Bishop Larry Benfield of the Diocese of Arkansas points out there are some small slivers of hope in the midst of the devastation that the tornadoes caused late this week.
“In Arkansas, the state has long had a relationship with disaster response teams established by different churches. For example, Presbyterians store supplies between natural disasters, Baptists have chainsaw ministries, and Episcopalians provide trucks and drivers to transport goods. Social media and emails have gotten out the news of what needs to be done this time.
Toby Rowe, an Arkansas Episcopalian whose house was destroyed when a massive tornado swept through Vilonia Monday evening, said that among the first people he saw were Church of Christ volunteers passing out boxes containing supplies that families would need in the first 24 hours after losing a home. As clean up from the storms began, three congregations in downtown Little Rock — Second Baptist Church, First Methodist Church, and Christ Episcopal Church — put out a call for volunteers to assist in debris removal. Another church is taking in the pets of people who have no place for them now that their owners are living in emergency shelters or apartments rented by their insurance companies. Stories are coming in to denominational offices about church buildings whose roofs have been blown off. In almost every case, church members interviewed say that they are thankful that lives were spared, and they have announced that they are going to rebuild; the focus has not been on the wrath of a God who would allow such a thing to happen.
The amazing thing about this series of storms is that it has done much to bring churches together that historically have had little to do with one another. The response to segregation in the South left many churches at odds with one another when the Civil Rights movement began. Those feelings were very slow to heal. In more recent years, differences of opinion on issues such as gay marriage and the acceptance of Muslims in local communities have once again divided churches.
But the overwhelming violence of the storms — and their lack of distinction between believer and non-believer — has served as a catalyst that encourages people of different faiths to work together. That may be one positive legacy of this spring’s storm season.”
There’s more here.