The Rev. Bill Engfehr, interim pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Litchfield, Ill., and an LCMS emergency-services chaplain, has been recognized by the American Red Cross for his “significant contributions to building community resiliency.”
Engfehr, of Collinsville, Ill., and three others who received the Red Cross Community Preparedness and Resiliency Award “have increased the ability of our community to ‘bounce back’ after a disaster,” according to the Red Cross. “This is done by improving the physical, psychological, social or economic capacity to withstand, quickly adapt and successfully recover from a disaster. Our goal is to help communities recover quickly and completely.”
Engfehr said he was “shocked” and “humbled” to receive the award, which was presented during the 2014 American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Academy, Sept. 23 in Clayton, Mo., where he led a workshop on “Caring for Survivors of Trauma and Disaster: An Introduction to Psychological First Aid.” Some 200 people attended the academy, which is designed to help businesses, schools and organizations develop and refine their emergency plans.
Engfehr is active in disaster response and crisis-intervention pastoral ministry in the St. Louis area. He is certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2005.
With his experience and understanding in both the disaster-response and church realms, Engfehr considers his service as “building a bridge between community disaster preparedness and the faith-based community.”
His recent Red Cross award cites his work with tornado victims in New Minden, Ill., last November and in Pilger, Neb., this past June.
In New Minden, Engfehr responded the day after the Nov. 17, 2013, storm as disaster-response coordinator for the LCMS Southern Illinois District — organizing cleanup crews and setting up a base of operations that drew community responders to Saint John Lutheran Church there.
“So the church’s disaster response became the county’s disaster response, kind of by default,” Engfehr told Reporter. Community agencies “were so impressed with what we were doing that they just started channeling everything … to Saint John’s church.”
In Pilger, Engfehr ministered primarily to St. John Lutheran Church Pastor Rev. Terry Makelin and his wife after both the church and the parsonage where they lived were destroyed. Over four days, Engfehr talked with the Makelins, took over Sunday preaching duties and encouraged the congregation to give their pastor some time off for recreation, even though he was handling the stress very well.
Helping pastors stay healthy in the midst of a crisis is vital to keeping them “engaged in ministry to their congregations and communities,” Engfehr notes, and he urges more LCMS pastors to consider serving as emergency-services chaplains. Engfehr says “it’s a natural fit” for pastors, who are called to share the love and care of Jesus with others.
He noted that the LCMS is developing an endorsement process for pastors and other rostered church workers who want to serve as emergency-services chaplains, and he encouraged those who are interested to contact the Rev. Joel Hempel, manager of LCMS Specialized Pastoral Ministry, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-996-1388.
Posted Oct. 23, 2014