Announcements and Devotions from Grace Lutheran Church
Hurricane Irma – How to Help:
(Letter sent to the Congregation)
November 14, 2017
Dear friends and family of Grace Lutheran Church and School,
We are thankful to our Lord for His gracious hand of protection and provision as we update you on the status of our campus in the final weeks of this year’s hurricane season. Before listing our own needs, please remember those in other parts of the country and the Caribbean who continue to be in need of our prayers, aid, and Christian support due to dangerous hurricanes, floods, and fires. In these areas, Lutheran World Relief and the Disaster Relief arm of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod steadily assist communities as trusted and beneficial faith-based organizations. (https://www.lcms.org/disaster/hurricane)
On the weekend of September 10, Hurricane Irma blew through Grace Lutheran’s campus leaving large trees on the ground, a large and well-constructed preschool play-ground set crushed under a fallen champion live oak, water damage in several offices and classrooms, lacerations on the edges of our sanctuary roof from whipped fascia pieces, malfunctioning AC units on the top of our roof, and campus information signs demolished. The replacement costs of these damages total approximately $140,000. These costs do not meet our buildings’ hurricane deductibles which total, $236,500, per state of Florida guidelines. Thus, all losses are our responsibility.
We are thankful to the Guenther family for their generosity in repairing our roof and the many church and school volunteers who helped with downed trees and interior and exterior cleanups. Professional services were contracted for the removal of dangerously large oaks and the high ceiling damage in the sanctuary. Our licensure regulations required the need for immediate removal of damaged playground equipment and temporary fencing. Permanent fencing has been ordered as well as new campus informational signs. The only remaining replacement items are the most major and expensive: a playground set that meets all preschool child safety codes and a structure that adequately shades our only “cafeteria.” (outdoor picnic area).
Therefore, we are not only informing you of these needs, we are appealing to you for your assistance in helping to meet them. Having a safe, secure, and welcoming campus for present and enduring ministries is a major part of our Grace for all Generations vision. Any donations marked “Grace Hurricane” will be used toward this great need. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel and may the Lord bless our contributions and efforts in the work of His Kingdom.
Rev. Charles T. Reich
As the people of Grace Lutheran Church, we have been seeking to prepare and respond to Hurricane Irma in a “God-pleasing and neighbor-loving way.” First of all, this means be a good neighbor in your own immediate neighborhood. Look around and ask the Lord to open your eyes to the needs of those in your community, and then assist your neighbors as the Lord leads you.
Our Florida-Georgia District of the LCMS is coordinating relief efforts across the two states. See the District website www.flgadistrict.org for up to date information. Lutheran Early Response Teams (LERT) will be assembled to offer various modes of relief.
Our campus sustained interior water damage in five church offices, two school classrooms and three hallways. There is exterior damage on the fascia on the outside of the sanctuary. Not only were church and school signs destroyed, but one large tree destroyed our substantially-built preschool playground set. Several small trees in the school parking lot were blown over and another large tree fell on our Ave B property.
To contribute to our own campus needs or statewide efforts, donations may be made directly to Grace Lutheran Church. We can also process donations for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Simply memo your desire with your donation.
We encourage you to continue praying for all those affected by these recent hurricanes and for people who are extending the mercy of Jesus through ongoing relief efforts.
Grace Pastoral Staff
Irma Devotion from Pastor Mark Harris:
We orginally shared this devotion on Facebook Live on 9/9/2017 at 1:30PM (EDT).
You can find Grace's Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/GraceLutheranChurchWinterHaven/
Full sermon details, including an outlined manuscript, are availiable in the Sermons section of our website.
Irma Announcement from Pastor Charles Reich:
At the time of this announcement [early Friday evening (9/8)], Polk County authorities are advising that no one be on the roads after 5:00pm Saturday. In light of this advisement, we have cancelled ALL worship services, classes, and events at Grace Lutheran Church for the weekend of 9/9 – 9/10.
If you are remaining in the area, please make the necessary preparations for your home and stay secure, especially with a strong faith grounded in the Lord. My prayer is that each of us respond to this storm in a God-pleasing and neighbor-loving way. The Lord has led me to this prayer after the reworking of my initial plans. I realized I had made some plans that I thought were good without first seeking God’s wisdom with a question like, “God, what do you want me to do? Lord, how shall I follow Your lead in making preparations in a way that will bring You glory?”
I had been thinking initially of the first verse of Psalm 46, “The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” After having to make this change in our worship plans for the weekend, the Lord led me even deeper into the Psalm, especially those verses that speak of how He brings desolations on the earth even while He remains a good God… One in whom we can find refuge and strength. That’s why He says in verse 10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” That is the calm we can find after this storm. “God will help her when morning dawns.” …yet even in the midst of the storm He is “our very present help.” The Lord of hosts is with us and holds us in His hands when the wind blows and the waters foam!
I encourage you to also seek the Lord in prayer and in His word. He always has something to show us. Let Him lead you to bring Him glory through your preparations and response to this storm.
- Charles T. Reich
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.