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NIC Churches and Members Step Up with Storm Recovery Help

Posted: April 25 2023 at 04:00 PM
Author: Victoria Rebeck, Director of Communications

How to help . . .

NIC United Methodists can participate in these much-appreciated actsthrough Apportionment and Mission Links giving:

  • Disaster Preparedness and Response Fund (NIC Advance #50000148)
  • Midwest Mission (NIC Advance #50000150)

Images of trees torn out by their roots and roofs pierced by tree limbs and reports of tornadoes dominated the news in late March and early April. Northern Illinois United Methodists immediately offered help and support those whose lives were disrupted.

Part of a wide swath of storms that traversed the country on March 31, a tornado destroyed a theatre in Belvidere. A few days later, on April 4, strong winds knocked a tree onto the manse at Camp Reynoldswood in Dixon. Ashton United Methodist Church immediately mobilized to help
with repairs, demonstrating the strength of the connectional system.


Torn out of the ground by a tornado, a tree sliced through a house in Rolling Fork, Miss.

First United Methodist in Morris sent its Early Response Team to Rolling Fork, Mississippi, which was almost completely obliterated by a tornado on March 24.

This storm was particularly devastating because it hit the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest areas of the country. Twenty-five people in the region died from storm-related injuries; 13 of them in Rolling Fork.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the tornado was rated an EF-4, with winds of up to 170 mph that traveled almost 60 miles and lasted more than an hour.

Rolling Fork United Methodist Church was of the few structures that withstood the storm.The following Sunday, the church held a brief service on the church steps, where friends and neighbors greeted each other with tears and hugs.

“We hadn’t really seen each other since the tornado happened on Friday,” Laura Hollis, the chair of the church’s Nurture, Outreach andWitness Committee, told United Methodist News Service. “It did our hearts good, I think, to just sit in front of that church that meant so much to us and feel the presence of God while we sat there.”


Early Response Team members from ERT First United Methodist in Morris (left to right): Ken Johnson (of Kingswood United Methodist in Buffalo Grove), Todd Platzner (of First United Methodist in Huntsville, Tex.), Randy Miller, Colin Monk, and Rick Webster.

Among the projects that the Morris ERT tackled in Rolling Fork was the repair of a house that sustained significant damage from a fallen tree. "Our ERT crew worked for several days to clear out the damaged section of the house and salvage the belongings,” the team reported on the NIC Disaster Response Facebook page. They also rebuilt the house’s outer shell and provided the homeowner with funds for inside repairs.

The homeowner extended her thanks to “everyone back in Illinois who has been praying for the tornado victims  and those who make donations that allow the ERT crew to do these trips," the team said.

Midwest Mission has also responded quickly with assistance. On April 2, Brad Walton, the center’s operations manager, drove a box truck filled with bottled water, hygiene kits, and storage totes to Robinson, IL, which had been hit by an EF-3 tornado. First United Methodist in Robinson is serving as a distribution center. The organization also intends to help Southern states with
their recovery. It invites churches to donate funds toward the purchase of tornado kit contents, shovels, rakes, and tools.

Bishop Dan Schwerin encourages churches and individuals to continue to pray for those affected by the storms. His prayer appears here.

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