September 14, 2020
My Dear Friends,
One week ago, the caustic easterly winds hit that created one of, if not the biggest, fire disaster in our state’s history. The communities in our valley have experienced significant damages and losses. Parts of Talent and Phoenix are still under level 3 evacuation orders, and with the next weather front coming in, the entirety of Jackson County is under level 1 evacuation. Simply put, the disaster is not over; it is still happening.
This means that we are operating in crisis mode. From what I have heard so far, ten persons connected with our congregation have had significant damage to or lost their homes entirely.
Please keep Chuck Bridges and David Dismuke; Carol Heisel; Tia Hatch; Coyote Marie Hunter-Ripper; Peggy & Lutie Lyman, Sharon Schmidt; and Diana & Fred Kaya in your prayers.
The need is great! The amazing news is that in the midst of this chaos, anxiety, and grief, the drive of compassion, hospitality and generosity is strong. Melinda and I were among the evacuees, and we were graciously invited into the Rices’ COVID-19 circle and offered a place to stay until we were able to move back into our home. We can barely put into words how grateful we are for their hospitality. This kindness and big-heartedness is indicative of who we are as a congregation.
So many have reached out in hospitality and love –offering homes, supplies and funds. We have developed Outlets of Grace to help fill your need to help and serve.
We established a Fire Relief as an extension of our Neighbor’s Fund where people can make financial donations, which will be distributed to members of our congregation and community that need help. There are ways to give:
1) We have a designated “button” on our home page labeled “Fire Relief Fund.” Follow the instructions provided.
2) Send us a check and indicate: “Neighbor’s Fund: Fire Relief.
Please remember that we cannot disperse funds specifying individual persons or families.
As the days unfold, we will be expanding our Outlets of Grace as we identify emerging needs, such as partnering with Medford UMC as they become an emergency housing location for displaced families. Once I hear about their needs, I will share these with you.
John 13:34-35 says: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NRSV) In short: They will know we are Christians by our love.
So, I say, “My friends, you are such lovely people!”
God’s blessings to you!
Rev. Dr. Brett Strobel