The multiagency warehouse in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri, is currently serving as a sorting center for mountains of spontaneous donations. It is staffed by Adventist members working alongside fellow volunteers from AmeriCorps. Local directors of Adventist Community Services-Disaster Response, Roy Weeden (Missouri) and Jody Dickhaut (Iowa), co-manage the facility as they continue to pastor their respective church districts. They report that additional warehouse facilities may soon be in operation. Cash donations to purchase specifically needed materials and resources would be appreciated. Visit www.communityservices.org and click on the “donate” button.
Adventist disaster relief workers from around the nation have responded to the Joplin tragedy. Among them in Mid-America are James White and Darriel Hoy from Central States Conference.
Among North American Division leaders who have visited Joplin is Vice President Ernest Castillo (pictured with microphone, next to Dan Jackson, NAD president). He accompanied Sandra Juarez and her New York City-based Esperanza TV crew in bringing spiritual encouragement to local Adventists and their neighbors while also providing them opportunity to tell their stories of suffering and survival. Joining them was Pastor Juan Acosta, Hispanic coordinator for the Mid-America Union.
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“I am here to pray with you,” Elder Dan Jackson told Joplin Adventists and tornado disaster responders at an informal evening meeting May 25, which was held at the mostly undamaged church facility. The North American Division (NAD) president (pictured at center) conferred with Mid-America Union vice president for administration Maurice R. Valentine II (left) and Iowa-Missouri Conference president Dean Coridan about addressing the spiritual needs of Adventist members and their neighbors who suffered the devastation of houses, jobs and lives. Although no Adventists died in the most deadly single tornado of America’s officially recorded history, there was loss of life in the nearby neighborhood.
Coridan conferred with local Adventist pastor Dwight Seek about the possibility of opening their church facility to neighborhood congregations whose buildings were destroyed, so fellow Christians in Joplin could continue their own worship service. Pastor Seek is meeting every morning for prayer with other community pastors.
Also present at the Wednesday evening meeting were Gaylord Hanson, leader of Mid-America Union Adventist Community Services-Disaster Response (ACS-DR) and his NAD supervisor Sung Kwon, along with other ACS-DR leaders from as far away as New York, California and Washington State.
Local conference ACS-DR leaders Roy Weeden and Jody Dickhaut could not be present at the Joplin church meeting because they were working with government officials setting up a multiagency warehouse to be run by Adventists. [See yesterday's post below.]
Present at the church prayer meeting were Richard and Shirley Bernings, local members who suffered the total devastation of their house as family members took refuge in a bathtub. They provided the evening’s only moment of humor after Pastor Seek invited anyone who didn’t have a place to stay that night to come to his house. “We don’t have much to offer, but our home is open to you,” the pastor said. Richard immediately quipped, “Our house is open to you too!”
The meeting ended with out-of-town visitors hurrying away before the 9:00 p.m. curfew established by police to quell looting. President Dan Jackson had to drive five hours to St. Louis with NAD communication director George Johnson so they could make it to a Thursday telecast taping at 3ABN studios in Illinois.
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The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been tasked with operating the official multiagency warehouse for tornado relief in Joplin. The Missouri branch of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (MO/FEMA) has entrusted that responsibility to Adventist Community Services-Disaster Response (ACS-DR), reports Gaylord Hanson, Mid-America Union coordinator for that church agency.
Iowa-Missouri Conference ACS-DR leaders, who have established an excellent collaborative relationship with local FEMA officials in previous disasters, are working hard today to organize the warehouse operation in Joplin on behalf of the various charities and government agencies officially involved.
The Iowa-Missouri Conference is collecting information from those who are interested in volunteering at the warehouse. To inquire or to make cash donations, email email@example.com or call 515.223.1197.
[Content below was posted previously (Tue 5/24)]
Community service and disaster relief coordinators from across Mid-America are responding to tornado devastation on behalf of fellow Adventists and their suffering neighbors in Joplin, Missouri. Among them are James White and Dariel Hoy from Central States Conference.
Local conference Adventist Community Services—Disaster Response (ACS-DR) leaders Jody Dickhaut (Iowa) and Roy Weeden (Missouri) are coordinating with Gaylord Hanson of the Mid-America Union.
Dickhaut reports: “We are hard at work here in Joplin. The set up for the multiagency warehouse is in process and should be a reality soon. We will keep you posted with our progress and let you know as soon as we can when this will be open for use. We expect the details of this to be finalized today (Tue). Depending upon logistics for supplies and staffing, hopefully operations could start before the weekend.”
Weeden adds: “It is amazing that our church suffered apparently little structural damage while the houses around it are almost uninhabitable.”
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The tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri on Sunday afternoon passed very close to the Adventist church facility, reports Pastor Dwight Seek. It received roof damage, but the structure itself is sound. All members who live within the disaster zone are accounted for and safe, but the house of one church family was destroyed.
Gaylord Hanson, leader of Adventist Community Services—Disaster Response (ACS-DR) for the Mid-America Union, is working with federal and local agencies to assess and implement relief activities, in cooperation with local conference efforts.
Elder Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division, plans a visit to Joplin this week to visit church members and pray with them.
Thomas Lemon, president of the Mid-America Union, has made the following statement: “Our hearts go out to our church family and indeed the whole community in Joplin as they must confront the tragedy that occurred this past weekend. The fragility and often the helplessness of humanity are most clearly felt in the aftermath of disasters of this kind. It is at such times that the church community must become again the hands and feet of Jesus to carry His healing touch to people whose lives have been so devastated. The prayers and encouragement of the Mid-America Union family join together on their behalf.”
The damaged church structure in Joplin is part of the Iowa-Missouri Conference. Leaders there are grateful for expressions of prayer and offers of help. Financial donations (only) are welcome, and a list of potential volunteers is being compiled. For information on donating cash or time, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Central States Conference has no members or church facility in Joplin, according to the headquarters office.
Updated information on the Joplin disaster and Adventist response efforts will be posted here as available.