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Grace Presbyterian serves in the midst of the storm

Nancy Taylor: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Either directly or through contacts made, Grace Presbyterian Church’s little congregation collected and gave $3,100.11 (to be exact) toward relief efforts following the recent hurricanes. The church used part of those funds to purchase what was needed for 50 “personal care kits,” which a few of the church ladies put together. These went to the Middleburg area southwest of Jacksonville, one of the areas hit hard by Hurricane Irma.

A small group from the church took the packages to the effected area, and group members spent four days cutting trees off roofs, patching roofs, and doing whatever else was needed.

A few months ago, ten of the church members went north to Rome, Ga. where the Presbyterian denomination’s disaster relief warehouse is located. During the group’s three days there, they put together over 100 flood buckets and at least that many personal care kits. Members of the group stayed in local motels at their own expense and used their own vehicles. For that effort, the church raised over $1,000 to help offset expenses as they had to purchase items while there to finish out the buckets and kits.

These supplies went to the Houston area two days after Harvey hit.  Originally, all the funds and efforts had been intended for the East Texas coast; but after Irma hit, church members decided that the needs in Florida meant a change of direction for them, focusing on the needs of our own state.

A fairly new couple recently came to Grace Presbyterian Church. They both had experience in dealing with disaster relief - Glynn Barnes as an experienced disaster relief coordinator, and Lynn Barnes as an experienced disaster worker. Because of their experience, the church’s elders named the gentleman to be their local disaster relief Coordinator. Now, when the local needs are taken care of, he coordinates relief trips and supplies elsewhere as situations necessitate. The church also has another new member, Trey, who “just happens” to own a remediation company which handles mold, mildew, ground contamination, etc.  He works with corporations and even individual homeowners.  He is now a consultant for teams from the denomination, and he teaches groups of “worker bees” going into contaminated homes and neighborhoods how to protect themselves from getting sick.  “He has over 30 years in the business, so he knows his stuff and all of the government regulations,” said Grace Presbyterian’s pastor, Gary Cox.

Right after Irma came by Madison, three of the church men headed out to check on those in the congregation who are the most vulnerable in order to make sure they were safe and to assess any damage done to their homes.  Thankfully, they found everyone well (many with no electricity) and no issues other than limbs and debris on the ground.

Grace Presbyterian Church desires to be used as a staging center for disaster relief teams and even a prepared and well-stocked shelter when potentially life-threatening weather events come this way. Glynn Barnes is the leader of the church’s disaster relief ministry; however, all of the church members feel this is one way they can share God’s love with the community.

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