During last spring’s power outage that lasted 5-6 days, the question came up: “What can the church do?” Hope Lutheran Church in Warren is mission-minded and has mission teams that go out to other areas, but the questions “Do we think of our own back yard?” and “Have we planned for our own back yard?” came up. The reality is, if there are power outages in your area and your church has heating/cooling, lights, and water—you can do something!
While monitoring Facebook and emails during that particular power outage, it became obvious that some of our members at Hope, Warren were without power, homes were getting colder, and people were getting colder. Many did not want to leave their homes, but needed some respite. Because of the need, a few people got together at Hope and opened the doors. Messages were added to Hope’s Facebook page, a mass email was sent out, and members and their friends were invited to stop in, bring phone chargers and the kids, and warm up. There was a movie to watch and a hot meal. A couple of members made Mostaccioli and a salad, put the coffee pot on, and made dessert. During this power outage, 25-30 people were in the building. It was a start.
Policies for the Future
This opportunity to serve in Hope’s own backyard led to the next question: “Now what?” Hope is working on a policy that will address how to serve members and the community when something similar happens again. This policy will address these questions:
“How do we make the church a place that people think of when something like this happens again?”
“How do we encourage members to invite their neighbors to come with them for a warm meal, a place to cool off or warm up, or even a place for a hot shower if their water heater blows and they have to get ready for work?”
Yes, one could argue about security and insurance. That is certainly part of the discussion, but as the church, how can we effectively open our doors to help out in times of need? Is it much different to have our members invite their freezing neighbor to come in also, than it is to have them invite their neighbors to worship with us at a service? Do we have a better chance of inviting our neighbors to a worship service if we’ve been Christian enough to invite them when they are in need?
This article isn’t meant to have answers, but to show what one church did and hopefully generate the same discussion at your church. The Michigan District has recently initiated Lutheran Early Response Teams (LERT) in the District to tackle these questions and see how we can be most effective working together when weather-related emergencies develop. For more information, please visit michigandistrict.org/missions-ministries/opportunities/disaster-response.
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