South Carolina is feeling the effects of an unprecedented weather event that has caused extensive flooding in the Low Country, Midlands and Pee Dee regions of our state. Interstate closings, failing dams, disintegrating roads, city curfews and extensive evacuations provide an indication of the widening scale of this natural disaster.
Under the leadership of Kathy James (Director of Connectional Ministries) and Gregg Varner (Disaster Response Coordinator), our Disaster Response Team has been mobilized to begin to assess needs, coordinate with state and local authorities and prepare to respond at the appropriate time.
Presently, we are in a time of waiting until the floodwaters recede before any coordinated response can begin. Our Emergency Response Teams are ready to provide assistance and represent the first wave of our church’s response. Their contact information is provided on the Conference website. In coordination with emergency management authorities, they are prepared to offer assistance wherever needed.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) stand ready to provide assistance as recovery efforts unfold. We are a connectional church, and we are not alone as we seek to respond faithfully to communities in crisis.
As the waters rise and fall and we grapple with the impact to our state, our communities and our congregations, I invite you to do these things:
First, pray. Pray for families who are impacted by this disaster through loss of property and livelihood. Pray for first responders and all those who put themselves in harm’s way to care for the vulnerable in our midst. Pray that communities will come together and forge stronger relationships and connections in the recovery process. Pray for God’s sustaining grace through it all.
Second, give generously of your compassion and your financial resources, but please refrain from making unsolicited donations of things like clothing and food. Respond to identified needs.
Finally, consider being trained and volunteering for recovery efforts through United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. Much effort will be required in the coming days and weeks to bring new life into devastated areas. Consider offering your time and talents to that effort.
Please know that my desire for you is to stay safe and as dry as possible. This can be an anxious and fearful time. As people of faith, we hold onto the promise that God is faithful in the midst of the storm and the flood. God’s love will triumph in the midst of loss and destruction.
Grace and Peace,
L. Jonathan Holston