By Megan K. Mertz
During an early-morning meeting Nov. 12, LCMS ministry staff in St. Louis and at remote locations in the U.S. and Asia met via phone to plan the first phases of the Synod’s disaster-relief strategy following Typhoon Haiyan.
After a prayer for all affected by the Philippine disaster that hit Nov. 8, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison addressed the group with words of encouragement and guidance. Reports about the situation on the ground in the Philippines, communications efforts and disaster fundraising were discussed to help guide the LCMS’ disaster-response efforts.
An eight-member team from the LCMS plans to depart for the Philippines Nov. 15. (See a related video here.) The team will include the Rev. Glenn Merritt and the Rev. Ross Johnson, directors of LCMS Disaster Response; the Rev. Michael Meyer, manager of LCMS Disaster Response; the Rev. Steven Schave, associate executive director of the Office of International Mission; Sean Harlow, LCMS missionary to the Philippines and Taiwan; Deaconess Pamela Nielsen, associate executive director of LCMS Communications; Rick Steenbock, an LCMS missionary communications specialist based in Germany; and Erik Lunsford, associate editor of Stakeholder Information with LCMS Communications.
Merritt, who has served as director of LCMS Disaster Response for eight years, said his objectives for the trip are to work collaboratively with members of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP), an LCMS partner church; to work in collaboration with LCMS staff members located in the Asia Pacific region; and “to get on the ground and see what the needs are as soon as possible.”
During a Nov. 13 sending service at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis, Harrison led a prayer for safe travels and God’s blessing on the team.
“Kind and loving Father, we beg you to send your holy angels to speed this mission of mercy and protect these brothers and sisters in Christ, that the journey will be in Your name,” Harrison prayed. “Through them may the suffering ones experience Your tender love and see not only hope for this present crisis but the joy of Your forgiveness in Christ Jesus.”
The team will operate out of the LCMS field office in Manila and make trips into the affected areas from there. Instructed to pack light, team members will take only basic essentials in their carry-on backpacks. Supplies will include anti-malarial medicines, mosquito nets, boots, durable clothing and some food.
In the Philippines, leaders of the LCP are working to coordinate lodging, transportation and security to accompany the LCMS-LCP joint team into the zones hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded.
In addition, three member churches of the International Lutheran Council have officially announced plans to raise funds for the Synod’s $50,000 matching grant opportunity to join in supporting those affected in the Philippines. They are Germany’s Independent Evangelical—Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church—Synod of France and the Japan Lutheran Church.
The LCMS has made available several new resources for those who want to learn more about its typhoon-relief efforts. These include:
- bulletin inserts and other typhoon-relief updates.
- a Typhoon Haiyan photo gallery.
Because the LCMS typically receives nearly half of its annual charitable support in the months of November and December, donors are encouraged to prayerfully consider a gift to LCMS Disaster Response that is in addition to any planned year-end gift intended to help sustain the ongoing witness and mercy work of the Synod.
To make a gift in support of LCMS Disaster Response:
- Visit here online.
- Mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster 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).
Megan K. Mertz is a staff writer with LCMS Communications.
Updated Nov. 14, 2013 / Nov. 16, 2013