Some years ago, as a local church pastor and part-time staff with the Massachusetts Conference, I agreed to chair a long-term recovery team following the Holy Week Floods. These floods were the result of 2 back-to-back 12-15 inch rainstorms that came up the coast and dumped on New England. I oversaw long-term recovery for northern Massachusetts. I learned a lot. I had worked out Ground Zero, as it was then called, in the aftermath of the terror attack on the towers in New York. As a fire chaplain I worked with a team sent from the MA State Fire Marshall's office to support survivors, their families and, in particular, the emergency responders. Since those events I have been part of the Disaster Resource and Response Team of the MA Conference and have had the privilege of working with colleagues from CT, RI and beyond.
And we have learned one thing: In this uncertain world of climate change and global politics, disaster will come with greater frequency and greater intensity. And we have learned, in all disasters, how crucial the presence of church is for a community. In the midst of a disaster the church is, for so many people, a tangible symbol of stability in chaos. Churches, at their best, are intimately connected with their community and can often help in the relief and recovery work with both spiritual resources and practical aid. And churches stay on the ground, involved in helping people find their way into a new normal, long after the news crews have moved on to the next disaster or lead story.
Vibrant churches share that trait in common. They have formed networks, relationships and partnerships with people and agencies within their community. They understand the pulse of their community. They listen and they respond out of the core of who they are and what they value. They are living examples of Jesus.
That good, because we are in a world where storms will come with greater frequency and greater intensity. And the need for those vibrant churches will equally be greater.
Rev. Don Remick is the Transitional Interim Conference Minister for the MA Conference, UCC.
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