News from the Tennessee Valley Religion
SATURDAY, MAY 26, 2007
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Session to help prepare churches for the worst

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com 340-2468

Are you ready?

The question is one that many congregations ask regarding an afterlife.

But the Volunteer Center of Morgan County is asking if churches are ready for the here and now. The center is helping congregations, individuals and families be prepared for disasters.

"Disaster Preparedness for Churches" will be at St. Paul's Lutheran Church's Fellowship Hall, 1700 Carridale St. S.W., June 11 at 6 p.m. Co-sponsors are St. Paul's and Lutheran Disaster Response of Alabama.

The free event's primary focus is to help congregations care for members in times of disaster and to develop a preparedness plans, said Yolanda Dunbar, faith-based program coordinator at the center.

The Rev. Steven Arndt, pastor of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, who ministered in disaster recovery in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, urges churches to plan now.

"In times of crisis, a church's ministry can shine brighter than ever before by being prepared and by partnering in larger networks of faithful ministry unto our neighbors," he said.

Arndt said churches can offer faith, hope and love desperately needed during large-scale disasters and smaller tragedies. They can be ready to help their own members and then be available to work with other churches, community agencies and local governments, he said.

A resource CD will be provided to each congregation that participates. It includes documents from Lutheran Disaster Response, American Red Cross, FEMA, the Alabama EMA, National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters and other groups. The CD also has checklists, forms and other guides to help teams develop preparedness plans. To reserve a seat and a CD, call Dunbar at the center, 355-8628, by June 5.

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