Lutherans helping neighbors in Katy, Texas

Erik Brown, left, and Eric Hollar, volunteers from Memorial Lutheran Church, Katy, Texas, clear debris Sept. 1 at a home damaged by Hurricane Harvey. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

By Kevin Armbrust

KATY, Texas — “We put out a call for volunteers, and the next day, over 100 people showed up,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Weider, associate pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church here. “Most of those people weren’t even members of our church. They just came and helped.”

Memorial Lutheran Church is in the middle of a neighborhood devastated by the flooding around Houston. The church building and the preschool were hit hard by floodwaters, with the preschool perhaps being a total loss. 

Helping anyone with needs

Members of Memorial are taking to the streets near the congregation. Alyce Lagrone and Debbie Welsh worked to help neighbors of the church clean out their house. They didn’t know them, but they walked down the street to see who needed help. Where there is need, they work.

“We are just trying to help anyone who has needs” said Lagrone, “We are going door to door to find out who has needs. We do whatever they need done.”

Today that need was removing wet and molding drywall and baseboards for the Hamiltons, who just moved into the neighborhood four months ago. With strangers in her house helping remove debris, Dehia Hamilton, who noted that her family is still searching for a church home, said, “God is good. All the time.” 

Alyce Lagrone, a member at Memorial Lutheran Church, Katy, Texas, removes flood-damaged baseboards from a home damaged by Hurricane Harvey. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

Damage — and help — ‘unbelievable’

“Unbelievable to see what happened,” observed Debbie Welsh. Looking around and thinking about her experiences over the last few days, she said, “It’s unbelievable to see all the help and donations.”

John Davis, a director of Christian education intern at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Ridgewood, N.J., came down to help. His father is senior pastor of Memorial Lutheran in Katy. John grew up in Katy and came down from New Jersey to help those in his old neighborhood.

“It’s crazy. You are used to seeing the Red Cross on TV,” said Davis, as he bikes around Katy helping people. “But now, it’s for your city.” 

“This has helped me think about God’s faithfulness,” said Ryan Legler, a director of Christian education at Memorial, who was living in the no-longer-livable parsonage. Even as his family struggles to find a permanent place to live, Ryan observed, “in the New Testament, Jesus calmed the storm first and then answered the disciples’ questions. … This is my God who is still with me.” 

Christ is ‘only hope’

At this writing, the waters in other areas of Houston, not far from Katy, are not yet receding. Homes are under 6 feet of water, and it may be many days before the waters ebb. Boat rescues are occurring within walking distance of Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston. The church parking lot even served as a landing spot for a rescue helicopter.

“You never know what the Holy Spirit is going to do through this,” said the Rev. Robert Daniel “Danny” Anderson, pastor of Christ Memorial. The community, like others throughout Texas, is coming together to help each other. “When people have nothing, they look to God. Perhaps they will believe that even when we have everything, Christ is still the only hope we have.”

Pastor Anderson noted that more people have volunteered for the relief efforts than for any other function his congregation has ever had. He continues to pray and work so that people find relief not just from floods but from their sin. “These people, like all of us, need Jesus. I’m praying that even through this, God brings them to Him.”

Primary need: donations

The primary need right now is for donations to fund the relief effort. There are several giving options:

OnlineHarvey donation form.

Text — Type LCMSHarvey into the text message field and send it to 41444. You’ll receive a text back with a link to a phone-friendly, secure donation form.

Phone — Call 888-930-4438 to make a credit-card donation. Calling hours (Central time) begin at 8 a.m. and have been extended to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-10.

Mail — Make check payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” or “LCMS.” On the memo line, please write “Disaster Response/Relief” or “Hurricane Harvey.” Mail your donation to: The LCMS, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.

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Dr. Kevin Armbrust ( is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.

Posted September 2, 2017 / Updated September 7, 2017

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