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Living With Faith While Surrounded by Fire

A Photo Essay From Bishop Megan Rohrer's Visit to Our Savior Lutheran Church in Quincy, CA

 

When I visited Our Savior Lutheran Church in Quincy, CA, the members rejoiced that the wild fire smoke had cleared from the air long enough to go on an evening walk. For months and months, the people of Quincy have been surrounded by fires. This morning (August 31, 2021), they are once again 9 miles from the mandatory evacuation zone.

Surrounded by burnt trees, soot and ash on all sides there is no way in or out of Quincy that doesn't bare the marks of fires past and present.

Once inside the quaint town, nestled in the heart of a valley, life slows and calms. An oasis for those fleeing fire or in the early stages of imagining how they will rebuild their life after everything was lost in the flames, the people of Quincy are caring for both the long-term and newly homeless.

Inside Our Savior Lutheran worshippers gather to pray, sing and commune. The night before a gentle rain cleared the air and brought hope in the midst of draught. But, the fear of lightening and the potential for new fires, made it hard to sleep. The community laments with those who have lost their homes. They wait with those who are evacuated and do not yet know the fate of their property. They wonder if their cell phones will begin squawking an alert to evacuate during the service. Even when the warnings cease, they leave their cars packed, uncertain of the precarious wind. The trauma of the fires is thick and constant in their coming in and their going out.

Despite the uncertainty about what is to come, a shopping cart at the entrance of the church overflows with canned goods and other items to care for those in need in their community. Fear has not slowed their generosity or their desire to support each other.

Carol Roberts, CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California spoke with the congregation about the network of support that Lutherans offer in times like these. She also spoke about the emotional resilience and care we need to help each other with.


I spoke about the wisdom the folk from Paradise asked me to pass along and urged those who need support in these difficult times to connect with Pastor Kendrah. I brought gift cards from the generous donations of individuals and congregations in our Synod to support those affected by the fires. Thank you to all who have donated and offered support to those affected by fires in California and Nevada.

After the service the council met to affirm a new group for women affected by the fires that would begin meeting at the congregation. The council also problem solved to ensure housing for a homeless individual Pastor Kendrah had been providing pastoral care and support for.


Please join me in prayer for those in Quincy and those affected by fire everywhere:


God of our weary years and silent tears,

be with the people of Quincy and all who are affected by fires.


For those who have lost homes, provide immediate shelter, food and water.

Bring real support for the daily needs of those who have lost so much.


For those afraid of losing their homes, provide moments of rest, hope for the future and vehicles that are packed and secure.


For all affected now and in the past

bring as much sleep as possible

bring release from the trauma

bring more help than is needed

bring community, conversation and care

bring Your peace

bring palpable love for the silence


May roads be clear for those who are departing and temporary shelters be abundant.

May all who are fighting fires stay safe throughout their watch.

May those providing care to those affected by these disasters get more self care than expected.


And, may the love of God be in with and swirling around all in need, today and every day.

Amen.


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