In the weeks following the Gatlinburg fires, I was regularly answering the questions “What can I do?” “How can I help?” The care and concern for neighbors in need was a wonderful thing to see in the light of such grief. We, as a congregation, have found a number of ways to plug into the relief effort. In addition to volunteering some time, we established a fund so that caring, concerned Lutherans from all over the country could send funds to us and have us pass them on to fire affected families. We received over $12,000 from more than 50 individuals, groups and congregations across a dozen states and decided Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministry (SMARM) a local ministry we have a long standing relationship with was the best place for the funds to reach the most people in need. I recently delivered the first check from that fund, $10,237, to Dick Wellons their executive director. Those funds were used to help 32 families with shelter expenses, 44 with rental expenses and 87 with utility expenses. These families were assisted in their great hour of need through the love and generosity of our brothers and sisters in Christ, near and far. We continue to pray for all 884 families who lost their homes. We are honored and blessed to be a part of this loving caring community and look forward to continuing this mercy work as we love and serve our neighbors as volunteers and messengers of kindness.
Yours in Christ,
Saint Paul Lutheran Church