By Megan Mertz
As recovery efforts continue on the East Coast following the ravages of Superstorm Sandy last fall, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod recently issued a new $70,000 grant to help 13 local families repair their storm-damaged homes and replace food and wages lost as a result of the disaster.
St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Manalapan, N.J., received the grant. The congregation’s pastor, the Rev. Michael Dunne, distributed grant checks on Sunday, May 19, to families in Monmouth County, one of the areas hit hardest by the storm.
One congregation member received a check for more than $25,000 to pay for repairs to her Seaside Park home. The first floor of her house suffered significant flood damage, and she lost her heating and air-conditioning systems as well as many major appliances. According to Dunne, this member did not have flood insurance and she received no assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In addition to the handful of congregation and community members who received significant sums to pay for repairs, several other people received smaller amounts to reimburse lost wages and spoiled food that resulted from the 11 days the community was without electricity.
This new grant is the most recent way that St. Thomas, with the support of the LCMS, has been able to help the community following Superstorm Sandy. Within weeks of the disaster, the congregation distributed almost $8,000 in gift cards to 53 area families to provide for immediate needs.
“These financial gifts provide a way to show we care and to extend the love of Christ to our neighbors in need,” said Dunne. “While these gifts won’t fix everything, they will help these families to continue with renovations and move toward some semblance of normalcy.”
To fund these local gifts, Dunne applied for an LCMS “emergency and relief” grant. St. Thomas is one of some 6,200 member congregations of the Synod, which provides disaster response and human-care ministry around the world through its Mercy Operations Group.
In the last nine years, the church body has awarded more than $31.7 million through 698 domestic and international grants for emergency response and disaster relief in the wake of events including the tsunami in Asia; Hurricane Katrina; earthquakes in Japan, Haiti and Chile; and Superstorm Sandy. To date for Sandy, the LCMS has provided more than $1.4 million in grants.
“There are many people throughout The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod who wish to participate in bringing tangible relief to those who suffer from disasters,” said the Rev. John Fale, associate executive director of the LCMS Mercy Operations Group. “Motivated by the love of Jesus and thankfulness for our blessings, we join together to help our local congregations and social ministry organizations reach out in their own neighborhoods with the mercy of God.”
Megan Mertz is a staff writer with LCMS Communications.