In late August, Hurricane Irene devastated the coastal areas of northeastern North Carolina. Within days of the storm, the North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church issued an urgent call for trained Early Response Team (ERT) volunteers to serve in the affected areas.
On September 9, 2011, a team of three ERT trained members of Asbury UMC in Birmingham deployed to North Carolina. The team consisted of Boyd Martin, Henry Averyt, and Bobby Smith. Under the direction of the North Carolina Conference, they were assigned to work in the small coastal town of Aurora, N.C., which is in the Greenville District of the Conference.
These volunteers worked for a full week cutting downed trees that were blocking roads and driveways, and removing storm debris.
Rev. Leslie Mills, Pastor of Campbell Creek UMC near Aurora sent the following notes from her Sept. 18, 2011, sermon entitled "Loving Kindness":
"As a child, I heard a minister say that he spelled love T-I-M-E, because if you love something, you give it your time. We have seen some of the greatest expressions of loving kindness, by loving with their time, that I have ever seen. They have packed up their loving kindness and driven in from Alabama -- packed it in trucks, trailers, toolkits, chainsaws, crowbars, tarps, and rakes. They have loved kindness into the houses of strangers...They have loved kindness with a listening ear, a comforting embrace, and a donation of back -- even after they have traveled hundreds of miles, worked tirelessly among sneaky ticks, aggressive mosquitoes, a blazing sun, and through cold rain. They have loved kindness because they have loved God with their whole hearts."
The Asbury volunteers returned to Birmingham weary, but inspired and filled with a renewed sense of purpose in being members of an ERT team and disciples of Jesus Christ.