As of September 28, $3,255 has been contributed to the EPC’s Hurricane Maria emergency relief fund. However, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said further efforts to assist the three EPC congregations in Puerto Rico are in a “wait and pray” mode.
“The recovery and reconstruction of the infrastructure on Puerto Rico has gone painfully slow since Maria swept through,” Jeremiah said. “Because electrical power and cell phone service has not yet been restored, our text and phone contacts with leadership of Westminster-Bayamon have been infrequent—though we have learned that Anasco and Mayaguez are doing OK. But the loss of infrastructure has made life difficult.”
On Sunday, September 24, Pastor Juan Rivera led the Westminster congregation in worship at a local multi-level parking garage. Ruling Elder Alfredo Aponte said “Prayers were offered, the Word was read and preached and God was given His rightful place—first place and above all.”
Don Mason, retired pastor of GracePoint Church in Plant City, Fla., and a key leader in the effort to bring the Puerto Rican churches into the EPC, said recovery efforts are limited by the extensive damage on the island.
“Until the infrastructure is restored, all we can do is wait and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and their neighbors,” Mason said.
As an example of the challenges facing the recovery effort, many of the relief supplies that have reached the island are sitting in port in San Juan due to a shortage of truck drivers, gasoline, and diesel—as well as a large number of roads that still are blocked by storm debris.
Jeremiah noted that the Office of the General Assembly has received many inquiries about how the EPC can help.
“For now, it falls to the U.S. military, FEMA, and other government agencies to rebuild the island infrastructure before our relief efforts can begin,” he said.
“As soon as we are confident we can successfully get relief support to our churches in Puerto Rico, we will promote the Maria emergency relief fund again, as well as opportunities for our churches to send relief work teams to the island.”