Diocese Coordinates Relief

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The Diocese of Texas provides updates from Houston:

Spiritual care teams have deployed to the George R. Brown Convention Center, which is housing 9,000-plus evacuees. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said [Aug. 29] that he had requested 10,000 more cots from FEMA and was opening additional emergency centers in the Greater Houston area.

By the weekend, Archdeacon Russ Oeschel, head of the diocesan disaster relief efforts, said he would have dozens of deacons and lay chaplains deployed to the hardest hit neighborhoods to offer comfort and emergency funds to people who were flooded.

At the same time, the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, is helping to coordinate the cardinal rectors of Houston’s largest Episcopal churches to respond to the most pressing assessed needs, whether that be space for mission teams, feeding programs and/or funding.

“Our response will come in several ways, and will be long term,” said Bishop Andy Doyle. “We will reach out to our communities through the efforts of Russ, the cardinal rectors, and Episcopal Relief and Development, and the diocesan staff will work diligently and urgently to get our affected congregations up and running so that they can serve their immediate communities.”

Episcopal Relief and Development has already provided emergency funds for some of this work and the diocese is accepting donations at epicenter.org/Harvey. Church Pension Group, the Church’s insurance arm, has the capacity to deploy teams to assess the damage to church property and help remediate those issues, said Linda Mitchell, COO of the diocese. She said she had already been in touch with them.

Clergy and heads of congregations will receive online training in best practices for response from Episcopal Relief and Development this week and special liturgical resources will also be provided (see epicenter.org/Harvey). … It is of great comfort to us to know that we are connected to and supported by the larger body of Christ.

One of the most heartening things to witness during this protracted tragedy is the volunteer response from people who just “want to help.” Robert Jordan, senior warden of Trinity, Baytown, was in a boat helping to rescue people when he answered a call from diocesan officials to check on the church. He is one of thousands who put their faith to work in the high water.

“I give thanks for each of you who have offered a warm, dry bed, a hot meal or simply comfort to your neighbors,” said Bishop Doyle. “While it is frustrating to see so much devastation and not be able to fix it, we must first be safe and not create more work for our first responders. Where you have been able to help, it is the reflection of Christ’s love that is shared and it is this love that will bring hope in the darkest moments for many people.”

For now, be safe and donate. If you are safe, then be a good neighbor and help your neighbors. Give funds to EDOT or to Episcopal Relief and Development. ERD and diocesan staffs have already begun to help coordinate relief efforts. Pray for all who are in harm’s way, those who have been displaced and have suffered so much loss, our government officials, volunteers and all of our first responders as well as the media who has worked without rest to bring us this unfolding story. All of these people need our unceasing prayer.

Once the flooding is over, the diocese will coordinate relief efforts as soon as it is safe, working collaboratively with our congregations to make the most impact for both church members and our communities.

“We will face this together. We have a tremendous opportunity to help our communities heal over the coming months and in the long term,” Bishop Doyle said. “This is our call and I am grateful to be with you on this journey, challenging as it is. Thanks be to God.”

Please use these resources if appropriate:

Post-Disaster Ministry Resources

Sample Prayers and Liturgy


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