Jim Nibbelink, Conference Lay Leader
Desert Southwest’s partnership with First UMC, Belmar, New Jersey is making progress! Although it’s been slow in coming for a variety of reasons, we’ve now taken some clear steps forward and more are planned.
There are many factors to consider as we continue to organize for supporting the Belmar congregation. Most of these are based on practical issues in the Belmar area and in New Jersey as a whole. State and local authorities are working to insure that such extensive damage won’t happen again, so building codes and procedures are being changed, region by region, depending on proximity to the ocean, elevation above sea level and other factors. For example, some damaged homes will not be renovated until their foundations are raised. All of this has resulted in holding off on scheduling work teams, to be certain that any work accomplished is correct and will not have to be repeated when new codes are instituted.
As for Belmar, the church building now has heat, and the cement block foundation is drying out. As soon as things are dry enough, work teams will be invited to proceed. Stay tuned! The parsonage is another matter. Repairs are being delayed by the absence of an agreement regarding insurance. Although the damage to the parsonage was caused by breaking water pipes, the insurance company feels that damage came from flood waters, so the building would not be covered. This could take a while to sort out. Again, stay tuned!
Progress is being made, however! This week, through the generosity of Desert Southwest members, a new multi-function printer/scanner has been sent to the pastors. Now they’ll be able to return to printing their own bulletins, newsletters and a myriad of other items that have been on hold for several months. In a thank you note, Pastor Gene Chamberlin said, “Wow! When the congregation receives their Sunday bulletins, it will be so awesome to tell them that they were printed on the printer sent to us by our brothers and sisters of the Desert Southwest.”
We’re also making an impact on a more personal level. Two young women of Desert Southwest have been building a relationship with Olivia, the Chamberlin’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Becca Brazell and Ashley Rynearson have been texting back and forth with Olivia at a rapid pace. Sharing God’s love and our concerns long distance are helping to restore a bit of normalcy to a very difficult situation. We’re working to establish similar relationships with other members of the pastoral family, and as soon as possible, we’ll expand to include members of the Belmar congregation.
The people of Belmar are praying for us as we plan and organize our relief efforts. Please continue to pray for them as this disaster continues to make life difficult for so many. Thank you!