By Paula Schlueter Ross
With massive flooding and numerous evacuations continuing in parts of northern Colorado after more than a foot of rainfall, pastors of area LCMS congregations “are continuing to gather information and assess needs,” according to a statement from the Synod’s Rocky Mountain District office.
Hard-hit Boulder County saw every one of its waterways overflowing, according to news reports, with torrents washing away roads and bridges and flooding homes. Five deaths are attributed to the storms: four in Boulder County and one in El Paso County, and, as of Sunday, Sept. 15, more than 1,250 people have been reported missing.
At least one LCMS congregation has reported floodwater: Hope Lutheran Church in Aurora, Colo., had about an inch of standing water in its basement, damaging carpeting, drywall and furniture in its main conference room and kitchen, according to Vicar Brad Lessman.
A steady rain that started Tuesday evening, Sept. 10, turned into a downpour early Thursday, overwhelming the church’s drainage system.
“We’re in the mountains — how often does it flood here?” Lessman mused during a Reporter phone interview Friday afternoon. By that time the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking out, he said.
The congregation was planning a “cleaning party” for Friday night, “to try to clean up what we can,” said Lessman. At this writing it was not yet known how many of the church’s 300 members had flood damage, but no one was injured or had major losses, he said.
“Storms and devastation like this — you know, it can be destructive and sad,” Lessman added. “But I think it puts everything into perspective. No matter how advanced or technological we get, it just shows that we are utterly dependent on God because He controls all these things. And no matter how advanced we get, He’s still in control.”
According to the Rocky Mountain District, no LCMS pastors have reported flood damage to their own homes, but the district acknowledges that “the largest group negatively impacted by these storms are LCMS parishioners and their communities.”
The district’s disaster-response team — along with LCMS Disaster Response — “stand at the ready to help those affected,” according to the district, as local pastors continue assessments.
“Thank you for your prayers for these pastors, congregations and communities, along with the financial support to the district and Synod disaster-response funds,” says the district in its Sept. 13 statement. “In doing so, you are showing love and mercy to those in need.”
The Rev. John A. Fale, associate executive director of LCMS Mercy Operations, commended the Rocky Mountain District staff and District Disaster Response coordinator “for their quick assessment of congregations and church workers in the affected area.
“LCMS Disaster Response has been with the district in the midst of devastating loss due to fires,” Fale said. “It looks like this will be a more devastating loss to their members and the communities where they live. We are a Synod; therefore, we will accompany them through this recovery as well with prayer and support. May our Lord bring His consolation, hope and courage to all of them.”
To support those in need:
- Make an online gift at https://www.lcms.org/givenow/disaster.
- Mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster Relief”) to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- Call toll-free 888-930-4438 (8:10 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday).
The Colorado chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is asking for volunteers who can offer food and shelter to flood victims, but all volunteers must be background-checked and currently affiliated with a VOAD agency. For more information, contact the LCMS Church Information Center at 888-843-5267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Synod’s response to disasters, visit lcms.org/disaster.
Updated Sept. 16, 2013