The pictures of the devastation in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian are sobering, saddening and sickening. It’s hard to imagine what it takes for a people and for communities to rebuild after such utter and complete destruction. It was brought home to me when Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was interviewed and explained that the devastation was so complete that even their emergency vehicles and services were swept away. Then on CNN this morning a reporter was quoted as saying, “The cruelty of this storm did not distinguish between rich and poor, but already, the recovery has.” As Matthew 25 Christians, that hurts to hear.
I have a dream. Someday when I hear news like this I will walk into the presbytery office, make a single call and say, “Jesse or Jennie, did you hear the news about the Bahamas? Please get your Presbyterian Disaster Response Team ready to go. We are going to be needed.”
But my dream doesn’t stop there. We know that the average age of our members continues to rise and being able to fly off to remote parts of the world and do back-breaking work is becoming more difficult every year. We know that congregations who, at one time, sponsored mission trips to areas devastated by natural disasters can no longer put a whole team together. We also know that the average age of Oregonians is a full three decades younger than the average age of our members.
Yes, my dream goes further. Someday I want to walk into the presbytery office and take this call, “Rev. Heron, I am not a member of any of your churches, but I hear that you Presbyterians put disaster teams together. Our family wants to help out. What do we need to do to get on one of your teams?” We can organize. They can work! We all can serve.
I admit that this dream is a long ways off, but we have a start. Sheila Cunningham of the John Knox church in Keizer also shares a vision for putting a presbytery-wide disaster response team together. Many of our churches will be hearing from her in the coming weeks and months as she brings our churches together around a common mission.
I share this with you because this is partly how vision is emerging in Cascades presbytery. We are looking for people who have energy, passion, a specific mission, and a call for serving God in particular ways. If you are interested in helping out with the organization of a presbytery-wide Disaster Response Team let me know and I will pass your name along to Sheila.
But more than that. If you have some wild and crazy idea of a mission or ministry that you would like to initiate in the presbytery give me a call. Let’s talk and let’s dream. We have nearly 14,000 members and 96 churches in this presbytery. We may be aging, but we are far from dead!
Let’s unleash the creativity, vision and passion that still exists within this presbytery.
Dorian won’t be the last hurricane we experience. So, let’s get ready for the next one.
By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades
P.S. If you want to support relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas right now you can donate at the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance site using this link: https://pma.pcusa.org/donate/make-a-gift/gift-info/DR000194/