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Diocesan Update From Bishop Love

September 11, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday, September 11th, marks the ten year anniversary of one of the most horrendous terrorist attacks ever to take place on U.S. soil – an event that claimed the lives of over 3000 men women and children, shattering whatever false sense of security might have existed, leaving in its place a wave of fear that has spread throughout the country and world. Now ten years later, with many of the wounds of the past still unhealed, much of our nation finds itself once again under attack – this time by Mother Nature.

A few months ago, the South and Midwest was ripped apart by killer tornados. Texas is in the midst of one of (if not) the worst heat waves in its history, with week after week of triple digit temperatures and out of control fires ravaging the countryside, destroying homes and killing untold number of livestock. An earthquake shook the nation’s capital and much of the eastern United States. Hurricane Irene hit the east coast, doing unimaginable damage in upstate New York and Vermont. And then came the rains and the floods waters ripping out roads and bridges, flooding and washing away homes and businesses, destroying crops in the fields waiting to be harvested, killing friends and loved ones. All of this has happened just in a matter of a few weeks or months. In other parts of the world, there have been erupting volcanoes in Iceland, unending drought in Africa, earthquakes and tsunamis in the Pacific just to name a few.

It is easy in the midst of chaos, tragedy and great loss (such as that caused by 9/11 or more recently by the storms and floods) to fall into a state of depression, fear, hopelessness, despair, withdrawal, anger or a whole host of other thoughts and feelings – all of which are very natural, and yet all of which can be quite deadly. That’s not what the Lord wants for us. On that first Easter night, after conquering the power of sin and death, Jesus went to the disciples who were hiding in fear behind locked doors, confused and uncertain about the future. His message to them is His message to us: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you…Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22) Throughout the Gospels, in times of fear, uncertainty and great loss, Jesus repeatedly says, “Do not be afraid!” “Peace be with you!”

As you and I both know, that is easier said, than done, especially when our life seems to be falling apart around us. Unfortunately, more times than not, the more out of control life gets, the more we try to control it. The key is to stop trying to create our own sense of peace by trusting and relying on the things of this world (things that can be destroyed in the storms of life), but rather to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting no longer in ourselves, but in Him – the One in whom “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given…” and the One who promised, “…I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:18, 20) – even in the midst of life’s storms. Jesus didn’t promise to prevent all of life’s trials and storms, but rather to help up get through to the other side.

It is this message of love, peace, hope and reassurance that the Lord is calling us to share with our family, friends and neighbors who have lost so much through the tragic events of 9/11 and the recent storms that have wreaked such havoc in our local area and throughout the country. The Lord is calling us to reach out in love to those around us in this time of great need, in order that we might be a channel of His love and mercy and healing grace. Many of you are already doing so and I give thanks to God for you. Others are wanting to help, but are looking for some direction as to what is needed and where.

Based on the reports that I have received from the clergy and people around the Diocese, the following areas (listed in alphabetical order) seem to have been most severely impacted by the recent storms and are in need of assistance: Ausable Forks (St. James’ flooded parish hall and village); Cobleskill (flooded village); Jay and Upper Jay (flooded village); Keene Valley (flooded village) Margaretville (St. Margaret’s Church basement and village); Middleburgh (flooded village); Schoharie (flooded village – damage has been described as “unbelievably horrible”); Schenectady (St. George’s Church basement and historic Stockade region flooded); Sydney (St. Paul’s – flooded basement in Church in and rectory, village); Unadilla (St. Matthews flooded Church basement and rectory basement and first floor, village); Walton (village); Waterford (Grace Church flooded basement, village). These are the churches and or villages that have been reported to the Diocesan Office. There may be others.

I will be traveling to the Susquehanna Deanery on Monday to meet with the clergy and see firsthand the damage throughout the area. Some areas are still inaccessible due to high water and washed out roads or bridges. We will be discussing ways that we as a Diocese as well as individual parishes and parishioners can be of assistance during this time of great need. The following are some things that can be done to be of assistance to the various churches and communities listed above:

  • First and foremost, keep the flood victims, churches and communities in your daily prayers.
  • If able, volunteer your time to assist with the clean-up effort (removing debris from flooded basements and buildings, etc.).
  • Help pump out basements if you have a pump.
  • Volunteer to help provide meals or donate food to those who have no cooking facilities
  • If you have extra room, consider inviting someone who has lost their home to stay with you until other housing arrangements can be made.
  • Help with fund raisers to assist those in need
  • Help with transportation for those who have lost their vehicles
  • Help with childcare for families who had to evacuate their homes
  • Help with laundry for those who have lost their washers and dryers
  • Help with repairs to damaged homes and businesses
  • Help with filling out paperwork for financial aid and government grants
  • Be creative – follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit
  • Be a friend – Your words and notes of comfort and support are invaluable.

The above suggestions are some of the things you might want to consider in an effort to assist the storm victims. If you have other ideas, please feel free to share them.

The Schoharie Reformed Church is helping to organize some of the relief effort in their area. Sarah Goodrich (518) 470-0014 is the contact person. Other contacts for the Diocesan efforts include:

Fr. Jim Shevlin, St. Paul’s, Sidney (and dean of the Susquehanna Deanery) (607) 624-1470 or by email

Fr. Scott Garno, St. Matthews, Unadilla (607) 244-1363 or by email

Fr. David Ousley, St. James’, Ausable Forks (518) 834-9693 or by email

Mother Kathy Alonge-Coons, Grace Church, Waterford (518) 237-3833 or by email

In addition to the above, Episcopal Relief and Development is authorizing a $20,000 grant to be used to assist families in need. I will be taking the grant applications with me on Monday when I meet with the clergy. Canon Haskell is helping to oversee the ERD grants. He may be reached by email These grants are for individual families, not church facilities.

Private financial donations in support of the diocesan storm relief effort may be made out and mailed to: The Diocese of Albany, 68 S. Swan Street, Albany, NY 12210. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

Finally, a special healing service for the storm victims and affected communities is being planned. The time, date, location (s) and other details will be announced soon, once they have been worked out. Fr. Nigel Mumford is the point of contact for the prayer service. As mentioned earlier, the Lord wants to set us free from the trauma and mixed up thoughts and emotions resulting from the storms of life. May the love, peace and healing grace of Jesus Christ flow mightily upon all who have been hurt and traumatized by the recent storms and flooding as well as those who are still carrying deep wounds from 9/11. Amen.

Your Brother in Christ,

+Bill

P.S. Please keep me and the House of Bishops in your prayers. I will be leaving Tuesday, September 13th to attend the Fall HOB meeting , held this year in Quito, Ecuador. I return on Wednesday the 21 st.

 

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