Nothing has more potential to bring people closer to God and each other than a natural disaster. But it can also drive people apart. The mission of the Church in these situations is lived through a variety of responses. When hurricanes like Katrina, Rita and Irene have hit thriving communities, the effects are devastating and, in some cases, permanent. The grief over the loss of life incurred by tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters is only magnified when folks awaken to the reality of the loss of home, domestic animals and a sense of “place.”
The Church has responded to these disasters through immediate pastoral care, longer-term rebuilding efforts, and the gifts of prayer and financial support. The ministry of presence, prayer and money all contribute to the hope that those who experience an encounter with individuals from the Church also encounter Jesus. It is gestures both large and small that bring hope to the devastated and begin the process of restoration.
On the local front, the Diocese of Southern Ohio partners with Lutheran Disaster Response of Ohio. John Pyron is the Director of LSS Disaster Services, and serves as the liaison to our diocese as well. Globally, the diocese supports Episcopal Relief & Development, which offers resources and training to help people prepare for disasters and provides emergency support so they can make a full and sustained recovery. Toks Ogungbadero serves as the diocesan representative for ERD.