ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 28, 2011
ELCA Begins Response to Tornado Damage in Southeastern States
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- As volunteer disaster response coordinators throughout the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) began assessing damage from the April 27 tornados, Lutheran Disaster Response sent an emergency grant of $10,000 to help the ELCA begin its local response to people affected by severe spring weather.
The funds were sent to Lutheran Services in Tennessee, which will be used to assist where needed in the ELCA Southeastern Synod, said the Rev. Kevin A. Massey, director for Lutheran Disaster Response and ELCA Domestic Disaster Response. Lutheran Disaster Response is a collaborative ministry of the ELCA and The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod.
The building for Christ Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Cullman, Ala., was destroyed by a tornado that struck the downtown area April 27.
The roof of the building for Christ Lutheran Church, a historic site in Cullman, was lifted off by the storm and tossed on top of the congregation's administrative building, said the Rev. Sandra M. Niiler, interim pastor. Niiler said trees behind the church were torn up by the storm and buildings across the street from the church were destroyed.
"Some church members have said they have damage to their homes, but as far as we know, everyone is alive," Niiler reported. "They (members) want to know how everyone else is. Everyone's been calling on each other. Even though I'm here (Tuscaloosa), we feel really connected. That's a good feeling, a plus in a small church."
Access to the area near the church is restricted, Niiler said. Worship services this weekend may be held nearby in another church or outside. The Rev. Darrel A. Peterson, assistant to the bishop, ELCA Southeastern Synod, will represent the synod at Christ Lutheran Church's worship May 1.
The Rev. Delmer L. Chilton, assistant to the bishop, ELCA Southeastern Synod, said some small communities in Tennessee, where there are ELCA congregations, suffered significant tornado damage. The building for Resurrection Lutheran Church, Ooltewah, Tenn., was not damaged, but areas near it were affected by the storm. The congregation is providing housing for displaced people and assisting emergency personnel, Chilton said.
Members of Solomon Lutheran Church in Greeneville, Tenn., are reported to be safe, and the building was not damaged, when a tornado touched down nearby. The storm caused considerable property damage and resulted in at least six deaths in Greene County, Chilton said. Some people are believed to be missing, he added.
The deadly storms struck in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi,Tennessee and Virginia. More than 280 people died as a result of the storms, including at least 194 in Alabama.
Gifts to ELCA Domestic Disaster Response will be used entirely to respond to a series of spring storms, including tornados and floods. Gifts may be contributed at http://www.ELCA.org/disaster/storms on the ELCA website. Gifts may also be contributed by calling 800-638-3522, or by mail to ELCA Disaster Response, 39330 Treasury Center, Chicago, IL 60694-9300. Please write "U.S. Severe Storms" on your check's memo line.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with approximately 4.5 million members in more than 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
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