Early Response Team works in Arkansas; former La. United Methodist ministers through Mercy Chefs

May 05, 2014

An Early Response Team comprised of Louisiana United Methodist volunteers left for Arkansas last Wednesday to help Vilonia United Methodist Church with cleanup in the wake of recent devastating tornados. Team members departed from First UMCs in Clinton and in Denham Springs. The groups met at Grace UMC in Ruston, and then convoyed to the storm-damaged area north of Little Rock. Rev. Bob Deich and Charles Goss served as team leaders for the group.

ERT teams are self-supporting and provide for their own expenses, such as food and transportation. Members always bring items for their personal needs, including safety clothing, gear and bedding. For information about serving on an Early Response Team, contact Rev. Deich at

Also, Dale Smith, a member of Belle Chasse UMC and frequent Louisiana Volunteers in Mission team leader to Mexico, shared a story with us about Mercy Chefs, a feeding ministry currently serving in storm affected areas of Arkansas. Gary LeBlanc-- Smith’s cousin, and an active participant at Carrollton UMC during his years as a youth in New Orleans--is helping to feed survivors, responders and volunteers in Vilonia and Conway, Ark. through his Mercy Chefs ministry. “Gary and his family live in Virginia. After Hurricane Katrina hit, his ministry came down to New Orleans to help out. Wherever there is a disaster, Gary goes,” said Smith.

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey is asking that local United Methodist churches in the Louisiana Annual Conference take a special offering to assist with UMCOR's tornado disaster relief efforts. Checks should be marked with U.S. Domestic Disaster Response, Advance #901670. Gifts can be collected in the offering plates, or checks can be sent directly to the Conference office and made to: Louisiana Annual Conference, 527 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70802. Just remember to mark the memo section of the check with Advance #901670.


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