Updates on St Ursula’s

Hugh Thompson met Wednesday in Birmingham with Alabama Diocese staff who are in touch with the churches on St John. Here’s his summary of what we know now:

Initial minutes of the meeting held Oct 4th in Birmingham. I will try to prepare a one page highlights for your  use soon.
I did confirm that there were no known deaths or serious injuries to the parishioners from St. Ursula’s from the two hurricanes or for other Episcopal Parishes, as far as the attendees knew. While  Bishop Gumbs is clearly faced with an overwhelming challenge, he has stated, “don’t send any volunteers down here until we are ready to accommodate them.”
Discussion of clergy relief now was raised as a very important need.
Sanitation debris removal and adequate shelter were also key items discussed.
Hugh is in direct contact with Alecia of St Ursula’s, who is in the states but able to communicate with St Ursula’s. They are already holding Sunday services! There is a chance that they will need hymnals and prayer books, but we will know more about that as information filters through.

October 9 Update from Hugh:
A Good Status of the current support effort was posted on the Dioceses Website by Deacon Judy Quick and the info important to supporting ST Ursula’s on St John is summarized below.
1. Emergency Funds have been sent to the Diocese of the Virgin Islands.
2. Emergency supplies have been shipped or planned to be shipped to all three deaneries to include tarps, mosquito nets/repellent, batteries, non-perishable food, water and water purification systems, gasoline, plywood, as requested by the leadership of the three deaneries.
3. Coordination and Distribution of supplies will be managed by the Bishop and his designated leadership, and they are coordinating with all clergy and congregations.
4. St. Thomas/St. John Deanery: The shipment of goods has been sent through a voluntary network coordinating with FEMA.
5. Regular postal and other delivery systems are not yet operational.
6. The Church Pension Group is addressing the many questions concerning insurance claims and process.

In many churches, prayer books, hymnals, and Lift Every Voice Songbooks were damaged and are unusable. Deacon Judy is coordinating the replenishment of these supplies with Bishop Gumbs (the total numbers have been requested) and with The Episcopal Church as a request was also made to TEC and we need to ensure coordination and not duplication of replenishment.

The Companion Diocese Commission and its diocesan partners met on October 4 to share information and begin developing our long term partnership for hurricane recovery and rebuilding for our Virgin Island friends.

1. Bishop Sloan’s focus is first and foremost about relationships. We have established ours with St Ursula’s and Alecia Wells is the individual that I communicate with.

2. Health concerns are growing as the water is contaminated and mold is beginning to be a major problem in the damaged homes and in the debris removed from the damaged houses. There is also a problem getting the debris removed from the streets and lack of waste disposal sites.

3. Comment was made by Bishop Sloan that this would be a long term effort and that church vestry’s should include VI support as part of their coming years budget. I noted that we were considering having a special collection one Sunday each month for St Ursula’s. Deacon Judy will communicate process for stock donations.

4. Each church was asked that the parishioners who are interested and available to assist with the recover effort fill out the Alabama Episcopal Asset Map for Disasters. Examples of areas of need and interest are disaster rebuilding capabilities, mental health workers, medical workers, and senior care professionals. Bishop Gumbs says that they are not ready at this time to support people coming to the Islands to help with the recovery effort.

5. My initial impression is that Deacon Judy and the key people she is working with are facing a very large challenge. One individual, who said that he knows Rev Wells very well , James Browne, seemed to be the most capable individual that fully understands the complexity of getting repair and rebuilding work planned and executed. Not sure how best to support his role and we can discuss as we get further along.

Any questions, please let me know.

Peace ht

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