In Elizabethtown, North Carolina, the swollen Cape Fear River rises to a signboard for boat operators. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
The Rt. Rev. Robert S. Skirving writes to members of the Diocese of East Carolina:
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As you must know by now, Hurricane Matthew has hit all of eastern North Carolina hard. Some communities have been inconvenienced, while others have been crippled. For some the worst is actually still to come, as storm waters find their way to the ocean through the rivers and waterways of this part of the state.
Diocesan House has been flooded. Currently, telephone and Internet services are not available there. Some of our staff is unable to get to the office, with roads that are already closed or that will be closing between the office and their homes. With the news that Lenoir County Public Schools will be closed all week, it might be that we will also be closed all week. Please watch our diocesan website or Facebook page for news of whether Diocesan House is open or closed. In a separate letter to the primary contact persons of each congregation, we have shared ways for your leaders to reach me and other Diocesan House staff this week, in case there is a way that we can be useful to you.
I am confident that even as you look after your own needs and the needs of your congregation, you will be looking for ways to move into your own communities to care for those whose suffering is the greatest. As you partner with others in your community to do the work of housing or feeding the homeless or caring for first responders who are working tirelessly, I know that you will be generous with your own resources. Please know that the resources of our diocese and the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund will also be made available to support you in this critical work. Please coordinate any requests for assistance through the leadership of your congregation, who know how to reach me. We’ll respond as quickly and as generously as possible. Bishops from neighboring dioceses have written to offer their prayerful support of us, including Bishop Griselda Delgado of Cuba and Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic, whose people have experienced much suffering themselves, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Some of them, with their people, have also made offers of more practical assistance, as we need it.
We proclaim that “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) As members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement, let us get out of our homes and churches and into the communities where we live, as we bear witness to God’s love for all people, and as we demonstrate our own love for our neighbors.