VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 9/4/20)—Since Aug. 10, forces of nature have caused extensive loss among American Baptists and the communities where they live and serve. Calling for our prayers and active response are dangerous winds and rain in the Midwest, which severely impacted parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana; fires in western states, primarily California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado; and Hurricane Laura on the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana.
ABHMS staff have been closely monitoring the situations and communicating with regional executives and other ministry partners in all these states, expressing concern and support for them.
CrossWalk Community Church has been the primary shelter for California’s Napa County for decades and has responded during two floods, two earthquakes and three fires. At CrossWalk, evacuees can register with the county for essential services and updates, receive counseling from two different local agencies, get meals delivered, and receive gift cards to help pay for necessities.
“Currently, CrossWalk is open as a shelter, but with COVID-19 in play, all evacuees have been housed in hotel rooms,” says the Rev. Pete Shaw, CrossWalk’s senior pastor. “The church’s sanctuary and gym are filled with socially-distanced cots in the event things turn much worse. In the meantime, a steady stream of people are coming in for help—especially the most vulnerable, who we, as Jesus-followers, are especially called to serve.”
The Rev. Dr. Airon Reynolds of Borden Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Beaumont, Texas, is too familiar with Gulf Coast storms. He and his church cared for Louisiana families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, rebuilt when Beaumont was struck by Hurricanes Rita and Harvey, and now, they are weathering Hurricane Laura. Reynolds and his family evacuated Beaumont but will return as soon as possible to assist with providing emergency services because Borden Chapel is an emergency shelter for the community.
“In the moment,” Reynolds says, “I am asking for prayers, as we watch and wait to see what the damages will be once the storm passes.”
ABHMS recognizes that the frequency and scope of these natural disasters is increasing and that American Baptists are seeking ways to offer support.
Donations can be made online, via your church or with a check payable to American Baptist Home Mission Societies and mailed to the attention of Kim Wilkins at American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406.
Two options are available for One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) donations:
- For those who want to donate to all the areas in the United states and Puerto Rico that have been impacted by 2020 natural disasters, write “Domestic Storms, Fires and Floods” on the memo line of your check.
- To designate donations to a recent specific disaster indicate “California Fires,” “Hurricane Laura” or “Midwest Floods and Storms” on the memo line of your check.
One hundred percent of OGHS donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs.
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by churches.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.