Wildfires have become a regular plague for the people of California. The year began with sweeping fires in January. More lives and homes were lost in July. And now the daily news captures images of fires as the year comes to a close. This is the season of holiday cards showing folks gathering around the table for a meal or around the hearth for stories. Kitchens, cards, hearth and home are gone. And too many people face this holiday grieving the fresh loss of loved ones. The loss of lives is measured this year in dozens. The loss of homes is measured in thousands.
Our UCC churches in the area are, so far, untouched by flames even as they are deeply touched by loss. Even as members sift through the ashes of their homes and lives, they are also cooking meals and arranging fundraisers for their community. The two UCC Conferences for the region (California-Nevada, North and South) are working closely to provide support to and through the churches in the impact zones and to coordinate relief and recovery with other agencies and neighboring churches. And, as always, our National UCC Disaster Ministries is staying in close contact to provide assistance in the short and long term recovery.
You can find information updates and ways to be helpful (along with unhelpful approaches to avoid) at http://www.ucc.org/disaster. You can also check out the Northern California Nevada Conference site at https://ncncucc.org/lets-talk-about-how-to-help/. As always, the most helpful approach is to offer the flexibility of funds. This allows relief agencies the most leeway and efficiency in providing help. And continue to hold the people, congregations, Conference and communities in your prayers and in the liturgies of your church.
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