Sisters and Brothers,
As we gather round the table of grace in our homes this Thanksgiving, let us remember the victims of the Butte County Camp Fire and other fires throughout the state of California. Let us hold them up to God through prayer and let us consider how we might come alongside them to comfort and sustain them.
This past weekend I was able to join a group of our United Methodist leaders who were providing relief to victims of the fire that devastated the community of Paradise, CA. We joined other people of faith and government and secular agencies at the Disaster Recovery Center set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Chico. We served hundreds of suffering persons who readily told us about their experiences of facing consuming and all-powerful fires.
Their stories were filled with horror, but also with the wonder of human bravery, resilience, and hope. I will carry their stories, their faces, tears, courage, and faith with me for the rest of my life. I know that we cannot abandon them.
I am so very grateful for the generous loving support of our United Methodist Connection. In response to the Camp Fire, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provided an immediate $10,000 grant, the Arkansas Conference is donating $10,000, bishops from across the church have reached out to ask how the conferences they lead can help, and people in states as far off as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are calling area pastors, offering their help and announcing that they have taken up collections for our fire relief effort.
Right here at home, the people of the California-Nevada Conference have responded as well. Since the fire, 70 people have donated $8,915 to the conference’s disaster response fund through the website alone. All of the donations have already been put to good use.
Through the gifts already received, we United Methodists have been able to connect with more than 1,100 households – approximately 10% of those who have been displaced. We have provided individuals and families with nearly $50,000 worth of gift cards for gas and immediate personal needs such as food, clothing, and medications. We also continue to offer them emotional and spiritual support. We have pledged to be there for them for the years to come. I saw many tears as I shared with these suffering souls that we would not cease praying for them.
I know that you join me in the commitment to continue to pray for these our brothers and sisters. And, I know that you want to continue to do all you can to respond to their needs. Here is how you can respond:
VOLUNTEER for one of the following needed tasks: