By Kim Plummer Krull
When the Rev. Bart Day arrived in battered New Minden, Ill., he saw “a lot of devastation for a small community, but at the same time a huge outpouring of people from the congregation and community wanting to help.”
“Over 100 volunteers were on the ground, cleaning up not only at the church but using the church as a hub for cleanup efforts,” said Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission, who was in New Minden Nov. 19 to check on tornado response work begun by St. John’s Lutheran Church and disaster-response coordinators with the LCMS Southern Illinois District.
Plans are in the works for Day to present a $10,000 emergency grant from LCMS Disaster Response to St. John’s on Nov. 20 to help survivors get back on their feet after deadly Nov. 17 storms that ripped through Illinois and four other states.
St. John’s “asked for emergency dollars to be used right now,” said Day, who will make the presentation at a communitywide prayer vigil at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoyleton. “They want to reach out in tangible ways as soon as possible – including with gift cards to help with shelter, food and clothing.”
The prayer vigil will be held at Trinity because the storms’ damage toll included St. John’s, a charter congregation of the LCMS in 1846. High winds toppled the steeple and tore much of the roof from the building.
Carpenters had begun work at the church, Day said, covering the roof so the building can be assessed for structural damage.
At St. John’s request, Day also will deliver 200 copies of a special Portals of Prayer to assist people in times of disaster. The congregation plans to share the booklets in the community.
More New Minden area families who lost homes in the storms have come to the congregation’s attention, Day said. That number has increased to 13 families, he said, including six St. John’s member families.
Two elderly people who live near St. John’s died in the storms. Congregants plan to reach out to the victims’ relatives, who also lost their mobile home in the devastation.
The Rev. Carlos Hernandez, director of LCMS Community Engagement, is expected to arrive in Peoria, Ill., on Nov. 20 to determine how best to assist LCMS Central Illinois District congregations and partners in reaching out with Christ’s mercy to people in need.
Plans are to meet at Redeemer Lutheran Church with pastors from six Peoria area congregations affected by the storms, including the Rev. Thomas Heren, pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church, in hard-hit Washington.
The storms severely damaged Our Savior and the church parsonage was destroyed, Day said.
Recognizing that recovery will be a long-haul effort, St. John’s in New Minden already is working on a second grant request to help with long-term needs, according to the Rev. John Fale, associate executive director of LCMS Mercy Operations. Fale has been in close contact with the Rev. Timothy Mueller, St. John’s pastor, since the tornadoes.
To make a gift in support of LCMS Disaster Response:
- Visit here.
- Mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster Relief” or “Tornado Relief”) to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- Call toll-free 888-930-4438 (8:10 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday).
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.