Dear Sisters and Brothers:
It’s been almost a week since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New Jersey/New York coastline wreaking havoc and leaving devastation in her wake. Clean up efforts and power restoration are well underway in many areas, but many of our brothers and sisters both within our congregations and in our communities are nonetheless experiencing frustration, anger, and grief as continued outages, gasoline and food shortages, and delays and difficulties in reaching workplaces and essential destinations become harder to deal with.
In the days and weeks to come, we will have many opportunities to minister to our friends in distress. Our ministry of presence may be as simple as lending a sympathetic ear or by serving as companions, actively reaching out to those in need by providing a much-needed service. It is a time to redouble our efforts to be in communication with all our parishioners, especially those who have special needs or who have little or no support systems. We can become the caring community that offers comfort and compassion as the hands and heart of Christ.
- Start by creating a communication tree linking members of your parish with one another.
- Encourage frequent checking-in with elderly members and those with special needs.
- Listen closely. Listen deeply. Provide a safe space where those in our church family and those in the community can “tell their stories”—share their fears and anxieties.
- Pray. Public witness and worship in difficult times offers healing and speaks to God’s faithfulness and Christian hope.
- Learn. Discover what the needs of the wider community might be and how your congregation may offer true Christian hospitality and charity.
- Keep in touch. Let the diocese know how your congregation is coping with the challenges presented by the disaster. Also share your stories. Where have you seen God’s grace? Where might there be opportunities for others to help you?
- Reaching Out. What might your congregation have to offer to those in need?
“Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.”
Stay warm and stay safe.