Members of the Texas Annual Conference cabinet recently served on a disaster response team to Louisiana to assist in the wake of devastating floods that hit the state in March and August of 2016.
The Texas Conference is no stranger to flooding, said Rev. Scott Moore, executive director of the Texas Annual Conference Missions Center located in Conroe, Tex.
“We’ve been hit with our own floods in the last few years,” said Rev. Moore, recalling a period of nearly 18 months of non-stop flooding in parts of Texas. “We know what it’s like to be under water . . . what it’s like for churches to be serving” under those conditions.
All forms of ministry are rewarding, said Moore, but disaster response work is especially meaningful. “You see the immediate fruits of your labor . . . a homeowner’s life being transformed.”
The United Methodist pastor was touched by “the scale of it all . . . just the enormity of the number of people that have been affected” by the 2016 flooding event. “Parish after parish was inundated with water.”
During the cabinet’s work day, Rev. Diane McGehee, director of the Center for Missional Excellence for the Texas Annual Conference, said the cabinet was in Louisiana to “help any way we can.”
McGehee sees the work as an opportunity to help “brother and sister churches in the Louisiana Conference,” and a chance to meet people, to honor their dignity and to meet the “need for shelter that is safe.”
Although the cabinet has just finished with the hard work of fall charge conferences and is beginning appointment season, the group felt compelled to come to Louisiana to “set the example for churches” in the Texas Conference and other United Methodist conferences. “We will go back and invite other teams to coordinate . . . and we have raised more than $160,000 for the response,” said McGehee.
Rev. Chuck Huffman, district superintendent for the North District of the Texas Annual Conference, acknowledges that the conference does important mission work throughout the world. “You’re our sister conference (Louisiana Conference). Why not be able to help out our neighbors next door to us?”
All three pastors encourage others to be a part of a disaster response team to Louisiana. “Houses still need mucking out, needs are great. Whether or not we are hearing it on the news, there is so much left to be done,” said McGehee.
They also agreed that organizing the team’s mission was easy with the help of the Louisiana Conference Disaster Response office. “We registered online, and they followed up with us immediately.” (find out more information and register here
It’s heartbreaking to see the devastation, said McGehee, but heartwarming to be able to help others in need. “Everyone can do something. . . even if you only have a day, it’s a blessing to be here and help transform lives.”
Story by Betty Backstrom, Communications Liaison for the Louisiana Conference