September 2, 2021
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It’s a challenging time for our world as we face the wrath of a changing climate. Wildfires in the west, an earthquake in Haiti, flooding in Tennessee, and now Hurricane Ida continues to cause havoc and chaos in the lives of people. Ida's remnants have left a pathway of destruction that stretches all the way from Louisiana to our own region.
As a result, the past few days have been difficult for our New York Annual Conference churches and the communities we serve. The same can be said for our sister Conferences in New Jersey and New England. Many are still working to address the damage caused by last night’s severe weather.
Our hearts were heavy today as we read of the loss of life in our region. The sudden and steady rainfall caught many by surprise. The New York Times reports that the storm is responsible for at least 40 deaths in the Northeast, with at least 12 casualties in New York City. Our prayers are offered to each family affected by this sudden and unexpected loss of life.
In response to news that the Governors of both New York and Connecticut had declared a state of emergency, we immediately dispatched our District Superintendents to assess the impact this morning. We can report to you now, thanks be to God, that with the exception of a few instances of storm-related property damage, flooding and power outages, all is reasonably well in the churches of our New York Annual Conference. Our clergy and Cooperative Parish Coordinators tell us that clean-up recovery efforts are underway and ongoing. Most of our facilities have seen little damage.
When events like this take place, the natural response from many is simply, “What can we do?”
First and foremost, let us pray. Reports from Louisiana and Mississippi are sobering. Persons near to us have been displaced and for them, hope is hard to embrace. May our prayers of intercession be earnest and consistent.
Second, your generosity in times like this is extremely helpful. One of the great celebrations of being a “connectional church" is that we can proudly proclaim how we are one of the only institutions actively dealing with Afghanistan refuges, a Haitian earthquake, western wildfires, and hurricane relief all at the same time. But, as you can imagine, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has been financially impacted by the magnitude of these events. Your generosity and faithfulness in extra-mile giving to UMCOR enables these life-saving and restorative ministries to continue.
Third, I urge to keep your eyes and ears open to the community around you in the next few days. Let us not forget those members of our communities who may need a bit of extra support in the days ahead. A hot meal, an extra hand in cleaning, and a kind word of encouragement will go a long way in any recovery effort. And, if there are particular incidents where we can use the connection of the church to be a helping hand, I urge you to contact us at the Conference Center for support and assistance.
Finally, know too that each of you are being continuously prayed for as we continue to find ways to be faithful in the midst of the constant challenges we seem to be facing these days.
Stay strong, keep the faith, and know that you are loved.
The Journey Continues, . . .
Grace & Peace,
Thomas J. Bickerton
Content copyright 2018. Merrick United Methodist Church. All rights reserved.