Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, released this statement as Hurricane Dorian approached the Southeastern United States:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”– Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)
With Hurricane Dorian – one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in recent history – threatening South Carolina with potentially dangerous winds, storm surge and flooding, we are praying for the safety of everyone in the storm’s path.
We pray especially for the people of the Bahamas, where the then-Category 5 storm made landfall on Sunday with 180-mph winds that caused “catastrophic conditions,” including at least one death.
While the track of the hurricane and the level of damage it could bring to our state remain uncertain, we encourage all South Carolinians to heed the advice of emergency management officials and to take appropriate precautions to keep yourself and your family safe.
South Carolinians – and countless tourists visiting our beaches for the Labor Day weekend – are evacuating coastal communities, and the lives of others across the state could be disrupted by school and office closings and traffic disruptions amid preparations for the storm.
United Methodists – from local churches and pastors, to short-term Early Response Team crews and long-term Disaster Recovery teams, to the United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission – prepare year-round to respond faithfully to communities in crisis.
Here in South Carolina, our conference Disaster Response leaders have been taking the necessary steps to assess the needs that could arise from this storm, to coordinate with state and local authorities, and to respond when it is safe to do so.
This is the nature of our connectional church and shows yet again that we can do so much more together than we can as individuals.
What can you do to help? Please consider:
- Praying for God’s protection and comfort for those affected by loss of property and livelihood, and for first responders and everyone caring for those in need. Pray that, as communities recover, they will become stronger and more connected. Pray for God’s sustaining grace through it all.
- Giving generously of your compassion and your financial resources, responding only to specifically identified needs – not making unsolicited donations. The South Carolina Conference encourages everyone to donate directly to the United Methodist Committee On Relief.
- Training for and volunteering with conference short-term Disaster Response and long-term Disaster Recovery
As people of faith, we trust that God’s love will triumph in the midst of anxiety, fear, loss and destruction. We also trust our pastors and local church leaders to make the best decisions for their communities when it comes to whether to cancel worship services and other church events.
Please know that I will continue my prayers for God’s protection for you and for our neighbors.
Grace and peace,
L. Jonathan Holston