Synod News, Katrina Relief Effort

Help for Homeless Gulf Coast Pastors

Fifteen pastors and AIMs in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod have been left homeless and without any income because the churches they serve were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod has designated all of its Disaster Fund to help these men and women get back on their feet, so that they may begin ministering to others. If you would like to help these pastors and AIMs, you may send a check to the TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod at the following address: Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, 12707 North Freeway, Suite 580, Houston, TX 77060-1239. Make the check payable to “Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod” and write “Discretionary Fund – Pastors” in the memo line.

How New England Is Already Helping:

ST. PAUL, TORRINGTON, CONN.

St. Paul, Torrington, Conn., collected more than $800 Sunday (Sept. 4) during a special appeal for ELCA Domestic Disaster Relief. St. Paul has become the “east side” drop off point for the Torrington fire department’s citywide collection of relief items. The first trailer leaves early tomorrow morning. St. Paul youth unloaded cars and helped pack the trailer. The fire department was grateful for their help.

The Women of the ELCA group at St. Paul wanted to do something tangible to make a difference. At the coffee hour on Sunday, a member of the group suggested making fleece blankets for displaced children, not only for warmth, but for comfort. So, Monday, Labor Day, 13 of women gathered in the fellowship hall and “Labored on Labor Day,” completing 47 fleece blankets. They affixed a label on each blanket, giving the name of the congregation and saying that St. Paul is praying for them. “Lots of love went into each and every stitch and snip,” reported Paula Rosenbeck, “and we felt wonderful when they were all neatly wrapped with love in a clear plastic bag and then shrink-wrapped for maximum portability.” They were added to the items in the trailer at the fire department. “We hope they will bring comfort to a child by week’s end,” added Rosenbeck. “It was a great day!”

SOUTH CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE

Several congregations in the South Connecticut Conference are developing a plan with their Episcopal counterparts to send supplies and work teams to the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA, which covers Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. They will work with ELCA and Episcopal social ministry disaster teams in Mississippi. A work team is tentatively scheduled to leave Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006, after worship and to spend several days in Mississippi. Pr. Mark Christoffersen, Our Saviour’s, Fairfield, Conn., who grew up in Memphis, has contacts in the Southeastern Synod. In fact, his grandfather’s family “lost everything” in a hurricane that struck Hattiesburg, Miss., about 1913.

The ELCA is continually updating the how-to-help information on http://www.elca.org/disaster . Check this site often to find out how you or your congregation can best help.

EARLY-RESPONSE VOLUNTEERS/PROFESSIONALS NEEDED

Skilled/certified search and rescue volunteers. Send an email with “search and rescue volunteer” in the subject line, along with full contact information to ddr@elca.org

Self-sufficient debris removal crews (able to provide their own food, water, sleeping arrangements). Debris-removal crews are being coordinated at a local high school in Wiggins, Mississippi. It has been requested that you call the following number prior to going: 601-249-3695. Self-sufficient volunteer crews may also contact Hal Shope (hshope@allthingsnewministry.org, 678-580-3371) or Bob Tribble (trib713@juno.com, 404-313-7878), LDR Volunteer Coordinators.

Health and medical professionals should contact the Department of Health and Human Services at 866/528-6334, volunteer.hhs.gov or www.hhs.gov

Individuals seeking employment with FEMA should call 800/879-6076, to receive instruction for faxing an application or resume to 540-542-2484.

Contractors seeking opportunities with FEMA should visit www.swern.gov

LATER-RESPONSE VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers will be needed for Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts long into the future. Groups should watch www.elca.org/disaster for volunteer opportunities, or after the immediate crisis has past, send their contact information to ddr@elca.org with “volunteer” in the subject line.

DONATIONS OF FOOD AND *NEW* CLOTHING

Multi-Agency warehouses have been established to accept delivered donations of food, paper products, and NEW clothing. (The warehouses are temperature-controlled facilities, so clothing donations will not mildew. We are not working with anyone at this time willing to accept donations of used clothing.) These warehouses serve as receiving and delivery points and are set up to receive semi-truck deliveries. If you are coordinating a donations drive, and plan to place the items on a semi-tractor trailer, if at all possible, please have these donations placed on pallets for easy removal from the trucks. The warehouses will accept donations if they are not on pallets, but it would help with the unloading process. Since mail services in these areas are uncertain, donations should be taken and not mailed. Contact information is below:

Louisiana
1102 E. Admiral-Doyle Dr.; New Iberia, LA 70560
Stanley Buckmaster-Manager (405)612-4602

Mississippi
4750 Northside Methodist Home Rd.; Jackson, MS 39213
Ray Elsberry-Manager (601)405-2975

Alabama (tentative, watch for confirmation)
Old Sams Club; I-65 W & Dauphin Blvd.; Mobile, AL
Tommy Warren-Manager

DONATIONS TO AMERICA’S SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANKS

America’s Second Harvest is organizing the delivery nationwide to deliver food goods to the impacted areas. The national number is 800-771-2303. Learn more, and find local food-bank contact information, here.

DONATIONS OF DISASTER-RECOVERY SUPPLIES

The Southeastern Synod of the ELCA is maintaining a list of congregations that are also willing to accept donations of disaster-recovery supplies.

OFFERS TO PROVIDE TEMPORARY HOUSING

ELCA Domestic Disaster Response/Lutheran Disaster Response is not coordinating temporary housing.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is working to develop a plan for resettling evacuees – see their Web posting at http://www.lirs.org/News/20050904Katrina.htm

The American Red Cross has launched the Family Links Registry, which will aid individuals who are seeking loved ones and family members in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Family Links Registry can be accessed by visiting www.redcross.org or by calling:
1-877-LOVED-1S (1-877-568-3317) to register.

Evacuees wishing to inform loved ones of their location can register their name by clicking on “Family Links Registry” on www.redcross.org or by calling 1 877-LOVED-1S. Concerned friends and family can register the names of their loved ones and view the list of those already posted. Due to the extent of the damage and the number of people displaced, concerned friends and family members are encouraged to visit the site daily to consult the list, as it will be updated continuously.

Sister Virginia E. Strahan
Synod Communicator
New England Synod
20 Upland Street
Worcester, MA 01607
(508) 791-1530, x103

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