"The Montgomery-Opelika District suffered catastrophic damage on Sunday, March 3, 2019, as a result of violent storms and tornadoes. To date, 23 people have died and more than 50 people were injured. The response from the United Methodist Church has been significant and will continue to be a constant presence for days and weeks to come. On both Sunday and Monday, numerous United Methodist pastors provided pastoral support and care to families who lost loved ones. This was emotionally grueling work for them as they also continue their day-to-day ministry. I am so very grateful for their faithful service and ministry.
The sanctuary of Watoola UMC, near Opelika, AL, suffered extensive damage. I am working with Bishop Graves and our disaster response team to provide the best resources we can for this church. They have made arrangements to worship in the fellowship hall, which was damaged but not destroyed. We are currently looking for warehouse space to store the sanctuary pews and furniture. Please contact me if you have heated/cooled space that could be used for long-term storage for Watoola UMC as they begin to rebuild.
Many of our local churches in the area have mobilized supply collections. I am grateful for our connection and am reminded of the importance of our denomination in times like these. At this time, we do not need more supplies. However, we will continue to monitor the needs and communicate them out as needed.
One way our Alabama-West Florida Conference family can immediately help is to collect a special offering this Sunday, March 10, 2019. Checks may be sent to the conference or district office with a notation of, “2019 tornado response.” This money will be used for long-term recovery efforts in Lee and Russell Counties.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) quickly mobilized and sent necessary supplies and a $10,000 grant. Again, we are grateful for their partnership and our connectional system.
Please join me in praying for those who were forever changed by this tragic storm. I am incredibly proud of how our district clergy and churches have responded, and I know that they will continue to lead the recovery and healing efforts. Thank you for the care and concern you have expressed and the many ways you have offered to assist those in need. I will continue to assess and inform you of the needs of the community in the days to come."
Dr. Jeff Wilson
District Superintendent, Montgomery-Opelika District
Alabama-West Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church