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The BWM continues to receive generous donations to help us respond in light of the myriad of disasters in the last several weeks. Below is an update regarding the current status of our response.
The BWM has sent a Moravian Disaster Response trailer down to Port Arthur, Texas to assist with the relief efforts. The trailer was filled on Sunday the 24th, and early morning of the 25th with items donated by congregations in Southern Wisconsin. These items will help supplement the BWM tools already in the trailer, and be used in the reconstruction of a local church and in the homes of members who have experienced damage to (and in some cases total loss of) their homes.
The trailer left before dawn on Monday, September 25th, and has arrived safely at the Good Shepherd Moravian Church, a Unity of the Brethren Congregation with some Moravian roots. Many thanks to our three volunteers Phil, Aaron, and Jon (pictured L to R) who drove the trailer to Texas from Wisconsin, and helped provide some initial assessments on the church and homes to be addressed first.
Two distributions of funds have been made to support this work from MDR funds. A plan is now in place to start sending teams down to Texas starting as soon as people are available. If you have not yet filled out the form at the link above (click on the “Volunteer Now” button) please fill it out to be put on our email list regarding team information.
Initially we will be sending teams no larger than 6 people due to current needs, and accommodations currently being a camp out in the church building. Hotels remained full of families who cannot yet return to their homes, limiting our options as we plan for additional accommodations. Each team will also need to have at least one skilled member to help direct the work of the team members. Please be in touch with any other questions.
Hurricane Irma and Maria
Currently the Moravian Church in Cuba is holding its first Synod as a Mission Province of the Worldwide Moravian Unity. BWM staff member Rt. Rev Sam Gray is attending the Synod, along with BWM board member Joe Jarvis and other representatives of BWM partner, the Armando Rusindo Mission Foundation. They are receiving updates from each region as to the specific needs resulting from and damage incurred by Hurricane Irma. Several initial reports have indicated various levels of impact across the island. Specifically, the farm project of the church in Camaguey was particularly hit, destroying the two buildings on site, and drowning some of the livestock.
Upon return the BWM will be receiving a report on this damage and planning a further response in Cuba. Please hold this church, its members, and its Synod in your prayers.
Sam shared this update on Wednesday, September 27th:
Sam is with the 68 voting delegates, 11 observers, 1 consultant and 5 other invited guests who have gathered in Havana for the Synod of the Cuban Moravian Mission Province. The 9 working committees are meeting this afternoon and will begin bringing reports and resolutions at the Plenary Session this evening. Tomorrow afternoon there will be elections for the Provincial Board (including a president to replace brother Armando Rusindo, who has served the church faithfully and effectively over the past years). Please keep all of these brothers and sisters in your prayers.
The BWM has made an initial allocation of MDR funds to the EWI Province, and remained in contact about the best plan for further steps. A MDR Staff member will be traveling to the EWI Province to view the damage and help plan for work teams as soon as it becomes possible to do so. Currently (as stated in the updated below) airports remained closed, and communication spotty. Many of the Virgin Islands still have a curfew in place (6pm to 9am on St. Thomas and 4pm to 12pm on St. Croix) giving only short periods of time for errands, clean-up etc.
Additionally, as power remains out in much of the area, many people are not able to use ATMs to access their funds. This is a problem as many stores are also currently only accepting cash.
Please do keep these areas in prayer as the relief efforts begin, but they will be slow. Pray for safe travels as airports re-open and families are reunited after members have been trapped away from their home, traveling when the storm hit with no airport open to get them back to their families.
We received the following update from Rev. Cortroy Jarvis, Chariman of the EWI Province, along with the letter below. Please read for a further update on the situation in the EWI being monitored by the BWM. If you wish to respond to the requests in the letter please be in touch with the BWM (email@example.com) to discuss further.
Communication is still an issue in St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola and St. Croix. So many Islands have been devastated by these hurricanes that we are just seeking to do our best to assist in our Mission. We would appreciate more funds but we have not yet received estimates on each Sanctuary, manse and School building that has been damaged. Until then, we will wait.
Volunteer Teams would definitely be needed especially in St. John and St. Croix and to a lesser extent, St. Thomas.The Airports in St. Croix, St. Thomas and Tortola have been closed indefinitely and so it is difficult to set dates to visit them at this time. As soon as the Airports are reopened, I will communicate to you regarding future visits.
September 14, 2017
Harvey / Irma Updates from the Board of World Mission
BWM has been receiving generous donations for Moravian Disaster Response (MDR) and has begun the process of disbursing funds to Texas (Port Arthur and other Texas Brethren churches) and the Eastern West Indies Province (St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola, Antigua).
Plans are in place for deploying MDR trailers and teams to Texas and possibly Florida, as needed.
We continue to receive updates from Cuba, Florida, Texas, and the Eastern West Indies and will pass on information as it is received. Brother Cortroy Jarvis (chair of the EWI Province and chair of the Worldwide Moravian Unity) says that the situation in St. John is especially bad; the sanctuary and manse of Emmaus Moravian Church there have been destroyed and the roof of the Bethany Moravian Church was blown off. Antigua is doing pretty well but very involved with relief efforts in Barbuda. Air travel to Tortola and St. Thomas has not been restored as yet and communication is difficult.
The Cuba Mission Province Synod will be held September 26 thru 28, despite significant damage and destruction throughout the island. BWM staff Sam Gray and members of the Armando Rusindo Mission Foundation will attend and will return with more detailed information concerning the most effective ways in which we can help.
Thank you for your prayers and your ongoing support for these important relief and rebuilding efforts. Donations to help support MDR as it partners in the recovery can be made online (click “Donations”). Please use the online giving form, and in the comment section, designate the donation for “Moravian Disaster Response.”
Donations within the US can also be sent directly to the Board of World Mission at the address below. In the memo line, please write “Moravian Disaster Response.”
Board of World Mission
PO Box 1245
Bethlehem, PA 18016-1245
If you are interested in getting information on joining teams to help in the recovery and rebuilding efforts for this, or other disasters, please enter your contact information (click highlighted “information”), and the BWM will follow up with you regarding any specific opportunities to get involved.
The Cuban Council of Churches will participate actively in the recovery efforts following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.
Psalm 46:1 – 5
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.”
Cuba faced a unique and unprecedented phenomenon when Hurricane Irma severely affected eleven provinces of the archipelago. During its devastating passage it remained category 5 for more than 72 hours and with a slow movement that allowed it to be parked in several of the territories that suffered more damages, with effects of hurricane or tropical storm winds. Among the most significant effects are the loss of ten lives, even when more than one million people were evacuated; the total or partial collapse of thousands of homes and the loss of the material resources of a large number of Cuban families; severe damage to flora and fauna that has not yet been quantified; devastation in several coastal zones of both coasts as well as in the cays adjacent to the central provinces of the country, including severe damages in protected areas.
Hurricane Irma is the first meteorological phenomenon to compromise the functioning of the national electro-energy system critically. This caused more than half of the country to be without electricity for more than 72 hours. The tourism sector – the main economic line of the island – suffered severe damages just one month before the beginning of the high tourist season. This implies a strong blow to the national economy and a challenge to the responsiveness for the recovery of the facilities and natural areas that constitute tourist destinations.
Even though the Cuban state has mobilized large resources to protect the population, serious difficulties persist in several provinces with basic resources such as water and food, as well as situations that may compromise epidemiological stability and cause a health emergency. Since the deep damage that Irma caused, the Council of Churches of Cuba and its National and Regional Emergency Committees, as well as groups in local areas, in partnership with national and local authorities and other civic social service organizations , adopted several measures aimed at both prevention and response, following compliance with established protocols. Numerous churches and pastoral homes served as evacuation and refuge centers for Cubans and many Cubans supported work such as the transportation of evacuees and the distribution of drinking water through the network of water systems installed in churches and centers.
After an evaluation of the affectations caused by Irma and several field visits in provinces such as Havana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey and Las Tunas, the Council of Churches of Cuba is in dialogue with the Cuban authorities, as well as numerous international organizations and platforms that have sent messages of solidarity and expressed their willingness to contribute to the recovery of the Cuban people. Among them are ACT-Alliance which is helping to organize a comprehensive response and accompany us with personnel, Bread for the World, Missionary Work of Berlin, CBM, Diakonia Sweden, different Bible Societies in the world, Dominican Church Social Service, Disciples of Christ Church of the USA, National Council of Churches of Christ of the United States, Servants United Around the World of the United States, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision, Wine to Water, The Presbyterian Church of the United States USA, Haven Today and the Board of World Mission of the Moravian Church in North America.
As part of the aid, food, medicines, toilet kits, construction tools and water filters, among other resources, have been offered as well as pastoral support and psychosocial care in affected communities. Volunteers of the Missionary Work of Berlin have announced their arrival in Cuban territory in two weeks to join the work of recovery. As has happened with previous natural phenomena, the Council of Churches of Cuba will have an active participation in the recovery of the Cuban people and will continue to share its message of faith and hope. From its ecumenical vocation, the CIC invites its members and friends throughout the world to join efforts in the service of those who today suffer the psychological, spiritual and material consequences of such a devastating hydrometeorological event.