A Message to Pastors from Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon

May 05, 2014

The torrential rainfall this past week created havoc for our district. The descriptions of the flooding as "biblical" in nature underscored the severity of the event. The images that have been seen around the world point to a level of destruction that will require a long-term recovery process for our area. And as persons have been displaced from their homes, the "people called Methodists" have once again stepped up to help alleviate the present sufferings of those who were victims of this natural disaster.

We are continuing to assess the needs in the district and will be doing so throughout this week. Initial responses included some of our churches being activated as Red Cross shelters in the immediate aftermath. We also distributed flood buckets we received from UMCOR at Gadsden Street UMC on Saturday morning. Several of you have inquired as to whether we will receive another shipment of flood buckets. I will know more this week and if we do have more coming to the area, we will send out an email to the district and use other social media to make the announcement.

We have not made an official request for ERT (Emergency Response Teams) yet. It appears that Gulf Breeze, parts of West Pensacola, the Bristol Park subdivision, and areas in Perdido Key are the hardest hit. Local congregations have been coordinating the sending of work teams in their respective communities. If you do have individuals or groups that are looking to help, please contact the local churches in the affected areas and connect with their leadership in order to help with the recovery.

We will continue to keep you informed via email and other social media as things develop in the days ahead. I am grateful to all who are serving as we "bear one another's burdens" in the spirit of Christ. Like previous storms that have unleashed devastation on our area, this storm has dealt a significant blow. But like the storms before, we will roll up our sleeves and do what it takes to rebuild. We have a resiliency here in the Pensacola District and we face these moments together. Let us continue to be in prayer for all who have been affected, even as we find ways to aid in the recovery.

This week, I will be in the bounds of the district, continuing in conversation with our local church leaders assessing needs in light of the flooding. Additionally, I will be introducing new pastors to their SPR Committees throughout the week. Please email or call should you have need of me. Thank you for your leadership, and as you lead, carrying the burdens of congregants and those in your community during this time of great need, make sure you care for yourself as well, as these events are extremely taxing on our bodies and spirits. Should you need respite, please do not hesitate from seeking some personal time. There are many able and willing to help. Additionally, if you feel you need an outlet to deal with your own feelings, please let me know and we can connect you with resources as you minister to those who will be receiving your care for some time to come.

Blessings and peace,