Pastoral Post 10.19.2016

It’s been almost two weeks now since Hurricane Matthew brought its devastation to our state, after wreaking so much havoc in the Caribbean and up the Atlantic coast.

Haiti was especially hard hit. The latest numbers I could fine indicate that more than 500 died, more than 175,000 are without homes, and more than a million are struggling to survive in what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “absolute devastation.” According to UN estimates, at least 1.4 million Haitians are in urgent need of water, food, and medicine, and an already serious cholera epidemic is feared to escalate. Unfortunately, dozens of cholera treatment centers have been destroyed.

Our own state was hard hit as well. The death toll is now at 25, and estimates are that there is at least $1.5 billion in damages to 100,000 homes, businesses, and government buildings. Rivers have crested and are now dropping, but it will be days before they all recede to below flood levels. The historic town of Princeville is still almost completely submerged. While interstates have reopened, other roads remain closed and some 2000 are still without power.

How strange, unpredictable, and fickle are storms! Florida was spared much damage because Matthew was just off the coast. A few miles west, and the coast would have had catastrophic damage. And we wonder about those places flooded, while we have drought conditions and received minimal rainfall.

The recovery effort will no doubt take years. We are already talking about a work team for spring. And we are discussing having NC flood relief as one of our Christmas offerings. In the meantime, if you feel led to contribute to NC recovery efforts, you can make your check “NC Flood Relief” and we will send it to the NC Conference Disaster Response office, where 100% will be used for direct aid. We cannot find thatUMCOR has established a Haiti relief fund as of yet, but we will keep you posted on this. Of course, we can all pray for these many, many persons whose lives have been turned upside down by this storm. May they know the comfort and strength of God’s presence and receive the help they need through the gifts of generous people.

Last week we kicked off our Giving to Grow fall stewardship campaign. We drew from 1 Timothy 6 and its call for generosity and sharing, which leads to “the life that really is life.” (v. 19) This week we move into consideration of John Wesley’s advice for our faithful use of money: “Earn all you can…..Save all you can…..Give all you can.” We noted last week that Wesley says that money is a good gift, and this week we zero in on his “Earn all you can….” statement. What does it mean to work for a living? Under what circumstances do we work? Does our work have meaning? How does money relate? We are attempting during this series to gain a wide view, a mature understanding, a Christian viewpoint on our money and possessions and what we do with them. On November 13, we will take our commitments to the altar, pledging to support the general budget for funding mission and ministry through First Church in 2017.

We are Giving to Grow! Through our giving to God’s purposes, we grow in faith and generosity. Through our giving to God’s purposes, the ministries and missions of the church grow. That’s something to celebrate!

See you Sunday where we are Giving to Grow!

Sandy

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