Since last Saturday, North Texans have endured 139 hours of temperatures below freezing, widespread electricity outages, burst water pipes and extensive property damage. Such suffering spread across all points of Texas and to many other nearby areas. I continue to pray for families who have lost loved ones and for our communities that will not truly realize the extent of damage until they thaw out.
Still, the destructive forces of Mother Nature could not deter the good work and ministries of United Methodists who call North Texas home. As always, I am grateful for our clergy and laity who continue to do extraordinary work and find creative ways to serve their communities. From opening churches as warming stations to distributing water and blankets to those who were left without, you were the light that so many needed during times of utter darkness and despair.
Subfreezing temperatures and several inches of snow cannot slow down the ministry of our churches, but there still is great work to be done. Here are a few examples of how you and your church can continue to be in ministry with our neighbors who undoubtedly will need assistance in the coming weeks:
Make a gift to the North Texas Disaster Relief Fund, proceeds from which will be used to support churches and communities that have suffered the effects of the winter storm. This past week, the North Texas Conference donated $25,000 from this fund to support collaborative sheltering efforts in Dallas that shielded the homeless population from the bitter cold and provided them warm meals.
Help a fellow church member, a neighbor suffering loss or in need of a helping hand, another local church in your area or partner with an agency that serves people in your community.
Rev. Clay Womack, a retired elder in the North Texas Conference, recently began serving as the conference’s interim Disaster Response Coordinator. He will be lining up available trained Early Response Teams (ERTs) to respond to requests for homeowner assistance requiring particular expertise in water clean out or tree and debris removal, as well as providing basic instruction resources in home muck out and debris removal for general groups of volunteers.
Please reach out to Rev. Womack via email if you learn of a situation that could benefit from the specialized skills of an early response team.
In his letter to the people of Corinth, Paul said, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). This embodies the very definition of community: that we come together – during good times and bad – to make better the situation for all.
I pray that you find peace and comfort in the days ahead knowing that God and your neighbors will provide.