A winter storm brought much of central and south Alabama to a halt this week. However, many North Alabama Conference congregations were quickly in motion as the body of Christ reaching out to people in need. From feeding and sheltering those where were stranded, to organizing volunteers who could provide transportation to help reunite families, to caring for preschool and daycare children overnight, United Methodist pastors and laity selflessly served.
Below are a few of the stories pastors and churches shared through social media. If you know of other ways United Methodists have been the hands and feet of Christ during this winter weather emergency please click the “Post a Comment” button below and share that story.
Message from Rev. Bob Alford, District Superintendent
You are all aware of the weather disaster affecting the central part of our state. This includes much of the Central district and our sister districts southward.
I have made several calls to our clergy and learned some incredible stories of sacrifice and caring during this unexpected calamity. The huge number of people stranded, and the inability of people to get to their intended destinations necessitated the need for our churches to respond, and they certainly have!
Many children, parents, staff and "strangers in our midst" found shelter in our district churches. Those with whom I am aware of include St. Marks, Highlands, Gardendale, Bluff Park, and Vestavia. Also, our sister churches in the metro area including Cahaba Heights, Leeds, Canterbury, Moody, and Alabaster were available, open and accommodating. Each of these churches hosted people by providing meals, warmth and shelter with smiles and loving grace. The spirit of cooperation and their service has been nothing short of magnificent! Simply said, our UMC witness has been extended with faithful hospitality in numerous ways towards those in need.
I am inspired by those UMC clergy who chose to stay overnight at their church. I believe the spirit of people helping and assisting others from the church and beyond is the PRIMARY STORY of this unexpected winter event. It is a remarkable story and United Methodist Churches and clergy have certainly done their part by responding beautifully!
I'm am certain many good Samaritan stories will be shared from the kindness of our schools, hospitals, hotels, businesses and from those whom we will never know. This is wonderful! However, it is particularly celebratory to know that you - our UM churches and clergy - have led the way with hospitality and grace. All said, I believe a time of "doxology" in the midst of this temporary cacophony is in order. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"
Well done United Methodist Churches and pastors! I'm honored to serve with you all.
Facebook Post by Peggy Harvey Harrison, Office Coordinator
Pray for the preschool right now and that the power stays on -- looks like we will have a spend the night party! Parent's can't get to the kids. Seriously making plans for the evening.
Facebook Post by Jeremy Auvil, Student Minister
Well, we made it through the night at DUMC. Most are still snoozing. The sun is coming up, we are still warm and safe, and God is still good! If you are in the Stadium Trace area, have a 4x4, and are interested in helping get some families/children back home at some point today let me know!
Facebook Post by Rev. Mary Bendall, Senior Pastor
Stuck near Helena, AL? We are opening the church for a warm meal for anyone that wants it. If you are trying to get somewhere and can't come to Helena United Methodist Church 2035 highway 58 in Helena! If you are a Helena UMC member and can get here safely come join us as we host whomever needs it!
Facebook Post by Rev. Rachel Radeline Gonia, Pastor
… we have 8 kids, 1 parent, 1 director, 4 teachers and 1 pastor here at the church! Ready for a fun night!
Facebook Posts by Rev. Dee Dowdy, Pastor
Its 1am and we have about 25 folks so far in our Family Life Center and more coming in. Leeds FUMC folks, we will need your help in the morning to help as Bridget, Mae, Parker and I will need to get some shut eye.
We ended up ministering to around 50 people last night. A shout out to Parker for staying with me over night. Also to Mae and Jim for helping with food prep, Bridget Dowdy for helping me to help people feel at home, Mayor David Miller who worked very hard to get food to us and transport folks, Anthony who helped some folks get home and all the others who came in this morning to take over so we might get some sleep. Finally we must say thank you to the Leeds Police who sacrificially worked all night to transport people from the "parking lot" at the Leeds Exit to the various aid stations.
Facebook Post by Rev. Wade Griffith, pastor
Update: All motorists on Sicard Hollow between Liberty Park and 280 are rescued or are currently with us.
Facebook Posts by Rev. Lawton Higgs Jr., Pastor
Hey folks if you're stuck in the Green Springs area of Homewood due to today's unexpected snow/ice event, Oakmont UMC (914 Oak Grove Road) is available for overnight refuge. 942-4622 is the church phone number. …
Some of our sheltering guests at Oakmont were brought to us last night by the Homewood Police Department, and they will need to be returned to their abandoned vehicles at some point as road conditions improve. We do not have any 4-wheel drive (or otherwise snow equipped) vehicles here at the church for that purpose. Do we have anyone in the West Homewood area with a 4WD vehicle, who would be available to help with this sometime this afternoon?
Facebook Post by Rev. Steve West, Senior Pastor
I am so proud of the people of Saint Mark ... the weekday preschool staff, church staff, and awesome kitchen volunteers. We have put about 150 stranded people to bed for the night, well fed and warm. Goodnight all and stay safe.
Facebook Post by Rev. Carrie J. Kramer, Senior Pastor
The majority of my yesterday was a gift - taking care of babies at New Beginnings Academy while their parents frantically waited through the traffic & road conditions to get to their children. Thankfully they all made it safely by 6:00.
Facebook Post by Rev. Barbara Hayes Mosley, pastor
St. John's UMC's secretary, Vickie McKinney, has been God's presence at the church. Many people stopped in as they were walking home or to another shelter. She provided hospitality, warmth, restrooms, coffee, encouragement, and peace. Vickie kept the coffee going, had space heaters set up for thawing frozen feet and hands, and prepared the old youth room for possible overnight guests. What a treasure we have! When you see her, please thank her for being the Church.
Reminder: Classes cancelled today. Caf, rec center open for students on campus. Student Development also open! pic.twitter.com/gahQG0blqB— Birmingham-Southern (@FromTheHilltop) January 29, 2014