Archive for May, 2013

RELIEF KIT CHALLENGE

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Pastor Kelly Inman is issuing a challenge to churches to bring as many relief kits as possible to annual conference.  St. Luke’s, Midland has already committed to bringing 3,000 water bottles, 300 health kits, and 30 flood buckets. Everything will be donated to UMCOR to respond to the recent tornadoes. Will your church step up to the challenge and care for those in the midst of disaster? You can find items for the kits at www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies

The Mission in Motion trailer will be at Annual Conference. You can bring your items on Tuesday evening after dinner from 8 p.m. until 9 p.m.  

2013 ANNUAL CONFERENCE NEWS

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

June 4 – 6, 2013 at Polk Street UMC, Amarillo

 

Next Friday, May 24, is the deadline for meal reservations. Please either register online or get the check in the mail.

 

We will be doing our own Pictorial Directory for those serving churches. When you pick up your Worship Booklet at registration, you will find the place and times in the agenda.

 

The Mission in Motion trailer will be at Annual Conference. You can bring your items on Tuesday evening after dinner from 8 p.m. until 9 p.m. UMCOR is in need of Relief Kits but you can bring whatever you have.

 

Annual Conference Pre Conference Reports, Registration and Meal Registration is now available by clicking here 

Deadly Spring Storms Sweep Through North Central Texas

Monday, May 20th, 2013

5/16/2013

Update – 5:15 a.m., Friday, May 17 

Ken Apple from Waples UMC sent the photo to the right to the CTCSC (via North District Superintendent Dr. Ginger Bassford) with the following message: “I have attached a picture of the weather from last night. This says better than I can how thankful we are that our Lord was watching over us.”
 
Kens sentiment was echoed by many as the tales from those in the storm’s path yesterday, and the images of the storm and the devastation poured across the internet and airwaves on Thursday. (While there are several good synopsis out there, The Dallas Morning News has an excellent running update complete with regularly updated video and other stories related to the storms.
 
One thing that the news outlets are reporting the Rev. Laraine Waughtal wanted to be sure to clear up is that while First UMC Granbury is serving as a place for folks to go and register with CERT for volunteers, this is just a registration site. No volunteers are needed on the ground at this time and officials are still asking for folks to stay out of the area. Laraine will register the Central Texas Conference as a whole with CERT and then coordinate our efforts, so there is no need for individuals to drive to Granbury and potentially be turned away.
 
The CTCSC also received the following from Patrick Turkett of Ovilla UMC yesterday. “Ovilla United Methodist Church has had a team of 15 working in Baldwin, LA all week at the Sager-Brown UMCOR Distribution Depot. We just received word from them that the distribution center and our Missions team have loaded up an UMCOR truck full of cleaning buckets and health kits from distribution and are now driving it from Baldwin, LA to Granbury.” Those supplies should be on site and ready to help today.
 
 
Update from Dr. Ginger Bassford, North District Superintendent – 11:43 a.m., Thursday, May 16
 
Thank you so much for the prayers, calls, e-mails and texts. The North District has been hit pretty hard by the tornados of last evening. I have spoken with the pastor of First UMC Cleburne this morning who reported that the roof of the parsonage is gone, and many homes around it are completely demolished. There is significant damage in and around Cleburne. So far the word from Waples and Granbury proper is that there is damage, but not severe. However, the Acton / Rancho Brazos area was hit very hard.
 
As of about 10 this morning, the search and rescue teams are still in the area accounting for persons. No one is being allowed in the area. Acton UMC’s community center at Rancho Brazos has sustained damage – some of the roof and gables are missing down to the rafters. Those who live in this area were some of the least likely to be insured or have a means of recovery. Please keep them in your prayers as well as the families of those who have lost their lives. We will keep you posted through the CTC website and the North District Facebook page as updates occur.

 

by Vance Morton* – 10:30 a.m., Thursday, May 16

There still isn’t much new to report regarding any specific support needs for those affected by last night’s storms, but we have heard from several folks wanting to know how to donate money to the relief efforts. As in the West Relief efforts, folks are encouraged to donate through their local church and noting “CTC Spring Storm Relief” in the memo line. You may also pay via PayPal (click the Spring Storm Relief Fund graphic to the right) and you may also send  checks directly to the Central Texas Conference Service Center, Attn: CTC Disaster Relief, 464 Bailey Ave., Fort Worth, Texas, 76107. Please make those checks payable to CTC Disaster Relief and put Spring Storm Relief in the memo line if you wish to donate directly to those relief efforts. At this time there is still no call for any specific supplies or donations – though gift cards to building supply outlets or grocery/clothing stores are always welcome in these situations.
 
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is in regular contact with the Central Texas Annual Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Laraine Waughtal and both UMCOR and Laraine have reported in the last few minutes that volunteers are still not yet needed as emergency services and first responders still have much to do to complete their work before damage assessments can begin. Please check back soon for an updates as they are avaialble.

 

by Vance Morton* – 10:25 p.m. Wednesday, May 15

Severe weather swept through the North Texas Wednesday evening. While there are reports of damage across many of the counties in the area, at the time of this posting, it appears that Hood County suffered the most severe damage as a tornado slammed into the area injuring dozens and causing widespread damage. CBS11 News is reporting that several area churches, including Granbury First UMC, are opening their doors as emergency shelters for area residents. 

Kathy Jividen, a spokeswoman for the Hood County, Texas, sheriff’s office said there were “multiple fatalities” in the wake of the storm. Authorities in Granbury reported the hardest hit area was the Rancho Brazos subdivision (southwest of Granbury) and adjoining areas along Lake Granbury, according to NBC5 in Dallas Fort Worth. Several news outlets are reporting severe damage in Hood County, that emergency responders are preparing for possible casualties in the area and that officials were sending school buses and helicopters to affected neighborhoods in and around Granbury to help with evacuations.
 
Of course, at this posting, details are still sparse and most are unconfirmed. Hood County is not the only area in the Central Texas Conference that has been affected; reports of flooding and damage in Cleburne and much of Johnston County are also being reported. At this time, six casualties have been confirmed and that number could climb because as many as 14 people are unaccounted for. At this point, reports of damage are still preliminary and sketchy – and most likely will be until the storms pass and daylight allows officials the opportunity to better survey of the area.
 
“I do know that DeCordova, Texas has been evacuated due to gas leaks and that searches are going on for people,” reported Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Disaster Response Coordinator.  “I know the people of the conference will want to help but I need to remind everyone that only appropriate response at this point of a disaster is to stay out of the way of emergency services and first responders.”
 
Rev. Kyland Dobbins, CTC Mission Experience Coordinator, echoed the call to remain patient and vigilant. “In disasters of any kind, we must wait for the professional emergency responders to contain the situation by securing the residents and other people in the affected area,” Rev. Dobbins said. 
 
The Central Texas Conference Service Center will monitor the situation and learn the extent of the damages via media outlets and other disaster response contacts in the affected area. Once the first responders have completed their work, then assessments will be done (just like we saw in the wake of the explosion tragedy in West, Texas). Once those assessments are completed we will then learn when other volunteers will be allowed in the affected areas to begin our response to this natural disaster. 
 
“ERT members need to be on standby,” said Rev. Waughtal. “There’s little doubt that help will be needed for our trained chainsaw crews, with tarping and debris clean up. But not until they are out of the emergency stage.”
 
Please join us in praying for everyone affected by tonight’s storms. We will keep you updated as quickly as possible on any damage to our Central Texas Conference families, churches and communities as well as when you can help and how.

 

Vance is the director of Communications & IT for the Central Texas Conference UMC.  vance@ctcumc.org

It is Well. It is Well With the Souls of West

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

4/22/2013

by Vance Morton* – April 22, a.d. 2013
 
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”
 
The words of the Horatio G. Spaffords great hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” (No.377 in your United Methodist Hymnal if you’re playing along at home) have been sung countless times by countless worshipers in countless churches over the years. There is little doubt, however, that the words have ever held more meaning to those doing the singing at First United Methodist Church of West Sunday morning.
 
The mood of those filling the pews of the nearly 120-year-old church would best be described as that of a people still in shock or mourning – at least that would be the perspective of someone visiting for the first time. Such a perspective, while understandable and probably even accurate on some levels, was quickly proven to be mistaken. During the course of the morning service and in conversations following, West FUMC proved to be a congregation dealing with the tragedy that has befallen its community with a peace and strength that comes from an unshakeable faith in the goodness and mercy of God.
 
Whether brought forth in the opening statements and sermons, prayer requests, songs or during a special time of sharing, the message of the day was consistent and clear – there is nothing to fear for God has been, is now and forever will be with us.
 
“It is well with my soul.”
 
From the first few lines of his message, Rev. Jimmy Sansom’s (Pastor Jimmy), senior pastor, West FUMC, made it clear that this service was to be a service of thanksgiving, praise and inspiration. “We, as a church and a denomination, have come together tremendously well,” he declared. “It has been inspiring to see people helping people again.”
 
In the midst of all the chaos in those first few hours following the blast, I saw people helping people, over and over and over again,” Rev. Sansom continued. “People from [West FUMC] helping other people! There were no strangers – only God active in us and through us.”
 
Rev. Don Scott, District Superintendent of the Central Texas Conference’s Central District, opened the service with a word of welcome from the entire conference and assured those gathered that the conference and the entire United Methodist Connection is standing with and praying for West. “I just want to let you know that the United Methodist Church stands with you,” said Rev. Scott in his remarks. “My phone and computer have been inundated with calls, texts and tweets from people from all over wanting to know how and when they can help. This is part of the glory of our connection…we are together and we will continue in that.”
 
Rev. Scott also introduced members of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) who were on hand to support and address the damage we cannot see and touch. “We can see the broken windows and we can see the ashes and we can see the lacerations and the bandages, but there is another injury we can’t see. And that is of our human soul and heart,” remarked Rev. Scott. “We will be here for those hurts and pains and to rebuild those houses which are our very being and soul”
 
Following Rev. Scott, it was time for the joys and concerns of the congregation to be brought forth and this is the moment that it became evident to all that this collection of Christian believers was bruised not broken. Instead of the expected prayers of concern for what had been lost, the first prayer was a prayer of joy for all the ways that God has revealed Himself since the explosion. This was followed by prayer of thanksgiving that it happened when it happened because the human losses could have been so much worse during almost any other time. The next comment was a reminder for all to find time amidst all the chaos to travel a few quick moments in any direction from town to witness the springtime glory that is the Texas Wildflower season.
 
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”
 
Tales of heroism, divine assistance and awe were offered by church members during a special time of sharing set aside so that those gathered could talk about their experiences, needs or whatever was on their heart. While many comments were emotional, there was never a sense of betrayal or loss conveyed. It was rather a sense of praise and thanksgiving of all the ways that God has revealed Himself during these trying times. Carol Waddell, a long-time resident of West and member of the West FUMC family, summed up the feelings expressed very well in her closing comments. “This experience has blessed me greatly,” she said. “I hope all folks feel these blessings as that’s what’s going to get us all through this.”
 
Before sending the faithful back out into the community to continue the healing and recovery process, Pastor Jimmy took the opportunity to say what was seemingly on the minds, hearts and lips of everyone in West that day. “Death and destruction will not define us as a church or community!” Pastor Sansom exclaimed. “How we show the love of God to each other and the world is what will define us. This will be around for a little bit, but what will be remembered in the long term are the people who gave their lives and those who came together to help others get out of this tragic state.”
 
It is indeed well with the souls of West FUMC.
 
Please look for a video tomorrow featuring highlights of the comments made during the service.
 
 
*Vance is the director of communications & IT for the Central Texas Conference (and a huge fan of the beauty and power of the Christian spirit). vance@ctcumc.org