We have seen and heard the news of the tornadoes and straight line winds that caused significant damage in the Midwest yesterday afternoon and evening. We hold our Illinois sisters and brothers in prayer. The facebook page of the Presbytery of Great Rivers, with offices in Peoria (near the cities of Washington and Pekin, Illinois), shows a sobering photograph:
Our own Washington, Indiana, has also sustained significant damage, according to Governor Mike Pence. I have been in touch with the Rev. Cheryl Thorne (pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington) several times today. She reports that several homes on the west side of Washington have been flattened. She spent most of the day trying to account for all the families in her congregation, which she has been able to do. The Rev. Alan Finnan, pastor of Upper Indiana Church in Vincennes, reports that the tornado damage in south Knox County affected farmland, destroyed a barn and caused major damage to a home. At this point, the Presbytery will coordinate its resources through the sessions of congregations in the affected communities. We will be back in touch as these sessions and pastors ask us to.
This afternoon I joined a conference call with Indiana VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). Officials are still assessing the damage, and disaster relief organizations are getting in place. As is usually the case in the early days following a disaster, is is important that those who are not residents of the affected communities stay away. Volunteer sites will be set up when outside help is needed. Donations of clothing and other supplies are not needed, and often impinge on recovery efforts.
Those wishing to make financial contributions may give to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, or to the disaster relief fund of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley.
And prayers are always appreciated! Please do not underestimate the difference made by your heartfelt prayers and loving thoughts. And as we do so, we remember and affirm that in life and in death, and in all the circumstances of life, we belong to God. And we belong to each other. Thanks be to God for these blessed connections.
Peace and all good,
The Rev’d. Susan C. McGhee
The Presbytery of Ohio Valley