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Ready or not

June 14, 2020
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS
ALLISON LINDSEY 

“Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.” – William A. Ward

Planning and preparing are two words that have been elevated over the past several weeks in many ways. Churches are planning their “rolling restarts” and making preparations to gather for in-person worship. Some pastors are planning and making preparations to move while at the same time their local churches are planning and preparing to say goodbye along with saying hello to a new pastoral family. COVID-19 has, without a doubt, given new meaning to “planning and preparing.”

Allow me to throw another layer of “planning and preparing” into the mix. June 1 kicked off the 2020 hurricane season – which runs through November 30 – and predictions point to an above- average season. South Georgia continues to see its share of severe weather throughout the year, not just during this unique season, so there is no time like the present to make your plans. Ready.gov and the American Red Cross provide many resources to guide your preparations. 

The conference also offers resources such as the “Connecting Neighbors Training” for local church ministry and a new resource we are excited to highlight: “Disaster Response: For Kids By Kids.” Nate Roberson (Leesburg UMC) and Ruthie Akins (The Chapel, Brunswick) have worked to design and share great fun facts about hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires along with experiments, devotions, and more so that kids can be prepared – not scared – to weather a storm with love. The resource outlines what to do before, during, and after a disaster, including helping others. Check out this fun video for making your emergency kit, and check back regularly for new content to be added. What a great way for a family to learn, make plans, and prepare together! 

Your Conference Disaster Response Team continuously engages in planning and preparing in order to quickly respond should South Georgia face a catastrophic event. Luis Morales, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, has built great capacity by adding connectional layers this past year. Bob Greico assists Luis with assessments and logistics, which strengthens a response, and our conference now has District Disaster Response Coordinators (DDRC) in all six districts to provide resources and coordinate a relief if/when needed. We are thankful for their passion and commitment to this volunteer ministry. Please reach out to them should you have questions or to explore available training and resources (contact information):

Kelly Crane: Coastal DDRC | Neal Anderson: Northeast DDRC | Rob Belknap: North Central DDRC | Rick Dorer: Northwest DDRC | Susan Hughes: South Central DDRC | Debbie Weaver:  Southwest DDRC 

The heart and soul of the capacity to respond when devastation actually does occur rests with our ERTs (Early Response Teams) and volunteers. The ERT volunteers invest the time to be trained and develop the skills to respond at the drop of a hat. They are the first to arrive following a storm when it is safe to go into a community. ERT training is offered throughout the year and hosted by local churches. Click here for more information or to host a training. Due to COVID-19, several trainings were canceled over the past few months. However, plans and preparations are underway to offer these in the near future when this can be done safely. 

Local churches are also instrumental to disaster response ministry. Examples include assembling the UMCOR relief kits, monetary donations to meet immediate needs of survivors following a disaster, and opening as shelters during times of evacuation. COVID-19 will significantly change the way sheltering can take place this season. The CDC guidelines are designed to help equip an organization in planning and preparing for sheltering ministry during this pandemic. Thank you, clergy and laity, for the many ways you show the strength in the connection through the ministry of disaster response!

If you think about it, in one way or another each of us are continually engaged in some form of planning and preparing daily, right down to what’s for dinner. Planning ahead and being prepared is the key, and when it comes to natural disasters – it could save lives! 

Connectional Ministries, like several of our local churches, is planning and preparing as two of our staff are transitioning into new appointments. Dr. Nita Crump (Director) and Rev. Earnestine Campbell (Associate Director) will be moving into local church ministry. Dr. Crump will be serving Mulberry UMC in Macon and Rev. Earnestine Campbell will be transitioning into a cross-cultural appointment at Epworth UMC in Columbus. Connectional Ministries has been blessed by their ministry and the many ways their faith, knowledge, and passion have guided the work of our collective ministries. We wish them the very best in their new chapter of ministry!

Connectional Ministries is here to help resource you. Our connection matters! This focus on planning and preparing brings Proverbs 16:9 to mind: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Thanks be to God! 

Allison Lindsey is the incoming director of Connectional Ministries. She has a passion for the local church and its people. Contact her at allison@sgaumc.com

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