Category Archives: Emergency Relief

Emergency fund launched for Hurricane Maria relief


EPNewsHurricaneMariaReliefIn response to Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Puerto Rico, the EPC has launched an emergency relief fund to help with recovery efforts. The EPC’s Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean has three churches in Puerto Rico.

“Here we go again, following hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “But the reality is that the need in Puerto Rico is perhaps greater than we can imagine. The entire island is without electricity, and reports coming out indicate catastrophic damage. Thankfully, we heard from Juan Rivera, our pastor in Bayamón, and he said he is safe but reported ‘great destruction’ in the San Juan area where he lives. The recovery in Puerto Rico is likely to be a long one with many opportunities for ministry and witness.”

Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Maria Relief (508)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Maria Relief,” and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

Donations to the fund will be sent to EPC churches in areas affected by the storm.

Thank you for providing help to those in need.

EPC churches help with Texas, Florida hurricane recovery efforts


HurricaneIrmaBrooksville2

Hurricane Irma caused a large tree to fall on the home of Andy Black, an elder for Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Fla. (photo courtesy of Matthew Everhard)

EPC churches in Texas and Florida continue to both recover and minister in their communities following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Eddie Spencer, pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers, Fla., said Irma brought heavy winds and flooding rains to southwest Florida.

“A number of our folks have been hurt by flooding,” he said. “We will help them.”

Spencer also said the focus of their outreach efforts “will probably be Immokalee,” a largely agricultural community about 35 miles southeast of Fort Myers with a significant migrant worker population—many of whom live in trailer homes damaged or destroyed by the storm. “I am very proud of our church family. We have been very engaged in the community and caring for each other.”

He also noted that as of September 18, the church was without electricity. “We had church yesterday with generators and fans and people seemed delighted that I preached a shorter sermon.”

Matthew Everhard, pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Fla., said the homes of two of their elders were damaged—one severely—but he was not aware of any injuries or major casualties.

“Most else is debris-related,” he said, “but we are contacting all 400 members and our 100 shelter guests.”

HurricaneIrmaBrooksville

Hurricane Irma caused significant damage to the home of Jim Phinney, an elder for Faith EPC in Brooksville, Fla. (photo courtesy of Matthew Everhard)

The church used its Family Life Center as a shelter, where approximately 100 local residents rode out the storm. Everhard said everyone at the shelter “survived happy and well-fed,” but reported several leaks to the church building and damage to the facade.

Ikki Soma, pastor of City of Refuge Church in Houston, reported via email that one of their ruling elders’ homes “looked like a war zone,” following Hurricane Harvey, noting that the all the drywall in their home had been removed from floor to ceiling.

“It’s the most devastated home I’ve seen,” Soma said. “Most people only have three to five feet of drywall removed. Pray for him and his family. His wife lost her mother last Saturday too, and many mementos from her mom were lost in the flooding.”

Michael Herrin, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Gulf South, requested prayer for Michel Yonts, pastor of Edna Presbyterian Church in Edna, Texas. Edna was in the path of Hurricane Harvey, and Herrin said the home Yonts still owns in Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma.

“Please pray for Michel and Pauline as they deal with this double dose of difficulty,” Herrin said.

HurricaneHarveyHouston2

Following Hurricane Harvey, piles of rubble from flooded homes are a common sight in southeast Texas.

Herrin also reported that Daniel Situka, EPC teaching elder and a hospice chaplain in Houston, needs significant repairs to his home. “His house was flooded and his roof needs some repair, but he said it is hard to find a contractor,” Herrin said. “FEMA has inspected the house, and has recommended that some more wet material be removed.”

Herrin also said Situka ‘s car was totaled. “He has a rental car and is back to work, but will have to buy a new car. Daniel has been very impressed with how helpful everyone has been.”

Daniel Nguyen, an EPC evangelist working with the Bellaire Vietnamese Fellowship, expressed gratitude for the EPC’s Hurricane Harvey emergency relief fund.

“Thank you for showing your love of Christ through your prayers and financial support,” he said. “We have several members as well as non-Christian friends in our Vietnamese community who sorely need this kind of help to get back to their normal lives. As we earnestly share the gospel of Jesus Christ with our Vietnamese people, please pray for God to soften their hearts so they would soon receive Him as the Savior and Lord of their life.”

Alan Trafford, pastor of Covenant Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lake Jackson, Texas, reported that flood waters from Hurricane Harvey have receded in southern Brazoria County, south of Houston.

“It hasn’t rained since the storm, thankfully, but the millions of gallons that fell on the Greater Houston area had to pass through the coastal counties to reach the Gulf,” Jackson said via email. “This is what caused our flooding, approximately ten days after the storm hit.”

He said volunteers from Covenant have worked closely with a local ministerial alliance in coordinating volunteer efforts and serving the area in a variety of ways.

“We have had a hand in many tasks, from feeding evacuees at one of the local shelters to collecting diapers for the Pregnancy Help Center, from unloading huge amounts of supplies for the local food pantries, to filling hundreds of sandbags,” he said. “It has been gratifying to see so many groups coming together to help, and we hope to work with groups from other churches in the coming months.”

Jackson noted that the need is “immense,” with more than 120,000 homes in Southeast Texas completely flooded, and thousands more damaged.

“Some of the poorest neighborhoods, in rural or unincorporated areas, have suffered the worst flooding,” he said. “We are sending teams out to rip out carpets and flooring, remove debris, and cut out drywall. About a dozen families in the church had water in their homes. The worst was one of our elders who got four feet of water in his newly remodeled house—his second flood in just over a year.”

He said the church’s new youth facility has been converted into accommodations for work groups. “We trust that the Lord will continue to use us to demonstrate the compassion of Christ.”

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said contributions to the EPC’s emergency relief funds have helped local churches immensely.

“In the wake of Harvey, Irma, and now Maria in Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean, I am so grateful for the generosity of individuals and churches across the EPC who have helped our churches minister to their members and communities. I hope we can continue to bless them in this way.”

As of September 20, the Hurricane Harvey emergency relief fund has received $235,182 while the Hurricane Irma relief fund had received $14,976.

A Hurricane Maria relief fund has been approved by the National Leadership Team and will be announced by September 22. Maria caused significant damage in Puerto Rico—home to three EPC churches in the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean—including loss of power across the entire island.

Emergency fund launched for Hurricane Irma relief


EPNewsHurricaneIrmaReliefIn anticipation of Hurricane Irma’s potentially devastating impact on Florida and the Southeast, as well as in response to the storm’s havoc in the Caribbean, the EPC has launched an emergency relief fund to help with recovery efforts.

“This hurricane is the most powerful and potentially destructive storm to hit the Southeast in recent memory,” EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said. “Even as our friends in Houston are facing a long recovery from Hurricane Harvey, millions of people are in the path of Irma, and it already has caused significant damage in the Caribbean. We are praying that Irma ends up not being nearly as ruinous as we all fear.”

Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Irma Relief (507)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Irma Relief,” and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

Donations to the fund will be sent to EPC churches in areas affected by the storm.

EPC churches in Puerto Rico ‘doing very well’ following Hurricane Irma


IrmaPuertoRico

Waves from Hurricane Irma hit Fajardo, on the eastern tip of Puerto Rico, on September 7. (photo credit REUTERS/Alvin Baez)

Juan Rivera, pastor of Iglesia Presbiteria Westminster in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, reported on September 7 that the EPC’s three churches on the island emerged from Hurricane Irma in good condition.

“Thanks be to God!” he said. “We are doing very well; Westminster, Anasco, and Mayaguez also. Praying for all in Irma’s route and giving thanks for the EPC family.”

The Miami Herald reported that nearly 1 million people in Puerto Rico lost power after the storm skirted the island on September 6, and some areas could be without power for up to four to six months.

A Hurricane Irma Emergency Relief Fund will be launched soon for people to donate funds for recovery and cleanup in areas affected by the storm.

Hurricane Harvey relief fund surpasses $66,000


CornerstoneKatyFlooding

A deacon from Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Katy, Texas, reported that flood waters in the Canyon Gate neighborhood in Katy, Texas, rose an additional four feet after this photo was taken from his living room.

As of September 5, more than $66,000 has been donated to the EPC’s Hurricane Harvey emergency relief fund as the denomination’s churches in southeast Texas continue to minister during the cleanup effort. In many cases, the relief and recovery extends to their own members and families.

Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church (CEPC) in Houston is serving Samaritan’s Purse as the volunteer housing center for central Houston. Richard Harris, pastor of CEPC, said local volunteers can show up to the church at either 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. (for those who can only work half a day) for orientation with Samaritan’s Purse and to go out with their teams to clean out houses. The local Samaritan’s Purse cell number is 713-851-5493, and the church address is 8300 Katy Freeway. Volunteers coming from out of town who can arrange their own accommodations can come to CEPC at either 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m., while volunteers who need a place to stay must arrange lodging through Samaritan’s Purse at www.spvolunteernetwork.org.

For more information on CEPC’s efforts, see www.cepc.org/discover/flood-relief/

Alan Trafford, pastor of Covenant Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lake Jackson, Texas, said the members of the congregation “are in the thick of it” by feeding refugees, filling sandbags, and distributing supplies.

“We are hopeful that the church itself won’t flood,” he said, “but about a dozen families have already had water in their homes.”

Trafford requested prayer for Brazoria County, south of Houston. The Brazos river crested over the Labor Day weekend and is 11 miles wide in the northern part of the county.

“Northern parts of Lake Jackson are under mandatory evacuation orders,” he said, “and most of the surrounding cities are expected to be under water. Thousands of people have been displaced. The level of devastation in Southeast Texas is simply unprecedented.”

Daniel Situka, EPC chaplain in the Houston area, reported that he has not been able to assess his home yet.

“It seems like we lost our cars, but don’t know about the house because we are not allowed to go back,” he said. “We slept in a shelter one night but have now moved to a motel for seven days. We hope we will be approved for FEMA for temporary residence till our home is fixed.”

Evangelist Daniel Nguyen from the Bellaire Vietnamese Fellowship in Houston reported that his home was safe and none of the church members’ homes were flooded, though one family’s rental residence had a roof leak that causing rain to drip through the ceiling.

He added that while some of their people lost income due to not working during the hurricane, “we now trust in Jesus even more and humbly stand firm on His promise ‘for God shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’”

“Please keep praying for the Vietnamese EPC mission group as we earnestly reach out to the Vietnamese people with the gospel of Christ Jesus,” Nguyen added.

The EPC’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund will remain open for people to assist with recovery efforts in southeast Texas. In collaboration with the Presbytery of the Gulf South, donations to the fund will be sent to EPC churches in the greater Houston area affected by the storm. Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Harvey Relief (506)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Harvey Relief,” and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

Gulf South church leaders assess hurricane damage, plan recovery efforts


CityOfRefugeHarveyRelief

Volunteers prepare donations received by the EPC’s City of Refuge Church as the congregation helps meet needs of its neighbors near downtown Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Amidst the devastation in southeast Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey, a number of EPC congregations in the region have been affected. On August 31, the Presbytery of the Gulf South hosted leaders of Houston-area EPC churches via conference call to assess damage from the storm and discuss recovery strategies for their congregations and communities.

Participants included presbytery leaders Kory Duncan, Bob Vincent, and Michael Herrin; EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah; Richard Harris, pastor of Christ EPC in Houston; Ikki Soma, pastor of City of Refuge Church in Houston; Carter Sanger, pastor of Cornerstone EPC in Katy, Texas; Alan Trafford, pastor of Covenant EPC in Lake Jackson, Texas; and Michel Yonts, pastor of Edna EPC in Edna, Texas. Edna is about 90 miles northeast of Rockport and is the closest EPC congregation to where the hurricane made landfall on August 25.

During the conference call, the church leaders reported that all members of their congregations are safe and accounted for, though some families and individuals responded to mandatory evacuation orders and have yet to be reached. However, some church members’ homes have been flooded, and they will need significant help in the days to come. The church properties only sustained minimal damage. The pastors’ homes were not damaged, with the exception of Harris’ which received minor damage.

Christ EPC suffered some electrical problems at their church building, but the facility received no major flood damage. Harris said the church is making plans to help church members and the community.

Soma reported that City of Refuge, located five miles from downtown Houston, has been helping their neighbors, volunteering, and directing donations to flood victims for several days. The only damage to church property was the loss of some ceiling tiles, though he said 20 percent of the congregation suffered damage to their homes.

Cornerstone in Katy had no damage to their church building, but Sanger said that some church members have not yet been able to determine the amount of flood damage to their homes. He also said they plan to offer space to other congregations whose places of worship were damaged.

Covenant EPC in Lake Jackson is downstream from Houston, so Trafford said they are waiting on the waters to rise to see how much of their area will be flooded. They are making preparations to serve as a shelter for local residents if necessary.

Yonts reported that that town of Edna suffered significant wind damage, but the church building did not flood. He said they were under a mandatory evacuation order, so many of the church members are still out of town. He added that the area is only “just now” getting electric power restored.

Herrin, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Gulf South, said that EPC Chaplains Daniel Situka and Aaron Laenger were both flooded out of their homes.

Evangelist Daniel Nguyen—who works among the Vietnamese community in the Houston area—reported that he’s in the same situation as Lake Jackson, waiting to see how high the rivers will rise to know whether his house will flood. He has made contact with his church members and discovered one had their home flood.

Each pastor noted that they are still evaluating the needs in their congregation and community, and will have to identify what will (and will not) be useful in a recovery effort that will last for months.

Jeremiah encouraged people across the country to donate to the EPC’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. In collaboration with the Presbytery of the Gulf South, donations will be sent to EPC churches affected by the storm. Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Harvey Relief (506)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Harvey Relief,” and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

As of September 1, more than $30,000 had been received into the fund.

Emergency fund launched for Hurricane Harvey relief


EPNewsHurricaneHarveyReliefIn response to devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the EPC has launched an emergency relief fund to help with recovery efforts. Harvey hit the Southeast Texas coast on August 26 as a category 4 hurricane, and torrential rains continue to inundate the region.

“I’m sure by now we have all seen pictures of the devastation from the winds and flooding in southeast Texas,” EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said. “The EPC is at its best when we help our member churches and others in times of need like this.”

Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Harvey Relief (506)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Harvey Relief,” and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

In collaboration with the Presbytery of the Gulf South, donations to the fund will be sent to EPC churches in the greater Houston area affected by the storm.

Thank you for providing help to those in need.