Excerpt of the Cabinet Report
DSAC, June 2017
by Rev. Dan Morley, North District Superintendent
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, June 6, calls began connecting the Zion UM congregation as news spread that their beloved church was on fire. Many arrived to the scene, seeing flames leaping skyward and their church engulfed in flames. Others, unable to make it out late in the night, got on their knees to pray.
As the sun rose on a new day, so did the smoke from the smoldering embers. The people of Zion UM Church, just entering its 100th year, were realizing that their place of worship was no more. However, the words I heard spoken from those standing in that parking lot, were not about defeat or despair – but words of hope and future and determination. A people not defeated, but challenged to rise to new heights for a new day. We know not how, but we will be triumphant. I could already hear the Zion choir singing.
And then my phone began to ring – calls and texts from across the connection began to come in – what can we do, what do the people of Zion need, we are here for Zion, prayers, prayers, prayers. An early call came from the chair of the DSC Disaster Response Team, Pastor Fred Heggestad. He said, “this is what we can do. . .” and he named it.
Our connection was in action and before the sun set on that very day, a disaster response team was on the scene cleaning up and boarding up to secure the burned shell. Plans were immediately put into place for a follow up team to gather and then hauling refuse metal to recycling. Pastor Fred connected with Polly Turner and the extended Disaster Response network to coordinate cleanup teams through the month of July.
It is a collaboration of partnerships which stands at the ready when tragedies take place and rebuilding and resurrection needs to happen. It is what the UMC is designed for – stepping in when disaster takes place, to clean up and rebuild – both the bricks and mortar and the flesh and blood of lives needing hope.
When Bishop Bob arrived only the day after the fire, he gathered with Rev Johnson and the leadership team and prayed and listened and asked, “how is it with your soul.” The people responded –
- I have faith
- The fire has brought us together as one
- I shed tears and tears and then through the tears, I could see that with God all things are possible
- The Lord is stirring the Spirit within us to live into this day
- the blessings are spreading across the whole community
- the building may be gone, but the people, the church, are still here
- God is still in control
- I am excited about what God will do in us in our next 100 years
Bishop Bob shared the passage of 1st Corinthians 12 – “If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.”
This is what it means to be the church in partnership with one another. And it is not only so when our church burns, but just the same when a neighbor suffers, when a stranger is trapped in oppression, when another has lost hope – we are called to love our neighbor as though he or she were our own self, our own flesh and blood – because they are. This is the partnership we forge. This is what it is to be the church – the church on fire.