Churches get grants for ice-storm recovery

Two Missouri congregations received $47,500 in initial emergency grants from LCMS World Relief/Human Care and the Missouri District after a Jan. 12-14 ice storm sent trees, limbs, and power lines down throughout the region.

The congregations are Trinityice storm Lutheran Church, Freistatt, Mo. ($25,000 from LCMS World Relief/Human Care), and First Lutheran Church, Neosho ($17,500 from the LCMS and $5,000 from the district).  Most of those funds are to help congregation members purchase electrical generators and clear debris.

Also hard-hit was Monett, Mo., where St. John Lutheran Church is located.

Termed by news outlets as the most devastating ice storm to hit the Missouri Ozarks in decades, it caused a number of deaths, countless destroyed and damaged buildings, and power outages for millions.  Some were without electricity for more than a week.

President George W. Bush declared the 300-plus-mile area from St. Louis southwest through Joplin a disaster area, after Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt called out the National Guard.

“I couldn’t imagine how freezing rain and sleet could do all that,” said Rev. Carlos Hernandez, director of districts and congregations with LCMS World Relief/ Human Care, after conducting an assessment in the area Jan. 22-24.  “In some areas it was like beautiful artwork, and in others it looked like a bomb had hit.”

Dr. William Doubek, pastor of First Lutheran, Neosho, accompanied Hernandez as he visited members in the area.

Hernandez told Reporter that he, Doubek, and LCMS World Relief/Human Care Associate Executive Director John Fale have contacted Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) “in preparation for possible partnerships in meeting long-term, unmet needs.

“We want our congregations to know that LCMS World Relief/ Human Care responds to immediate needs,” Hernandez said, “and provides for long-term disaster relief and recovery needs they might have through our Emergency Disaster Grants and in partnership with LDR and LCMS districts.”

Hernandez also visited with elders and the principal of Trinity, Freistatt, which currently has a pastoral vacancy. They pointed out that many of their 53 families affected by the storm are made up of elderly and/or economically depressed members.

Hernandez said that as he was leaving Freistatt, he had a call from Rev. Richard Cody, pastor of the Monett congregation, who was beginning to put together a grant request.

“These congregations could use much more help — now and for some time to come,” Hernandez told Reporter, adding that “it all depends on the loving generosity of donors.”

To donate toward ice-storm relief, make checks payable to LCMS World Relief and send them to LCMS World Relief, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-9810.  Write “Ice Storms 2007” in the memo line.  Gifts also may be donated securely online at or via telephone by calling (888) 930-4438.

Posted Feb. 2, 2007

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