While millions along the east coast have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, initial reports reveal that the majority of Wesleyan churches suffered minimal damage.
District superintendents in the east have been in communication with their churches, and, thankfully, most have been spared. Dr. Karl Eastlack of the Penn-Jersey District reports that he is still waiting to hear from a few churches in the path of the storm that have been without power to respond, but all others have reported in. One church on New York’s Coney Island has suffered flooding, while missing roof shingles seems to be the worst of the damage for others.
According to Dr. Eastlack, the New Jersey coastline and New York City churches experienced the full force of the storm, including the tidal surge. Many within the Penn-Jersey District are still without power and an ample amount of flooding has hit New York City. Miraculously, the two Wesleyan churches located in the Jersey shore area where the center of Hurricane Sandy came ashore were spared.
“Thankfully our churches are not in tremendous need at this time. This has enabled our people to turn more of their energy into helping others in the community who are in great need,” said Dr. Eastlack. Early reports indicate the churches in the Penn-Jersey and Chesapeake districts have opened their doors to help displaced residents within their local communities.
Rev. Stan Hoover, district superintendent of Chesapeake District, said a few churches situated along the coast had prepared in advance to serve displaced people.
Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church in Stroudsburg, Penn., opened its church as an emergency shelter, and church volunteers picked up a couple of carloads of people who were under an area bridge. The Stroudsburg volunteers served their guests hot meals and played games with them during their stay. A family of four, including a baby, arrived at the church because the roof had blown off their mobile home.
“We prayed for opportunities to minister in a new way, and God let us work through a hurricane,” said Assistant Pastor Angelique Labadie.
Wesleyans across the country are asking how they can help. Anticipating needs in Wesleyan churches or their surrounding communities, the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund has been activated and can be found at Wesleyan.org. Individuals or churches are welcome to make a gift online through this relief fund.
Even as the damage reports are still coming in from the remaining Wesleyan churches, General Superintendent Dr. Jo Anne Lyon has the executive leadership team investigating potential partnerships for the most effective way to direct volunteers, food, and donations to reach those in greatest need.
More information will be released on this matter as the situation develops.