Good Word from the Rector & Bishop: Hurricane Harvey Response

What if I have been affected by this storm?
If you, your family, or your neighbors are in an immediate need, we welcome your call to the Good Shepherd church office: 512.476.3523. We are ready to support you in any way we can.

Dear Parish Family & Friends,

The experience of this cool and sunny Tuesday morning in Austin, Texas can wear our hearts uncomfortably when we know of our neighbors’ anguish. For many of us, we have been through our own hurricanes, fires, and floods, and the ache we have carried through the weekend is a familiar and tender one. Prayer seems a meager response and can even exaggerate our sense of helplessness.

Thanks be to God, as members of the Body of Christ, The Episcopal Church, and Good Shepherd, we do not confront these challenges alone. As we prepare for our congregation’s response to the storm, we look to partner with the infrastructure and boots-on-the-ground leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and our sister congregations in Houston and along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Yesterday afternoon, Bishop Doyle wrote to the Diocese, and, below (in bold), I share with you his direction for us:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I continue to give thanks for all those around the world who are praying for South Texas and for this Diocese. It is of great comfort to us to know that we are connected to and supported by the larger Body of Christ.

As we move into the next days, many are beginning to ask how to help. The city is a mess, there is more to come, and there are advisories against venturing out onto the roads. Managing water levels in dams and levees is an unfolding issue. Flooding will continue to worsen in some areas. The Diocese expects to be hit on the east side again as Harvey moves back into the Gulf and advances into Houston. We do not want to jeopardize life, so until further updates, here is what you can do:

How everyone can help:

1. BE SAFE AND DONATE. Give funds to EDOT or to Episcopal Relief and Development. ERD and Diocesan staff have already begun to help coordinate relief efforts.
2. Pray for all who are in harm’s way, all responders, all who are displaced, all who have suffered catastrophic loss.

If you are local to the greater Houston area:

1. Organize resources you have in your congregation or community.
2. IF IT IS SAFE, be a neighbor and help a neighbor over the next 48 hours. Help your neighborhood. Gather people for prayer and comfort. Feed people if you have food. Hold a potluck. Let people charge their phones. There are many, many ways you can be a compassionate neighbor to those around you.
3. As long as the path is dry and safe, the George R. Brown Emergency (Convention) Center is in need of volunteers, particularly to prepare and serve meals. Information about volunteering may be found here. Several thousand people are sheltered there and more are arriving all the time. Check your route for water hazards before you go.

Once the waters have receded:

1. We will coordinate relief efforts and get them going as soon as it is safe, working collaboratively with our congregations.
2. Diocesan resources will be available for follow-up with churches whose buildings have been damaged.

We are focused at this time on the immediate crisis. We are, however, committed to coordinating a response for the long term — this is a marathon, not a race. Many additional needs will be identified over the days and weeks to come. As many of us return to our regular routines, we will keep those who don’t have that luxury in view through our prayers and service.

As Bishop Doyle names, Harvey has provoked need that will demand our constancy, more than our urgency, particularly for us at this distance. Even so, we are now at work to identify local opportunities to support the displaced and the flooded. In addition to the financial resourcing the Bishop invites, I encourage your continuing prayer:

Holy and Loving God, watch over all those in harm’s way, in this hour and in the days to come. Bless and guide those whose work imperils them, and give them strength and courage as they respond to the needs of those they serve. Finally, lend us at Good Shepherd the compassion of your Holy Spirit, sorrowing with those who grieve, and doing what you would have us do in support of our neighbors. All this we ask in the name of your Christ who calms the storm. Amen.

Blessings to all,

Morgan

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