Response to Northern California Fires

Response to Northern California Fires

We have been in direct communication in the last 48 hours with the pastors and leaders of congregations in the fire areas in our synod. Here is the latest information we have about the fires that continue to burn in northern California:

  • Our churches near Yosemite (Mountain Lutheran in Groveland and Mariposa Lutheran in Mariposa) are undamaged. Some members have been evacuated, some have been allowed to return home. The situation remains uncertain with regard to when the fire will be fully contained.
  • St. James Lutheran in Redding is undamaged. It is not in an evacuation area. They have cancelled their VBS program for the coming week. They will also be making space for All Saints Episcopal to worship, since All Saints is in a mandatory evacuation area. Many members have been evacuated, we are uncertain if any members of St. James have lost their homes. One third of the residents of Redding have been evacuated, and over 500 structures have been destroyed.

Many have asked what can be done to offer support and encouragement for those who have suffered terrible, sudden loss. We are suggesting donations to two places — Lutheran Social Services of Northern California and Lutheran Disaster Response.  Donations to Lutheran Social Services can be designated for needs in northern California in general. To donate to specific congregations, indicate the name of the congregation in the designated donation box. 100% of these monies will be given directly to churches and ministries that have been affected by the fires. Donations to Lutheran Disaster Relief can be designated to “US Wildfires” and will be used more generally to support communities that have been affected by fires during the summer (and likely into the fall fire season) throughout the west. 100% of donations so designated will be used by LDR to offer support to affected communities.

You may also choose to donate to the American Red Cross. There are immediate needs for food, medical care and shelter that must be met – many people are still waiting for rescue from unsafe locations and adequate shelter once they have been rescued. Monetary donations are a much preferred response – it is easier for the Red Cross to purchase and distribute needed items rather than deal with the logistics of receiving donations in kind.

Please remember in prayer the congregations in the fire areas: St. James, Redding; Mariposa Lutheran, Mariposa, and Mountain Lutheran in Groveland. Other congregations near to these fires are already offering assistance as they are able. Please keep all in these communities in your prayers, as well as the firefighters and other first responders who are assisting in providing rescue and safety.

A suggested prayer from the ELW Armed Services Prayer Book:

Loving God, in the communion of Christ, we are joined with the sufferings of all. Be with those who are enduring the effects of the fires which are burning in our area of witness and service. Protect those in the path of danger. Open pathways for evacuation and shelter. Help loved ones find one another in the chaos. Provide assistance to those who need help. Let your love be made known in those who seek to bring order in the chaos. Help us to shoulder the burden of suffering, and make us bearers of the hope that is your healing gift in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

God’s Peace,
Bp. Mark

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