How Firm a Foundation
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
In June and July, record rainfalls caused devastating flooding that left many people homeless and congregations without church buildings. These have been called thousand-year flood events, which means it is unlikely that any of us would experience such flooding in our lifetimes, yet our area experienced two such events.
As the waters ebbed, first responders were already on site providing for emergency needs—food, clothing, and shelter. Donations of cash and supplies began to pour in from all over the United States. The United Methodist Church was a big presence almost immediately through UMCOR and our West Virginia Conference disaster team. When there is a need, help arrives from many sources.
Of course, the first focus was on the safety and comfort of individuals and families who have suffered loss. But what of the many churches who have lost their space? Who would help them?
Fortunately, over forty years ago, leaders in our Annual Conference cast a vision that would provide sustaining support. Over those forty-plus years, faithful United Methodists have given generously, and the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia, Inc. reached the point where it could respond to needs such as this. In August, the Board of Trustees committed to granting up to $300,000 from our reserves to help churches rebuild from the flooding.
The affected churches that have received funding have seen the grants not only as financial help, but as God’s grace affirming their ministry in affected communities. Their gratitude has been overflowing, as these representative expressions of thanksgiving show:
Thank you for your generous gift in support of (our church’s) flood disaster. There is a lot of work to be done and thru the grace of God, we will accomplish this task. We hope you will pray for us as we continue God's ministry. We appreciate your support. Thank you.
...thank you for working so hard to help us put things back together. We greatly appreciate you...God bless!
It is great to be in a position to offer churches some financial help when the need arises; it is so much more wonderful to be seen as a conduit of God’s grace during times of deep water.