Floodwaters reached over the seats of
pews at Augustana Lutheran Church
in Minot, N.D.
Scott Redding and his son rushed home from Boy Scout camp to help the rest of their family pack up their belongings.
Sirens reverberated throughout Minot, N.D., as residents scrambled to evacuate from what was expected to be the city's worst flooding in decades.
The floods came, destroying homes, ELCA church buildings and businesses. When the Reddings returned home, they discovered that nearly 18 inches of water stood on the main floor of their home.
"Our personal loss was considerable," says Scott, a member of Bread of Life Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Minot, although the family tried to move much of their belongings to the second floor of their home.
Scott and his wife of 16 years started working on their Victorian-style home a year before they were married. They were nearly done when the floods came.
Relying on faith
"If I didn't have my faith, I wouldn't know what would get me up in the morning and strap on my tool belt to make my family a home again," says Scott.
Between 25 and 50 percent of families in four ELCA congregations in Minot and surrounding areas have damaged homes from the floods, says Bishop Mark Narum of the ELCA Western North Dakota Synod.
"We're dealing with more than $3 million worth of damage to four church buildings in Minot and neighboring Burlington," Mark says. "Our financial capacity to rebuild is in question given the loss of homes among our parishioners. There is deep emotion here. People have lost the homes and churches they love."
But there is hope. The ELCA is a church that rolls up our sleeves and gets to work, restoring lives and communities no matter how long the journey.
"Our approach in Minot is to discern a strategy for mission that restores congregations and reconnects communities," says Stephen Bouman, who directs ELCA congregational ministries.
In 2011, congregational weekly offering is enabling the ELCA to start 60 new congregations and support 163 congregations under development.
Stephen adds that merging disaster response work with congregational renewal and mission planning is a new approach, one that will not only be about "healing a metropolis" but building "a path for the future of each ministry."
"Our hope is that this plan would draw our congregations into deeper conversations about what God is up to in our midst," says Mark. "In the midst of pain and loss, there is real excitement in doing ministry in a new way."
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