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.

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