Bishop of Georgia: Time for a “revival of compassion” in the wake of Hurricane Irma

by Rosalind Hughes

The Diocese of Georgia has postponed its scheduled Revival from this weekend in order to focus on recovery and repair efforts after Hurricane Irma. The Revival is one of a series of events across the Episcopal Church announced by the Presiding Bishop’s office late last year. The Georgia event will now take place in January 2018.

A statement on the diocesan website puts the postponement into perspective:

“While we’re disappointed that we had to postpone our Revival, which was scheduled for this weekend, our disappointment isn’t what’s important,” said Bishop Scott Benhase. “What’s important now is for all of us to be good neighbors in our communities where many have been displaced from their homes and where others continue to go without electrical power and water. Thankfully, none of our congregations or our buildings have suffered devastation. We will get back on our feet. Others will struggle to do so, particularly our neighbors to the south in Florida. Let’s keep them all in our prayers and respond to their needs as we are able. We will have the Revival in January. In the meantime, let’s have a “revival of compassion” for our neighbors.”

The Anglican Communion News Service has heard from some churches in the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma caused devastating damage and loss of life in that area before hitting the south-eastern United States.

Harrowing stories of the death and devastation caused by Hurricane Irma are emerging from islands across the Caribbean and US. More than 30 people are known to have died in the Caribbean. Thousands have seen their homes destroyed; thousands more have been left without power. In the US at least 10 people have been killed – six in Florida. A clean-up operation is underway but around 60% of homes in the state are still without power.

Clifton Nedd, the Anglican Alliance regional facilitator said, “In the north eastern Caribbean the reports are of absolute destruction. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has indicated that some 90% of the housing stock has been destroyed or damaged.”

Irma — the most powerful storm in the region for a decade – ravaged a swathe of islands including Anguilla, Barbuda, the Turks and Caicos and the British and US Virgin Islands before smashing into Puerto Rico, Cuba and turning on the US state of Florida. These islands were in the eye of the storm but a number of others were also badly affected.

The widespread damage has hampered communications but Father Reid Simon in Antigua sent the following message:  “Greetings from Antigua where this island was spared any damage.  Barbuda, our sister island has been declared a disaster area.  We are very thankful for the prayerful support and we shall let you know what has transpired in those other areas.  We continue to press on with God even in the midst of the challenge of devastation and material loss.”

The Anglican Alliance has been making contact with affected dioceses to find out more and is ready to help those responding to the crisis. The Church community across the region has requested prayers from around the Communion.

Read more from the Anglican Communion News Service here; find more details on the Diocese of Georgia’s rescheduled revival here.

Photo: Diocese of Georgia’s Honey Creek retreat center, via Facebook

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