Hurricane season officially started June 1 and the 2022 hurricane season is expected to be a busy one!
According to the meteorological team at Colorado State University, its forecast released in April called for an above-average year with 19 named storms this season — five more than what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration considers average, based on data collected from 1991 to 2020. – Orlando Sentinel, 2022
Remember that disasters vary in scope and cause. Taking the steps found below will help you and your congregation stay ready beyond just hurricane season.
WHY WOULD A CONGREGATION PLAN FOR DISASTER?
Congregations proclaim the gospel in many ways in the community in which they live: worship, vision planning, social ministry, youth programs and much more. When a crisis or disaster arises and God’s people are hurting and scared, God gives us the gift to share the hope and promise of new life in the midst of devastation.
According to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Social Statement on Church in Society, “Because the gospel of Jesus Christ liberates us from sin, death and evil, the church as the body of Christ is freed to “love the neighbor” (Matthew 22:36).
The call of God motivates the church to reach into the world, to be full participants in community, and to care for the earth with all its creatures. When something happens in our community, our neighbors will be knocking on our doors whether or not we are prepared to step up to the needs. It also makes sense to be prepared to care for the people, buildings, information, programs, networks and other resources that are important to us and our community.
HOW SHOULD A CONGREGATION PLAN FOR A DISASTER?
The Florida-Bahamas Synod and Lutheran Disaster Response have prepared specific documents that outline all of the above steps in detail. Please visit fbsynod.com/disaster-response for more resources. Also download the disaster plan template and congregational preparedness guide here.
For more tips on hurricane preparedness, visit this link as a helpful resource https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
Also remember that developing a congregational preparedness plan is a process. As with most processes, it is not always linear and neat but grows organically as the community discovers its gifts and calls for preparedness over time. While the recommendation is for each congregation to develop a comprehensive plan for the community that is owned, taught and exercised, this end goal will likely come in stages. Remember these steps:
- Form a preparedness team.
- Identify the assets and vulnerabilities of the congregation.
- Identify community partners and resources.
- Establish decision making process and communication plan.
- Discuss emergency operations and plan for continuity of ministry.
In times of disaster in our communities, people will seek the refuge of the church, because it is a community meeting place, because they may find shelter and food, or because they believe that God is there. People in our communities will likely come knocking on our doors whether or not we are prepared to open them. It is the hope that this guide can help leadership in congregations not only be prepared to open church doors, but be ready and willing to faithfully do so. For further assistance, please contact Stephen Garcia, the Director of Disaster Response for the Florida-Bahamas Synod at firstname.lastname@example.org.