July 29, 2021 | by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Our faith family across California and Nevada are watching and praying as the Dixie Fire engulfs our communities in the north. We follow the news feeling helpless as the acres burn, homes are destroyed, and lives are forever changed by this erratic, extreme fire complex. Dry lightning and tornados spawned by the fire and smoke complicate response and recovery efforts. So, we wait.
But as people of faith, we are never helpless for we know that God is with us and especially with those who are suffering. Even in this time of waiting we are able to act. We will pray for God's mercy as we also pray to become agents of God's mercy by praying with our hands and feet. We face this fire, as we have faced those in the past and will face those to come in what promises to be a historically catastrophic fire season, by building upon our California-Nevada Conference’s culture of preparedness.
Right now, our financial support is crucial. Our dollars make gift cards, hotel rooms, groceries, and clean water possible for our brothers and sisters affected by the Dixie Fire and their calls for help are coming. Click here to donate to our California-Nevada Conference Disaster Relief Fund. Click here to send your financial support to UMCOR which supports fire relief and recovery throughout the Western US.
Many of you have donated your time and money to prepare fire buckets and sifters. Because of you, more than 500 fire buckets are ready to be sent forth to help those who need them. Thank you! These vital fire tools are stowed in our 4 Conference depots close to areas that tend to be most impacted by wildfires. Many of you have also been trained to walk with families who have been affected by fires. I give God thanks for your willingness to extend a helping hand and a listening ear in these ways and so many others. God can use your good hearts and your willing spirits to respond to the present need.
Steve Elliott, California-Nevada Conference Volunteers in Mission coordinator reminds us that, “Our Conference response to wildfires is very much a ministry of presence - walking along side those in need.” Here are several ways Steve suggests we can train and prepare for service:
1. Click here to register to become a disaster response volunteer. You will be notified about training and service opportunities.
2. Commit to being trained: Introduction to Volunteering in a Wildfire Response or the Basic Early Response Team Training are both available.
3. Offer to serve on one of our wildfire response efforts, either short term during the relief phase or later on during the recovery/rebuilding phase.
4. Click here to access our disaster response ministry web page with downloadable resources on how to build a fire bucket and how to get involved in being part of the recovery.
If you would like a virtual or in person presentation on wildfire volunteering contact Steve Elliott, UMVIMCoordinator@calnevumc.org.
If you are interested in preparing much needed wildfire buckets contact Sonja Edd-Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org, for details on what is required for fire buckets and where they are most needed.
We are called to be God's agents of mercy, especially in this season. Let us together pray with our hearts, hands, and feet as we help our local churches and communities face the Dixie fire!
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño is Resident Bishop of the San Francisco area and the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church.