Hurricane Michael's Harsh Legacy
“Church, let’s be the Church!”
Panama City, FL, USA
Aimee Roberts and her husband, Rev. Tracy Roberts, spent the weekend in Tallahassee looking for a place to live. Father Tracy is the Rector of St. Paul Anglican Church in Lynn Haven, FL, just outside of Panama City. And they are not alone. She writes that every parishioner at their church has sustained “significant damage” to his or her home.
Aimee describes the scene at the church in the aftermath of the storm.
“At first glance – it wasn’t too bad. But then we saw the broken window. The window next to the baby grand piano. And all my music from Sunday morning was soaked. The fair linen on the altar was stained and wet. The Gospel was soaking wet…. Father Tracy’s office was miraculously spared. His library, the vestments, the ordination papers for Deacon Sheryl and Father Tracy were fine. The Sunday School room however, was completely open to the sky above.
They are telling us that we will not have power, or water, or sewage for months. Months. What do people do when their jobs don’t have power or water? How do you get out when the nearest gas is a half hour away and you were on empty to begin with? Where do you go when your entire extended family is living in the same neighborhood?”
Now, three weeks later, “I think our congregation is still shell-shocked because it’s hard to know what's next with our homes, jobs, community.”
Aimee describes the huge need for childcare as parents need to search for housing, go to work, etc. etc. It is these not-so-little details that will disrupt lives for months to come.
Even in their suffering, Aimee writes that last Sunday’s time of worship and prayer was especially sweet. The church even had two Red Cross visitors join them! They are reeling, but they are in it together, demonstrating what it means to be the Body of Christ - together.
Meanwhile, Fr. John Wallace, Rector of Apostles By-the-Sea in Rosemary Beach, Florida, is calling on the church to rise up as he leads his parishioners in relief efforts.
“When Hurricane Michael made landfall in this part of Florida, we knew that our church would have to do something. We - as the church - have a responsibility to respond and to be the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus here on earth. So, Church, let’s be the Church!”
His congregation is offering food and water, hygiene products and first aid, and other essentials to those in need in the area. Right now, they are in “triage” mode, focused on immediate needs. But everyone recognizes that relief efforts will be a “marathon.”
Apostles By-the-Sea is leading the relief efforts for the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic who is partnering with the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. Though they ask for volunteers to wait until circumstances are a bit safer to visit, they can use your prayers, especially for stamina and safety. You are also encouraged to help by donating to the relief efforts through ARDF here.
The recovery ahead will be a long one. Local churches like St Paul Anglican and Apostles By-the-Sea are in it for the long haul. They need our help and prayers. If you believe you can help with specific needs –like housing for older parishioners – contact us and we will connect you with folks on the ground.
May God give these churches strength and courage to do what needs to be done and partners to share in the labor.
You can donate funds to Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts by mailing a check (with Hurricane Michael in the memo line) to:
The Anglican Relief and Development Fund, P.O. Box 645354, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-5354
You can also donate online at this link.
By supporting the local church through ARDF, leaders on the ground – in the neighborhood – are able to offer the love of Jesus through practical and spiritual help.
These leaders develop relationships that don’t end when the disaster does.
Stay tuned to ardf.org/relief for the latest news and the ways in which you can help. If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.