Sometimes things fall into place, even in the midst of devastation after Hurricane Florence.
This past Saturday confirmation students from Redeemer and Good Shepherd Lutheran churches and Pastors Burris and Stallings traveled to St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in New Bern to meet Pastor Ted Rust for a service project. The group worked at the home of Miss Heidi. She is a widow who lives on 18 acres of land and a member of St. Andrew’s. Miss Heidi lost a number of trees. The wood had been cut and prepared for hauling. The youth loaded a trailer many times over and helped unload the brush and wood at another site. “O Tannenbaum” was sung in German. A fitting salute for the dead cedar trees. Not only did the groups provide labor, they also brought gifts for the community: health kits, Tyvek coveralls for working with hazardous waste, and handmade quilts. After the work, Pastor Rust treated the group to lunch at an Asian grill.
From my perspective, it was a great introduction to service in another community. The group was able to see how Hurricane Florence affected the church, which lost three quarters of the interior ceiling in the sanctuary and possibly the organ to water damage. They heard about the fifteen church families that lost everything including their homes in the storm and they learned about the recovery efforts in New Bern. Through their service, they lived out the call of Jesus to serve the most vulnerable and to know that church with young people, men and woman are better together when they serve God.
In fact, today and tomorrow: all three expressions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) are working together in the Eastern Coastal Plains Conference. The North Carolina Synod invited Pastor Michael Spadie, Lutheran Disaster Coordinator-US from the ELCA headquarters in Chicago to our church this morning to meet with members of the Congregation Council and community. The stakeholders met at to discuss the needs of Goldsboro and Wayne County. Pastor Spadie will also travel to New Bern and Wilmington to have the same kinds of conversations with Lutheran churches in those communities.
We are church together. Thanks be to God who accompanies us through times of suffering and resurrection in communities throughout our Conference and the world.