A MDS staff member and the MDS Region I director visited the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church near Charlotte, NC, on Wednesday, July 29, to assess the needs for support in rebuilding a burned building on the property.
During the last week of June several predominantly African-American churches were burned in southern states, charring either their main church building or buildings on their property. Three of the nearly half-dozen burnings were determined as set intentionally.
While the fire at Briar Creek Road has been determined as arson, officials have not determined if it was intended as a hate crime.
During their visit, Larry Stoner, MDS Disaster Response Coordinator, and Phil Troyer, MDS Region I director met with two representatives from Samaritan’s Purse, (SP) an international faith-based disaster response and relief agency based in Boone, NC.
The Samaritan’s Purse works with MDS in other disaster response work in the US and Canada and invited MDS to provide volunteers to assist in the cleanup and rebuilding of the church buildings.
“Major damage was done to one of several buildings on their property,” Larry Stoner said. “The goal is to remove all the debris from the floor and begin to remove some of the roof debris.”
There was also a need for asbestos removal from the floor tile and glaze around the windows of the building, Stoner said. He expected a company specializing in asbestos removal would be needed.
Stoner and Troyer met with Todd Taylor, assistant manager of domestic projects for Samaritan’s Purse and Wayne Shoemaker, the SP volunteer manager for the Briar Creek Road Church response.
Stoner and Troyer planned to contact their churches and MDS volunteers to assist in the cleanup and rebuilding as needed. Taylor also asked MDS to explore the situation of another church that was burned in South Carolina.
Mennonite Disaster Service has responded to church burnings in the past but was encouraged by the delegates to the Mennonite Church convention in Kansas City to formulate a response to the recent church burnings in southern states.
Mennonite Disaster Service at Mennonite World Conferece
At the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) in Harrisburg, PA, songs and prayers ring through the buildings inside, and outside you can hear the ringing of hammers. Conference attendees had the opportunity volunteer to help build two homes through MDS’ Partnership Home Program (PHP). The house panels constructed at MWC will be transported to Pilger, NE, and Crisfield, MD, then reassembled into homes for two families who lost their homes to disasters. MWC attendees also toured the work site, learned more about MDS and wrote notes of encouragement that will be delivered to the new homeowners.
MDS and the Gulf Coast Recovery now in paperback
The 2014 book titled “Mennonite Disaster Service and the Gulf Coast Recovery“ by Brenda Phillips, PhD, Associate Dean at Ohio University in Chillicothe, is now available in a paperback edition from Lexington Books. A long-time friend of MDS, Phillips is an award winning and widely published author on disaster recovery and socially vulnerable populations. Phillips is donating all royalties from book sales to MDS.
The book can also be purchased through your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller. Make sure you have a copy available for your church or school library.
“Mennonite Disaster Service brings into clear focus one of the most powerful examples of faith-based volunteer service…” Shirley Laska, University of New Orleans.
“What do faith-based organizations contribute to post-disaster recovery work? And, ultimately, how can communities rebuild to be stronger and better…? This is a fascinating read.” Lori Peek, Colorado State University.
“This important book is a valuable resource not only for students and academics, but…for anyone who wants to understand and appreciate giving and receiving in disaster recovery.” Maureen Fordham, Northumbria University.
MDS featured on NBC Nightly News! MDS was featured on the NBC Nightly News on March 29, 2011. To see the story that features our Diamond, La. project, click on the link below:
MDS on the News