Pastoral letter on June 5 tornadoes


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

As you are probably aware, devastating storms crossed the northern end of our conference June 5. A tornado struck Elmwood, north of Peoria, and a second tornado followed Route 17 creating damage in Magnolia, Streator and Dwight.  

Bunny Wolfe, IGRC Coordinator of Missions and Outreach, has visited the communities of Elmwood, Dwight and Streator and is in contact with Magnolia where the damage is not as extensive.

The clean up process continues in each community and long term recovery will take place over the next several months.   Volunteer teams are being requested in Dwight and Streator.

In Dwight, the police department is coordinating volunteer efforts. Currently volunteers are being coordinated out of the VFW building on Route 66.  All volunteers must show a photo ID. The Dwight UMC sustained damage and a 16 square block area and a trailer park near the church took the brunt of the storm.

In Streator, volunteer teams are going out today and persons are to report to the Streator Fire Department  upon arrival at Main and Wasson Sts. Persons should show up dressed appropriately for the weather and bring a photo ID so a background check can be done. The community’s churches are providing meals to persons on a rotating basis. There are also other opportunities for ways to assist through clothing and other needed items.

In Elmwood, most of the damage was concentrated in the historic business district of town. Because of the age of the buildings and liability issues involved, no volunteer assistance has been sought.

As you look for ways to provide a loving witness to our sisters and brothers, consider the following ways in which you can be a part:

  • Be in prayer for not only the storm victims but for those who come to lend a hand. Pray especially for public safety officials and utility line personnel who will log an enormous number of hours as these communities begin the journey toward normalcy.
  • Prepare teams of personnel to travel to Streator and Dwight to volunteer. If you have particular gifts, such as carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, construction or cooking, you indeed are gifted for this type of ministry. But even if you don’t, there is a place for general manual labor that can be a healing presence to those who have lived through these storms.
  • Encourage your congregation to take up a special offering to provide financial resources for the IGRC Conference Disaster Relief Fund - IGRC Advance # 6800. We are just at the beginning of the storm season. Having funds in hand enables us to respond when the need arises.

Additionally, conference staff are arranging disaster response and pastoral care training. Prayerfully consider attending and become equipped for this much needed type of ministry.

Grace and peace to you, as God calls God’s church to be a healing presence and a demonstration of God’s love and grace.

Gregory V. Palmer
Resident Bishop