Dear Friends in Jesus Christ:
People in Illinois Great Rivers Conference are always ready and willing to respond when there are brothers and sisters in need. I thank God for the way you not only contribute financially in the wake of natural disasters, but equally so for the giving of yourselves in volunteering. Members of the IGRC family have already been at work in the tornado damaged areas of Alabama. I rejoice that more will go there and other disaster devastated places. Thanks be to God.
There is an urgent and acute need to intensify our response here at home. Much of the southern tip of Illinois lies beneath flood waters. Roads remain closed, schools are closed and people have moved from their homes due to high water. As the waters begin to recede, now is time for the church to mobilize in a big way and be ready to respond. Volunteers will be needed throughout the summer and many hands will be needed to help people throughout the entire region of southern Illinois.
Here are four very specific ways you may join in this effort:
In order to "do no harm", it is important that volunteers be trained to keep themselves and others safe. Once a person is trained and UMCOR certified to be a part of an Early Response Team (ERT), you may also be called upon to help in neighboring states when and if a natural disaster occurs.
Three six- hour trainings are already scheduled and more are pending. The cost of $35 covers training materials, background checks, IGRC ERT t-shirt and an UMCOR badge. A link for each of these trainings is provided as follows:
May 16-17 ERT Training, Carbondale First UMC, 6 to 9 p.m.
May 17 ERT Training, Carbondale First UMC, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
June 11 ERT Training, Mt. Vernon West Salem Trinity UMC, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 cleaning buckets will be needed in southern Illinois. A shipment of 1,800 flood buckets is being delivered to Midwest Mission Distribution Center from Sager Brown UMCOR Depot this week, but more buckets will be needed. A complete listing of the items for the cleaning bucket is being distributed for annual conference and is on the IGRC website. Monetary contributions for cleaning bucket supplies may be made through the IGRC Advance # 6620 - Midwest Mission Distribution Center. Please consider helping Midwest Mission Distribution Center have adequate supplies to assemble additional buckets for the area.
Funds from this Advance Special will be needed to assist in the relief and recovery phases within the flooded areas.
Your prayers are important during this time of need. Pray for those experiencing great loss and for those who will minister to them by mucking out houses. This will be a prolonged need and we want to be a caring, Christ-like presence. Pray about how God wants to use YOU and your congregation.
One of the often quoted prayers of St. Theresa of Avila states:
Christ has no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out - Christ's compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless others now."
We have an opportunity to represent the hands, feet and body of Christ to our own neighbors and within our own conference boundaries. I pray you will make a commitment to be a part of the flood clean up and recovery. Bless you as you find your place of service in response to the flooding in southern Illinois.
As always I am,
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
Gregory Vaughn Palmer