Monday, September 29, 2008

Mike Cole's Monday the 29th Update

I’m starting out today’s update with a paragraph from Carol Tompkins email to her congregation – Westminster PC in Beaumont. Carol’s advice is right on target for lots of folks in our presbytery.

“Please remember that we're once again dealing with a traumatic experience. Be gentle with yourselves and each other. Even if you didn't sustain major damage, the closeness to our Rita experience may trigger difficult moments. I know that for me there's just too much sky. I vaguely recall feeling the same thing after Rita, and it puts me in a bit of a fog whenever I realize there's just too much sky. I suspect when my neighbors start getting their roofs repaired, the sound of nailguns will probably trigger similar feelings. For others, it may be scents or different sounds; remembered landscapes that just don't look right, or any of a number of random senses. Don't try to brush it off and ignore it. Acknowledge what you're feeling, recognize it for what it is, and do whatever it takes to heal and get beyond it. We each go through the process of recovery in our own ways. Respect that in yourself and one another. It's another long journey we'll be taking with this one. Know that we are each wrapped in the never-ending love of Jesus as we once again go through the process of healing.”

Yesterday, I worshipped with FPC, Dickinson, FPC, Galveston and Emmanuel PC, Galveston. Each worship service was distinct and beautifully led. There were a lot of heartfelt prayers and tears among the members as they shared stories of the storm and what they are facing. These congregations are courageous as they face an enormous challenge because they know that they do not face these difficulties alone.

Don’t forget our presbytery-wide worship on Sunday, October 5 at 3 pm at FPC, Dickinson and Trinity PC, Port Neches as we praise the Lord for seeing us through this crisis, hold one another in prayer, celebrate communion and enjoy the fellowship of the family.

Tricia Pogue, our Presbytery Volunteer Coordinator for Ike Recovery has a new direct phone line in her office at CLPC – (281) 957-5859. Tricia’s email is: pda@clpc.org. Please contact Tricia for assistance, if you want to volunteer or if your church would be wiling to host work groups.

Photo Request - This request came in from Shane Whisler, the Director of Communications for the Synod of the Sun: anyone with any hurricane damage photos, please mail to Shane Whisler, Synod's director of communications: editor@pnnews.com. We cannot use photos from other company/news websites.

Our Ike Recovery Team is beginning to solicit churches that have the wherewithal to “adopt” or partner with a church in need. If your session or church would be interested in this partnership, please contact Tricia Pogue.

Those who would like to be trained as a spiritual care giver in disaster situations may attend the Spiritual Care Team Training event in Dallas on October 13(noon)-14 ( 3 pm). For more information, email Rick Carus - rick@gracepresbytery.org

A fund is available for any congregation needing disaster recovery financial assistance. Requests for up to $10,000 can be made by any congregation on behalf of itself or one or more individuals. Please complete the grant application on our website and mail to the Presbytery of New Covenant. Please contact Lisa Simpkins, Outreach Ministries Committee, at 713.412.3396 or lsimpkins@fulbright.com if you have any questions.


News from SETIO (Southeast Texas Interfaith Organization) in their recovery efforts in the Golden Triangle, reported by Harland Merriam:

1. PRESBYTERIAN CLUSTER IN OUR AREA. Pastors and lay leaders from five of our area's ten PC(USA) Congregations met for lunch on Thursday, September 25th. Mary Marcotte, our Associate Presbyter for New Covenant Presbytery met with us, too. The congregations were: Trinity Port Neches, First Jasper, Pioneer Beaumont, Westminster Beaumont, St. Andrews Beaumont. We did a "roll call" finding out how each one of us was doing, how our members were doing, and how our church buildings were doing. We talked together about the PDA Village proposal, about how the Presbytery was organizing, and about a joint worship time on October 5th at Trinity Presbyterian in Port Neches. We'll meet again in a month, working on several projects in the interim.

2. SETIO "TABLE". Approximately 40 folks met at the second weekly SETIO "table" on Thursday afternoon from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. We shared information about both Relief and Long Term Recovery efforts in progress. The key Long Term Recovery players include United Methodist, Lutheran, Disciples, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists, and Christian Reformed.


As Chair, I convened the SETIO Board of Directors after the "table" meeting. We confirmed our roll as the larger, umbrella organization for our region, seeing ourselves as pulling together and organizing the "table" for the Long Term Disaster Recovery Effort. We still have some defining to do as to the effective functioning of this "table". Several state and denominational groups have asked us to play this function. Also, earlier in the week, the local VOAD also confirmed the benefit of us assuming this function. We will be adding new Board Members at our meeting next week, to include more leaders from across our region.


I know our area recovery work has been very effective with our Case Management Round Table, which has not been led by SETIO, but by another of our area organization case management leaders. This group has done outstanding work with training volunteer case managers, bringing together various organizations to communicate and coordinate cases over the past three years. I hope we will re-energize this excellent work.

We are asking the "Directors" of the major Long Term Recovery Groups to meet sometime next week to talk together about these two elements: SETIO organizing the "table" for Long Term work, and someone organizing a regional cooperative effort for the Case Management elements of the work.

We do not yet have agreement on the Volunteer Coordination or the Construction Management elements of the Long Term Recovery effort. I have submitted the information to our Presbyterian Call Center with Beverly Antilley as the local contact for Presbyterian groups coming to our area. I believe she has already scheduled three Presbyterian volunteer groups for the next several weeks. I would expect these groups to work with case/construction management in both the SETIO and UMCOR efforts.

Beaumont, Pioneer – Lloyd Crosby reports that the church had its south-facing stained glass window blown in and its steeple ripped off. A Presbyterian Disaster Assistance team was able to get by and put blue tarps over the damage to keep out the elements. We have rain water damage, but not too much mildew. We have been running the air conditioner full blast to dry it out as much as we can.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What PDA is Doing and Where to Send Contributions

Today's Update from GP Rev. Mike Cole:

I know that some of you receiving these updates are wondering why the Presbytery or PDA isn’t coordinating immediate work sites and projects. The most direct answer is that other faith and volunteer groups are already equipped to organize for short-term immediate relief. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, when others specialize in this part of the recovery effort.

Presbyterians have stepped up to the challenge of long-term recovery work, which takes time to organize for a sustained effort over a period of months or years. Many of the groups and organizations who specialize in the short-term relief work will be gone within a few weeks. That’s when the Presbytery and PDA efforts will go into effect. Thus, for now, the best way for individuals or groups to serve is through SETIO in the Golden Triangle, Volunteer Houston or UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). After all, the name under which we all serve is Jesus Christ, not just Presbyterian.

The Ike Recovery Team will be working on ways to establish partnerships between churches in need with churches with resources. Your church does not have to wait to establish a partnership – please feel free to initiate this on your own. It would help us to know what is happening, so give Tricia a call.

Contributions for Hurricane Ike Recovery may be sent to:

The Presbytery of New Covenant

1110 Lovett Blvd.

Houston, TX 77006

Memo line: Ike Recovery Fund

Contributions for the 2008 hurricane recovery efforts may be sent to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance: www.pcusa.org/pda

By the way, I plan on taking tomorrow and Saturday off as much as possible so the next update will come out on Sunday or Monday.

Just a reminder: Sunday, October 5 at 3 pm will be the time for our presbytery to gather in two locations: Trinity Presbyterian Church, Port Neches and First Presbyterian Church in Dickinson. We will celebrate communion, praise God, give thanks, prayer for all our churches by name and enjoy the fellowship of the presbytery family. Please make plans to attend and bring as many in your congregation as possible. We’d love to overflow both sites with praising Presbyterians!

Tricia Pogue, our Presbytery Volunteer Coordinator for Ike Recovery has a new direct phone line in her office at CLPC – (281) 957-5859. Tricia’s email is: pda@clpc.org. Please contact Tricia for assistance, if you want to volunteer or if your church would be wiling to host work groups.

Contact Information for the Army Corp of Engineers Blue Roof Program – (832) 851-3920. Blue rood tarps are available for pick up to protect homes with roof damage. You may also request someone to deliver and install the tarp.

Everyone should be aware that there are some fraud activities in our area. FEMA does not go door to door and they do not ask anyone to fill out forms. All FEMA representatives have photo ID’s. If there is any doubt about a person at your door, ask them to return later. Then report the incident to FEMA.

FEMA urges those in need to hold on to finances as long as possible until FEMA can coordinate assistance. The needs are enormous and they are working as fast as they can.

Church and Congregation Updates:

Livingston, FPC – The clerk/church secretary reports that the church has major damage to the sanctuary. The upstairs ceiling ended up in the parlor, narthex and nursery. There was water damage to the activity building also. Both buildings are unusable for the time being but we are well on the way with removal of moldy stuff. All activities and worship will be in the fellowship building. We thank God for this new building even more than before. We were able to have one service last week – more of a prayer and praise. Hopefully this week we will have both services.

Presbytery Volunteer Recovery Coordinator Named

September 24 Update

We have a Presbytery Volunteer Coordinator for Ike RecoveryTricia Pogue, a member of FPC, Pasadena and wife of Dean Pogue, the pastor is being trained in this volunteer position. Tricia will have an office at CLPC. As soon as we have a direct line installed for her, we’ll get that information out. In the meantime, she can be contacted by phone at: 281-488-6850 x330 or email at pda@clpc.org

Tricia’s responsibilities are:

  1. Answer phone calls and direct volunteers to the proper resource so that they may respond to the disaster
  2. Track requests for assistance
  3. Refer inquires for donations to the proper source for designation (presbytery or PDA)
  4. Collecting information on the skills that are available from a group
  5. Referring skills summary to a project manager for follow-through when appropriate
  6. Create and mange the database of volunteer groups and skills and refer to the project manager
  7. When Villages are operational, follow up with interested groups and review procedures for referring registrations to the PDA National Call Center
  8. Work collaboratively with the Project Manager, Case Manager, and other resource persons as they come on line
  9. To assume responsibilities as requested


Tricia Pogue, needs information on churches who are willing to host work groups. If your church could host a group, call Tricia and register your church as a host.

Opportunities to serve:

Volunteer Houston has a website up and running to register to volunteer at worksites - http://www.volunteerhouston.org/

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has worksites ready for immediate work. To register teams for volunteer for work: www.txcumc.org

Go to Volunteers then Register. Any questions- call Kathie Mann at 713-521-9383.

Ralph Hendricks is a volunteer working the Surfside, Freeport and Angleton area

Ph: 979-236-3630. Ms. Lee Thornton is working the Bayou Vista, Alvin, Texas City and Dickinson area - Ph: 409-925-1216. Register your work team, give them what they can do and how soon they can come. Also advise if your group needs housing.

The Golden Triangle continues to need work groups. To register, call Beverly Antilley is our Golden Triangle Volunteer Coordinator. Her phone 409 223-0118 She can handle groups coming in with work assignments and accommodations and other information.

Photo Request - This request came in from Shane Whisler, the Director of Communications for the Synod of the Sun: anyone with any hurricane damage photos, please mail to Shane Whisler, Synod's director of communications: editor@pnnews.com. We cannot use photos from other company/news websites.

Sunday, October 5 at 3 pm will be the time for our presbytery to gather in two locations: Trinity Presbyterian Church, Port Neches, and First Presbyterian Church in Dickinson. We will celebrate communion, praise God, give thanks, prayer for all our churches by name and enjoy the fellowship of the presbytery family. Please make plans to attend and bring as many in your congregation as possible. We’d love to overflow both sites with praising Presbyterians!

The Golden Triangle Cluster (they call it the Geneva Cluster) is gathering tomorrow at noon at St. Andrew’s in Beaumont for prayer, mutual support and encouragement. This is a great idea for all our clusters.

Here are today’s reports from our churches:

Tiki Island – C.O. Magee reports that Tiki Chapel made it okay. Lost front stairs but have back stairs. Worshiped there Sunday under the sanctuary. Security guards are using sanctuary for dorm so they can sleep in the day and guard island at night. Tiki is really a mess!

LaMarque – C. O. Magee reports that the church did great. Worshiped there Sunday too outside. Just got electricity Sunday afternoon. Glad everyone around here made it okay. Some houses gone though. Lots and lots of destruction.

Galveston, Westminster – Barrett Ingram reports that the church and his home are both fine. They plan on worshipping at the building on Sunday.

Jones Creek, Gulf Prairie – Tommy Badders reports some minor damage to the sanctuary roof but no leakage.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Daily Update from GP Rev. Mike Cole

September 23 Update from General Presbyter Rev. Mike Cole:

The General Council met today and approved the formation of an Ike Recovery Team. The IRT is authorized to meet the immediate needs of the presbytery following the hurricane. Members of the IRT at present are:

Rev. Alan Brehm

Rev. Tom Sharon

Rev. Steve Oglesbee

Rev. Mary Currie

Rev. Pat Clark

Rev. Margaret Desmond

Arnetta Boson

Melissa Brown

The General Council also appointed a planning team to organize two simultaneous worship/communion/fellowship opportunities on Sunday, October 5 (World Communion Sunday) at 3 pm in the Golden Triangle and South Harris County/North Galveston County. As soon as we have the location details, we’ll get the word out. This will be a great time for us as a family to gather to praise God, share our stories and to hear first-hand what is happening in the recovery effort.

We are still seeking someone to serve as a financial officer for the IRT. We also need volunteers to help us for the next couple of months in the following areas:

Worksite Assignment Manger – someone to work with the Volunteer Coordinator in assigning work groups to work sites

Case Workers - people to do on-site visits of families needing assistance. It would be especially helpful to have folks with degrees in social work.

The Golden Triangle area is prepared to receive work groups immediately. Beverly Antilley is our Golden Triangle Volunteer Coordinator. Her phone 409 223-0118 She can handle groups coming in with work assignments and accommodations and other information.

Clean up buckets can be take to Clear Lake Presbyterian Church. CLPC will oversee the distribution of the buckets to the community.

Here are the reports we have received today:

Livingston, FPC – Star Starling reports: The building that houses the sanctuary has a great deal of damage. The oldest building that was called the Activity Building (where we ate supper last year for the Fall Conference) has been damaged too. Both buildings now have mold.

Orange, FPC Jeannie Alexander, Clerk of the Session reports the following:

  • Microbial growth is present in the Fellowship Hall on the ceiling, walls, and furniture.
  • Hatch blew off the roof and let water in through the Sanctuary.
  • Thermal imaging was done and traced the track of the water from the roof where it went throughout the building.
  • Drains were displaced during the storm on top of the building and let water directly in through the pipes.
  • Two return vents in the hardwood floor of Fellowship Hall are drains that lead to the basement, thus how the water entered the Basement.
  • We have no flood insurance. Tidal surge is considered flood water for insurance. We have an 80,000 dollar deductible for our insurance policy on the Lutcher building as per our insurance reps.
  • Basement had less water in it than the flood water outside. Debris line outside was not to the entrance of the church. If it were flood water, it would be equal to the height of the flood water outside.
  • No debris got into the church. Debris line in the yard is the key.
  • The flood was salt water. Basement was pumped and cleaned and there is no evidence of salt water sediment in the basement. It appears the water came from the roof down.
  • Organ pipe chamber was assessed and photographed as well. Microbial growth is present in there as well.
  • Hardwood floors in Fellowship hall were “cupping” from the water. 60% chance they will not lie back down. Floors are unique with the crawl space under the hardwood floors between the floors and the concrete. Concrete and crawl space is being dried now. If we had to install a new floor, a protection could be put in place.
  • Microbial growth is covered by insurance if it is caused by the damage from the storm.
  • The basement has sewage on the wall.
  • Relative humidity was 91.8% when LCI got here.
  • Items are being packed out, cleaned, and put into PODs outside stored cleaned.
  • Water did not run on top of the ceiling in Fellowship Hall. It ran down the drains and the humidity made the ceiling sweat and that was the cause of the microbial growth.
  • Trough around the dome that houses the lights is holding water.
  • Molding in the Sanctuary has fallen down where it got wet.
  • There is water saturation in the Good Shepherd stain glass window frame.
  • Wall by the big columns in the front of the sanctuary by the angels also has 4-5 foot water intrusion in the ceiling there.
  • Fellowship hall ceiling is sagging. When cleaning it, it is possible that the plaster could start to fall.

Photos From First Presbyterian Church, Pasadena

Rev. Dean Pogue, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Pasadena sent the photos in this slideshow. Here is Dean's description of the pictures:

One of our members lives directly on the water in San Leon, about 12 miles south of Clear Lake. According to insurance adjustors, she lost about 85% of her home and its contents. The attached photos show our church cleanup group (First Presbyterian, Pasadena, Texas), responding to her SOS for help.

A few notes: Her house was built on piers, and the steps to her front door were washed away. Entry was via step ladder. The storm surge washed away everything on the ground floor. She lost quite a few sentimental items, although she was able to salvage some family photos, including her high school photo, and ones of her son and her dad.

(Photos courtesy of Dean Pogue)

Thank you, Dean! If you have photos to share, please send them to us and they will be shared on the blog.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Volunteer Opportunities and Church Status Updates

September 22 Update
from Mike Cole


We are getting our support structure in place to coordinate offers of assistance with needs in our communities. We need volunteers to help us for the next couple of months in the following areas:

Worksite Assignment Manger – someone to work with the Volunteer Coordinator in assigning work groups to work sites

Case Workers - people to do on-site visits of families needing assistance. It would be especially helpful to have folks with degrees in social work.

Financial Officer – A CPA serving on the Ike Recovery Team to help administer funds and design systems of financial reporting and accountability.

The Golden Triangle area is prepared to receive work groups immediately. Beverly Antilley is our Golden Triangle Volunteer Coordinator. Her phone 409 223-0118 She can handle groups coming in with work assignments and accommodations and other information.

Clean up buckets can be take to Clear Lake Presbyterian Church. CLPC will oversee the distribution of the buckets to the community.

The High Island Retreat Center will be housing some teachers from the High Island Independent School District who lost their homes to the storm. There is still no electricity on High Island and no generators available. If anyone has a generator they are no longer using and would be wiling to donate/loan it to the Retreat Center, that would be very helpful to those we are housing. The teachers also need food, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

Focus – The discipleship and renewal event of our presbytery is STILL scheduled to happen on Saturday, October 4 at Northwoods. We have extended the early-bird registration deadline to September 29. I would encourage all of us to attend – I plan on being there. It will be a great opportunity to gather with friends and colleagues, be uplifted by great presentations and recover some sense of normalcy.

Here are some recent updates on church communities:

Houston, St. Giles – Greg Feigh reports that that they are without power and will be for at least another week due to a downed line behind the church. They have some wind damage plus water "in the usual places"

Hunstville, FPC – Ken Jack reports that the church has been without power until Friday. Church sprung a few leaks and had a little damage to our chapel steeple, but that is about all. We have many less trees in the little city now, however. I lost a 100 foot pine that fell away from my house instead of toward it.

Eagle Lake, FPC – Ed Triem reports that the church did not have any damage nor did any members have any problems. We were very blessed not to lost power and hosted other family members here who lost power.

Pasadena, Faith – Joe Delgatto reports that the church had no structural damage from Ike. However, a leak in the sanctuary ceiling caused water to come the floor. As of today (September 21St) there is still no power. Services were canceled for September 14 and 21.

Houston, Heights – Mark Downs reports that our physical damage in minimal and even more important, all our members are safe, just a little uncomfortable. More powerful than the hurricane winds was the blowing of the Spirit. The church worshiped this morning "unplugged", including no air conditioning. Last week we were able to distribute ice, water, and food to the Heights community. We have also had teams go out and help clean up for those who needed help. With no phone or internet, we still have kept our Angel Food program going and have yet another record number of orders for the month of September. This week we hope to expand our mercy effort beyond the Heights and help others in our larger city and presbytery.

Cleveland, FPC – Gene Marion reports that the church at Cleveland is recovering from IKE'S visit. Most of our members left town and there was no health threat to any of them. Damage was limited to houses and tree limbs in the yard. However one member had two trees fall on her house another had one fall on his mobile home. The church had a tree come through the south wall of our fellowship hall. We are hoping that our insurance will cover the damage. Most of us were without water and electricity for about a week. The church was closed for one week.

Got Presby-IKE Photos?

If you have some good, high-resolution photos of Hurricane IKE damages to Presbyterian churches or relief efforts by Presbyterians, please email them to the Blog Administrator, Jody Harrington, at the address in the sidebar.

Presbyterians Today asked me to try to get some for them. I'll forward the photos to the editor, Eva Stimson.

Many thanks to those of you with power who can read this and respond.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Updates from Mike Cole

September 20 Update from GP Rev. Mike Cole:

The information continues to trickle in (pun intended) as we begin to grasp the enormity of the recovery that lies before us. We are putting together a long-term Disaster Recovery Team (those interested may apply to me) which will oversee the recovery effort over the next several years. There are thousands of homes and lives to rebuild in our communities. This will take effort, coordination and a lot of money.

The faith community has proven to be a far better administrator of these kinds of efforts than the government, so that’s where our energies will be spent – impacting lives for Jesus Christ in ways the government can’t. For example, SETIO has rebuilt nearly 2,000 homes in the Golden Triangle in the three years since Rita. The government is just now releasing funds to rebuild 3,400 homes destroyed during Rita. We have the faith, we have the people, we have the know-how, we have the compassion, we have the expertise and we have the commitment to make a dynamic impact for Jesus Christ in our presbytery.

Here are a couple more reports from our congregations:

Houston, St. Andrews – Jeff Smith reports: the people: everyone, as far as we have been able to assess, is healthy and safe, praise God! Many, as you might expect are without power. We are working to coordinate ways of serving these members of our family by providing the essentials: places to do laundry, recharge equipment, sit in the AC, catch up on the news, browse the internet, etc. also, to provide teams to help cut trees, and clear property.

The facility: our electricity was restored Thursday afternoon. We are working on ways to use the facility to reach out and serve our neighbors without power. We held services in the dark last week with over 140 in attendance... And will hold regular schedule this Sunday.

Orange, FPC – Jeannie Alexander reports: In the Lutcher/Sanctuary bldg: Front door blown off and water/debris inside. In the Sanctuary there were 3 roof leaks .. plaster down in those areas and water got inside the sanctuary floor because of those leaks. Consequently, the Fellowship Hall (which is underneath the Sanctuary) got water down into it. The entire ceiling is mildewed. Door are rippled in the wood from water. The newly redone hard wood floors are buckled in many areas. The basement was completely flooded. The CE building had a leak on one end from the roof...just clean up needed inside there. The Gillespie Building faired very well...thank God. :) I think there was a small leak into the kitchen..nothing major..

The Power House did very well also. Nothing there to mention.

On the grounds...several trees down and the usual debris.

God is good and several families worked all day long and got the grounds cleaned up today and we got the Gillespie set up for a service on Sunday. Our new pastor comes tomorrow and we are looking forward to his arrival. We told him this is a special homecoming for him...welcomed by a hurricane.

Note from Blog Administrator: please leave information or questions in the comments or email me at the address on the sidebar so I can include your information or needs on the blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Galveston Churches Report and NCP Church Update

September 19 Update from GP Rev. Mike Cole:

Two PDA volunteers, Paul Reiter and Milton Fulton, and I went onto Galveston Island to inspect our church sites and survey the community needs. Everything you have seen on the news about Galveston is true. The community is devastated. Having seen the damage first-hand, I can’t imagine that there is any home that is not affected by flood water, wind or both. You will read more detailed reports on the church buildings below, but the more important information is the impact of this storm on our members and communities.

Clay Faulk, pastor at Providence PC in Nederland, sent an excellent reminder that the church is not the building – the church is the people and our people are hurting from devastating losses. Our initial reports have been about our buildings, I suppose, because our church buildings are our rallying point for worship and nurture. Now I’d like to begin to gather information on the community impact of this hurricane. How have our church members and the members of our communities been affected? Please send in your assessments for us to share as we develop our response to the human need. I realize this won’t be scientific, but it will provide more information than we have presently.

Today, members of the presbytery Disaster Recovery Team, PDA volunteers, presbytery staff and other interested persons met to begin to assess the needs and frame a response. We are actively talking about establishing at least two volunteer villages in the presbytery that will host work groups from outside our area. There will also be a need for local work groups to participate in weekend projects. My encouragement continues to be to connect directly church-to-church to help in clean up and restoration.

The Golden Triangle Area (Beaumont/Orange, Bridge City/Port Arthur) already has an organization(SETIO) in place that is prepared to receive work groups immediately. If you have a group ready to work, please call Harland Merriam (409)673-0720. SETIO will have a permanent phone number established for volunteer coordination on Monday afternoon and I will get that number out in my Monday update.

Please urge your congregations to contribute to PDA (www.pcusa.org/pda) to support the long-term recovery efforts within our presbytery. PDA has the background to help us formulate a long-term recovery plan and needs the financial support to fund this recovery effort which will last several years.

Here’s a challenge for your congregation: put together clean-up buckets (contents of each bucket listed on www.pcusa.org/pda/help/goh.htm) to help individuals with the clean-up of their flooded homes. We will send out a drop-off site for the buckets so they can get to those who need them.

Harland Merriam, the pastor at St. Andrews PC in Beaumont, asked a question of the group who met today: “If not us, who?” We have an opportunity to passionately engage our communities. Let’s get busy.

Galveston, Emmanuel – There was at least of five feet of water in the sanctuary. The pews etc. will need to be removed and dried out. This small Hispanic congregation will need significant help in restoring the building.

Galveston, West Isle – It appears that the sanctuary did get some flood water. The kitchen and education building both have silt covering the floors and evidence of water damage. This west-end congregation will need help with restoration.

Galveston, FPC – The flood waters invaded the education building and chapel. It appears that water also impacted the air conditioning units, the fellowship Hall and perhaps even the sanctuary.

Galveston, Westminster – The steeple copper sheathing was torn off, but no damage was sustained by the sanctuary or education building.

Nederland, Providence – Clay Faulk reports that even though the congregation meets in a facility that was not significantly damaged, some of the congregation members have been disastrously affected by flooding and wind. Some congregants live in the Bridge City area, which as devastated by the storm surge. Bridge City has taken a devastating hit. Those that reside in the city were flooded. The height of the water varies from a few inches to more than 8 ft. Estimates are that as many as 10,000 homes in the Bridge City area are flooded, many with mud and muck in their homes.

Houston, Pinecrest – Many members are in need of assistance with their personal homes. Elder Tracy Hooper will coordinate volunteer work assignments: thooper62@aol.com; cell: (832) 372-4778

Houston, First African NCD – Aluu Nnali reports: None of our members suffered any significant loss. I have been in touch with them all and they all seem to be recovering pretty well. Some that had no light, water or communication have had that restored. Also, the building where we hold our services was not touched, except that the building has been without power ever since. Last Sunday we worshiped without power and till date power has not been restored. But this is minimal compared to what some of our brethren are going through. We have been in prayers for all and trust that God will see everyone through this. We are okay and need nothing. Pls do not hesitate to inform us if we can be of any help anyhow.

Houston, Memorial Drive--has no power. All activities at the church are cancelled through Tuesday, September 23. Worship services will be held this Sunday in the Fellowship Hall at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:15.

Houston, Fuente de Esperanza NCD – Mauricio Chacon reports: We at Fuente are fine as well as my home. In the church several trees came down. Not considerable damage to the buildings. We don't have electricity. On Tuesday we gave water and ice to the community and today we visited a trailer park and gave food, water, and other supplies. Please let us know how we can help. We already cleaned our church. On Wednesday we have a prayer meeting and Sunday we will have our worship service.

Houston, St. John’s – Jon Burnham reports: St. John's still has no power but we had very little damage other than a gutter on the sanctuary. I still have no power at home and a pine tree on my house

Houston, Thien An – Viet Ho reports: Thanks God, Thien An Presbyterian church was OK. Not to evacuate. Thien An's members were OK, their houses sustained no serious damages. Almost the fences or some roof covers were damaged. The church building was OK but out of power. We had service last Sunday without power. It made us to remember some kind of the underground meeting worship services in Viet Nam. We hope that we will get electricity back in this weekend.

Houston St. Paul – Bill Folts reports: St. Paul Houston is ok. Minor damage due to several trees falling on the Educational Building. We also had a window in the 'steeple' of the church break from something hitting it. So there is water damage in the sanctuary.

Livingston, Indian PC – Debbie Kleinman reports: We just received power this evening in Livingston! The Reservation is still being worked on. 'Will let you know how things develop this week.We are Blessed to have running water. "God is Good! All the Time!"

Baytown, Faith – Wendy Bailey reports: The church has missing shingles and trees down. They intend to have a simple worship there on Sunday at 10:30 am

Houston, St. Thomas – Larry Spencer reports that the church is one of the few places where electrical power was on during the hurricane as well as after. Have assisted Turning Point ministers in placement of elderly residents. The church sustained minor damage. The congregation has responded extremely well to those in need.

Crockett, FPC – Georganna Bozeman reports that the church fared well. The church worship on Sunday was informal and the time was mostly spent talking and being sure that we could account for all of our members and in prayer for all of our brothers and sisters in the hardest hit areas. Our best thoughts are with all of you.

Nacogdoches, Westminster – Steve Newton reports that the church is just cleaning up a mountain of limbs, but none on the church. We did loose a few shingles. If anyone is interested in other problems, they can pray for the termites eating away at our church kitchen. They have been appropriately threatened and we are calling out the big guns tomorrow to get rid of them.

La Porte, St. James – Mary Currie reports that after the storm on Saturday afternoon and they found a window broken in the choir practice room, water on the sanctuary floor and classrooms and kitchen floor caused by the flat roof leaking. This additionally caused the "dining room" ceiling to begin to fall in, etc. Additionally, the main peaked roof covering the sanctuary had a layer of shingles stripped leaving the original shingles exposed but apparently no leaking occurred. And finally, the storage shed shingles have been stripped off the roof.

Eagle Lake, FPC – Ed Triem reports that the church did not sustain any damage.

Orange, FPC – Jeannie Alexander reports that the church will have ONE SERVICE SUNDAY AT 11:00 in the GILLESPIE BUILDING. No Sunday School. It will be a real service and Mike Umbenhaur will be preaching his very first sermon for the congregation. Please pass the word as everyone's email is not working and send this to anyone that I didn't have an email for. The Sanctuary building is off limits right now due to the damage from the storm.

Bay City, FPC – Anna Strickland reports that Bay City is fine. Most minor damage in way of trees, power on everywhere in County. Please advise how we can help. Prayers and Blessings to all our brothers & sisters who are suffering.

Pearland, Peace - David Wilson reports that they don’t have power yet … and are planning on one worship service at 10:00. The building got some water around the doors, but that’s it. All of the signs for the shopping center came down except for the Peace Presbyterian sign. They feel blessed.

Trinity, FPC – Lots of trees down but no major damage.

Trawick, FPC – Lots of trees down but only minor damage.

Baytown, Faith – Richard Kleiman reports that the church had lots of trees down and lots of shingles blown away but no real structural damage that we can tell at this point. Our Session met yesterday and shared information about our members and then divided the members we had not heard from and started making calls. So far so good -- only property issues and power outages. The church is without power but we will gather on Sunday at 10:30 AM for a service of thankfulness whether or not we have power.

High Island – The Retreat Center – Carrie Walker reports that the center made it through the storm “like a champ.” The Center will be housing several teachers from the High Island Independent School District whose homes were dmaged or destroyed by the hurricane.

Brenham– Trey Hegar reports nothing but tree limbs down. They have electricity.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Presbytery Office Opens Monday

Power has been restored to Presbyterian Center!

However, debris remains in the parking lot, so the office will not officially open until Monday morning.

Mike Cole advises that the internet and server are now working. If you sent an email to a staff member on Sept. 11 or afterwards, please re-send it now.

The PDA folks will continue to office out of Clear Lake Presbyterian Church.

Update on Church Status from Mike Cole

September 17 update, received from GP Rev. Mike Cole:

Just a bit of helpful advice for those of you are are using your cell phones exclusively. Check your minutes used. If you are “overusing” your minutes, call your provider and increase your minutes immediately. You’ll pay more, but not as much as you will for each minute if you go over your allotted minutes.

Below are reports we’ve received as we have contacted or been contacted. The churches are not in any particular order – alphabetizing them is more than I can handle at the present.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is sending three teams to help us assess damages and determine a work plan. One team is already in the Beaumont/Orange/Port Arthur area. A second team arrives on Thursday and a third team arrives on Friday. There will be a meeting of our presbytery’s disaster response team with the PDA folks and leaders from the Southeast Texas Interfaith Organization (SETIO) on Friday afternoon at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church. We may be setting up as many as three work camps in the presbytery. As soon as we have information on that, I will pass it along.

On a personal note, Ellie and I were pleasantly surprised with the return of electricity early this morning (1:40 am). We realize that we are now in the minority of folks who have electricity and feel particularly blessed have this modest return to normalcy.

As you read down this list of churches, if you see a need that you think you can meet, make the contact directly to offer assistance. We don’t feel a particular need to control the flow of assistance, although it would be great to have reports of how churches are helping one another.

Houston, Grace PC – Doug Ferguson reports: Here at Grace we lost one of the steeples (the one over the gym) and have some fairly extensive water damage in parts of the sanctuary and offices (especially mine which was soaked).This morning we are beginning to go door-to-door to our neighbors identifying places where we can help. The stories I'm already receiving of neighbors loving neighbors are just amazing.

Tomball, FPC – Jim Gill reports: I preached my first sermon at FPC Tomball by candlelight. We had 28 brave souls come for service. We lost one tree and the copper on our steeple and the cross on top got peeled back. The power has been restored as of today and we only had one window break due to a tree limb hitting it. It was the outside window that caused a leak in the stained glass window. Ironically it was the window that pictured John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. Naturally that would be the window to spring a leak!

Galveston, Westminster – Barrett Ingram reports that he has heard that the church building is ok. The Westminster congregation will worship at Atascoita on Sunday.

Lufkin, FPC – The church is fine.

Navasota, FPC – Craig Sanders reports: The church survived well with only some slight damage. People in the church came through all right with some property damage. It is getting a bit tense in town with concerns about food and water and power.

Houston, St. Paul – Kevin Boyd reports: Saint Paul, Houston, has problems with trees that have fallen on top of the church. There is some structural damage. In addition, we had water leaks in several places, and a flooded sanctuary. We are still without power. Even so, a core group gathered for prayer and praise on Sunday morning. The school is also closed until power is restored.

West Columbia, Bethel – Jim Gentner reports: Here at Bethel all is well --- most members stayed, and all seem to have suffered minimal damage. The church has lost shingles and siding, along with a tool shed that a tree fell on --- all our windows were untouched. we are without electricity for a week, we are told, but hopefully we will hold worship outside on sunday. we have a crew willing to go anywhere we are needed. thanks for the update.

Bellaire, ChristChurch - Christchurch had flooding in the sanctuary basement and a large tree down at the entrance. They lost some of their siding. They will be worshipping in the Fellowship Hall Sunday since there is not likely to be power in the sanctuary until well into next week. Calls have been made on shut ins. Both Mark Cooper and Ashey Brodhurst had trees down on their roofs at home.

Houston, Central - Central had no damage other than a few small trees down and concerns about lack of ventilation with no electricity.

Houston, Christ - Christ Presbyterian had a little minor water damage.

Houston, Community of the Servant Savior - no damage, but no power

Houston, FPC - part of campus has power and part does not. Tree down in courtyard that is being addressed - nothing major

Atascocita: no answer at the church

Conroe, FPC - John and Mary Singleton report no damage to church; members okay. Power still out; some tree damage to church members' homes.

Houston, Advent - no answer

Houston, First Lao - no answer at church

Houston, Northwoods - buildings okay at church; power restored; services planned for Sunday. Members are okay.

Houston, Oaks: Noelie Day reports no damage to church; big trees down on grounds. Still no power; do have water. Members okay.

Houston, Windwood: church okay; a couple of trees down on property; services scheduled for Sunday; Pat Ryan has tree down on her house.

Kingwood, FPC - Jim Davis reports that church in good shape; some trees down; some members have trees on houses, but overall everyone is okay. Held services last Sunday in the dark and will again this Sunday -- regardless of power status.

Waverly - Clerk reports all is well. He talked with Dan Alexander Saturday night and he is okay, too.

Woodlands Community - 2 large trees came down on church over child-care center; 2 HVAC units damaged. Everyone is okay, though, and some have power.

Houston, Grace Taiwan - large tree down, but no significant damage

Houston, Heights – One report that a tree went through one of their windows.

Houston, Heritage - Lost some small trees. Copper sheathing on old chapel’s steeple was stripped away, creating some damage both to the steeple and some water damage to chapel interior

Houston, John Knox - structure fine but lost several trees

Houston, Juan Marcos - no answer

Houston, Korean Central - only minor damage

Houston, Korean Young Nak - only minor damage

Houston, Memorial Drive - no power expected well into next week. Serving dinner to the community Wed. Night. Will worship Sunday - all other events cancelled

Houston, Pinecrest - had several bad leaks - several older members have large trees in homes. PDA is working with Pinecrest on immediate assistance ot members – also working to get a POD into their area.

Houston, Pines - lots of tree debris has been cleared. Offering ice and internet access and cell phone recharging to community

Houston, St. Andrews - no visible damage, no power

Houston, St. Giles – no answer

Houston, St. John’s - no damage visible from street

Houston, St. Luke - no damage but no power.

Houston, St. Philip - lost some small trees, in good shape

Houston, St. Stephen - some water damage from roof leaks. Roof damage especially over outreach center

Houston, St. Thomas - no damage, fully powered

Houston, Spring Branch - some water in sanctuary from backed up toilet, water in Fellowship Hall and Academy building but it’s been cleaned up

Houston, Thien An – no answer

Houston, University - big window in sanctuary broken out

Houston, Westminster - sign blew down, no other damage

Houston, Woodforest – no answer

Huntsville, FPC – no answer

Sealy, FPC – Tom Wessman reports the church is ok.

Katy, Grand Lakes – Harry Slye reports Grand Lakes building had no damage and did not lose power. They served breakfast yesterday and this morning to neighbors without power. About 100 yesterday and 30 today. Power is coming back on in the area. Grand Lakes is ready to receive 4 families and care for them the next two weeks in our education rooms upstairs.

Thank you, Mike for this report! Thanks also to Associate GP Mary Marcotte who gathered a lot of this information over the phone.

Presbytery Youth Update

Associate General Presbyter Mary Marcotte called with the following information for presbytery youth:

Youth Council will NOT meet this Saturday.

The Youth Rally scheduled Sunday, September 28 has been POSTPONED for a future date.

Blogging the Recovery from Hurricane IKE

Greetings and blessings to all of you in Presbytery of New Covenant who have internet access and are able to read this.

General Presbyter Rev. Mike Cole asked me to transform the PNC GA Newsblog into a Hurricane Ike Recovery blog so that it could become a clearinghouse place for information about churches, congregations and individuals in the area affected by Hurricane Ike. That includes just about everyone in the presbytery.

As I receive information or requests for information, requests and offers of assistance, or words of encouragement and prayer, I will post it here. The blog will be linked to the Presbytery's website and also to my blog, Quotidian Grace. Please email your submissions to the address on the sidebar, and I will post it as promptly as possible.

Yesterday I posted a report from Mike Cole with information about the status of many churches in the presbytery on my blog. Here is the link to that report: Church Status Damage Report.

Now, let us hear from YOU!