Cal-Nev Churches Are Mindful of Local Communities Hard Hit by Tsunami
March 17, 2011
'Calamity' declared in Crescent City
By Cate Monaghan
Director of Communications
Three California coastal communities have their own disasters to cope with in the wake of the Japan earthquakes and tsunami: Crescent City, Santa Cruz, and Fort Bragg all were victims of tsunami-based tidal surges and suffered extensive damage – 50-million dollars' worth, at lowest estimates.
"While Japan is very much in our prayers, we have to deal with the harsh reality of the tsunami here at Crescent City," says the Rev. Carol Layton of Crescent City United Methodist Church. "The tsunami destroyed our commercial fishing harbor and sank or damaged as many as 45 boats.
"Up until Friday (March 11), Crescent City was one of the busiest working harbors in the north state, and it is now gone. We here at the UMC have been working with other agencies in town to establish local relief efforts for the fishermen who have lost everything, including their way to make a living."
One person was swept out to sea during last week's storm and has not been found, and the online Humboldt Beacon (humboldtbeacon.com) reports power was out in the downtown area for several hours.
Although more than 60 boats were reported sunk or damaged at Santa Cruz harbor, too, it is the already-economically depressed Crescent City that is suffering most. The New York Times reports the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors this week issued a declaration of "calamity" for the area, where much of the population lives near or below the poverty line (nytimes.com).
Other churches in the California-Nevada Annual Conference are not overlooking Crescent City's plight, even as they focus on the horrendous damage and loss of life in Japan.
"Don't forget Crescent City," implores Pastor John Kimbell of Tuolumne and Soulsbyville United Methodist Churches.
"We will continue to have a display area in our church narthex for continued giving," says the Rev. Rosemary Landry, pastor of Grace UMC in Yuba City. "As their pastor, I will challenge them to use our Lenten offering to support the recovery in both Japan and Crescent City."
At Wesley UMC and Wesley Tongan Fellowship in Palo Alto, the congregations will dedicate their Easter offerings to the Crescent City fishermen and to United Methodist Committee on Relief, Japan/Pacific Emergency (Advance # 3021317).
And at Federated Church in Orland, the Rev. Tina Haynes says several individuals from her church are interested in serving on a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) team, "in Asia or on the north coast."
However, in this case, "a mission team cannot do anything," Layton says. "We've got no destroyed houses, no displaced people. We've got a toxic harbor and 16 boats at the bottom of the harbor."
What the community needs, she says, is "funds to enable people to eat."
Frustrated by "waiting for the government to figure out what to do," Layton decided to partner with another congregation, Lighthouse Community Church, which already had a structure in place for ministering to the working poor. She and the other pastor established an ecumenical fund for fishermen's relief, which Lighthouse will administer. "We needed to do something quickly, so that churches could announce it on Sunday morning," she says.
Layton also got on Facebook and connected with friends from her seminary days in Ohio, and churches in that state are taking up donations. It's proof of what she told the pastor of Lighthouse: "I belong to a denomination that's connectional. We want to help one another."
Prayer is requested, too.
"We would like you to pray for the fishermen and the fishing industry that has been destroyed in Crescent City," Rev. Layton says. "While our problems pale in comparison to Japan's, we are dealing with very real and very significant problems in our community here in California."
Those who wish to contribute to Crescent City disaster relief should make checks payable to: "DN LCC" (Del Norte Lighthouse Community Church) and send to the Rev. Carol Layton, Crescent City UMC, 664 H Street, Crescent City, CA 95531.