Dear siblings in Christ,
As we await the arrival and share our anxiety about the impact of Hurricane Florence, I want you to know of the prayers and support we offer through the Office of the Bishop in the Virginia Synod, ELCA.
First, we are lifting all affected in our prayers and invite you to join us. We pray for all in the path of this potentially deadly and destructive storm, especially the poor, weak, aged and others who may find it more difficult to face, endure and recover from a disaster. We pray for the “First Responders” who risk so much for the sake of others. We pray for and support each other, that we may be witnesses of God’s love and mercy through our words and deeds in the days ahead.
Second, we are partnering with our ecumenical and inner-faith siblings in the Commonwealth of Virginia who are ready to respond as needed through coordinated efforts and with Lutheran Disaster Response nationally. We are grateful to Lutheran Family Services of Virginia for coordinating this communication.
Third, we have created congregational partnerships in the East and West of our Synod. Storms like this may affect many of our congregations, not only due to high wind and waves, but also dangerous flooding, power outages and mudslides. We want to help one another wherever possible. Your Rostered and Lay leaders know of these partnership resources to be used, especially, if evacuation is needed.
Finally, if you are aware of damages affecting your congregation or have requests for support from members, please contact your rostered or lay congregation leaders who will communicate and coordinate with your Conference Dean who will remain connected with the Office of the Bishop.
Our ELW Pastoral Care Resource includes this prayer: We pray to you Almighty God, in this time of [potential] natural disaster. You are our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Uphold us with your love, and give us the strength we need. Help us in our confusion and guide our actions. Heal the hurt, console the afflicted. Protect the helpless and deliver any in peril, for the sake of your great mercy in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. Robert F. Humphrey
Bishop, Virginia Synod, ELCA