On October 10, 2018, the Florida panhandle was devastated by Hurricane Michael. While many of our Anglican Church in North America congregations and members have experienced great loss and suffering in the aftermath of this storm along with millions of others who were in its path, the Church is also rising up to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
One member of St. Paul Anglican Mission Church, Lynn Haven, Florida, Aimee Roberts, described the scene at the church:
We moved to the church and at first glance – it wasn’t too bad. But then we saw the broken window. The window next to the baby grand piano. And all my music from Sunday morning was soaked. The fair linen on the altar was stained and wet. The Gospel was soaking wet… Father Tracy’s office was miraculously spared. His library, the vestments, the ordination papers for Deacon Sheryll and Father Tracy were fine. The Sunday School room however, was completely open to the sky above.
She added that every parishioner at the church had “significant damage” to his or her home:
They are telling us that we will not have power, or water or sewage for months. Months. What do people do when their jobs don’t have power or water? How do you get out when the nearest gas is a half hour away and you were on empty to begin with? Where do you go when your entire extended family is living in the same neighborhood?
Roberts noted that there are hundreds of people coming to help, including law enforcement, and so, though they’ve lost everything, they are hopeful.
Meanwhile, Fr. John Wallace, Rector of Apostles by the Sea in Rosemary Beach, Florida, is calling on the church to rise up as he leads his parishioners in relief efforts: “So, Church, let’s be the Church!” His congregation is offering food and water, hygiene products and first aid, and other essentials to those in need in the area. Right now, they are focused on immediate needs but recognize that relief efforts will be a “marathon.”
Apostles by the Sea is leading the relief efforts for the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic who has partnered with the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. Though they ask for volunteers to wait until circumstances are a bit safer to visit, they can use your prayers, especially for stamina and safety. You are also encouraged to help by donating to the relief efforts through ARDF here. Learn more about the relief efforts here and in this video: