our Redeemer could apply for a WR-HC disaster-response grant to assist both congregation and community members with emergency needs.
LCMS Southern Illinois President Rev. Timothy Scharr contacted Hernandez about the flooding in Golconda. “We always want to hear from district presidents and pastors about congregations hit hard by disasters,” said Hernandez from Huntsville, Ala., where he and the WR-HC Disaster Response team continues to assess needs and offer pastoral care in communities struggling to recover from this spring’s historic tornadoes.
“We’re staying busy responding to so many needs right now, but we always want to be supportive of our pastors whose families are affected,” he said. “We want to help them so they can reach out in their congregations and then move forward to help their communities.”
To make a gift to help WR-HC assist families suffering from historic floods:
- Mail checks (noting “Spring Floods 2011” in the memo line) to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- Call toll-free 888-930-4438.
- Donate online (click here).
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
This story was produced by LCMS World Relief and Human Care.
Posted May 16, 2011