Cal-Nev Pastors Evacuated Due to Kincade Fire, Church Services Cancelled

October 28, 2019

Sunday church services were cancelled yesterday at Sebastapol, Forestville, and Windsor United Methodist churches and at Christ Church UMC in Santa Rosa, and there was only one service at First UMC, Santa Rosa due to evacuations. More than half of Sonoma County is under mandatory evacuation as the Kincade Fire continues to blaze, only 5% contained after four days.
Rev. Schuyler Rhodes, superintendent of the Los Rios District, has been in touch with pastors in the affected zone and, with Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Sonja Edd-Bennett, has been monitoring the situation. He had planned to be in Sonoma County for several days this week for charge conferences, but says those conferences now are on hold.
Revs. Lori Sawdon (senior pastor of First UMC of Santa Rosa), Lindsey Bell-Kerr (pastor of Christ Church UMC and associate pastor at First UMC in Santa Rosa), and Diana Bell-Kerr (pastor of St. John’s UMC in Rohnert Park) were evacuated from their homes overnight Saturday-Sunday, Rhodes reports. Rev. Laurie Bayen, pastor of Windsor UMC, lives in an area outside of town that was not under evacuation yesterday, but she was prepared to go if the need arose.
Meanwhile, the threat of wildfires is impacting hundreds of thousands of households. On Saturday, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) began implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) affecting approximately 940,000 customers – an increase of about 90,000 from previous estimates – in portions of 36 counties. (See map at left. Pink circles denote PSPS.)
The first phase of the PSPS involved Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Sierra, Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama and Yuba counties; the second phase, Lake, Marin, Mendocino (south), Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo; the third, Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus counties; the fourth, Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne; the fifth, Humboldt, Mendocino (north) and Trinity; and the sixth and final phase, which began yesterday morning, included Kern County.