Several pastors, independently and in conversation with the Rockford Minister’s Fellowship, Bridge Ministries, Heartland Community Church, and CityFirst Church, have been praying about and planning a strategic response to Hurricane Harvey from the church at Rockford. While the situation is dynamic and our response will adjust according to the need, here is what we have a consensus on in terms how our parishioners and community at large can respond immediately, in the short term, and in an ongoing manner:

                  Immediately:  We want to send supplies.  

Heartland has already teamed up with World Vision to start collecting supplies. We recommend that everyone participate in that effort. Both ministries are trustworthy and World Vision has had boots on the ground since the Harvey hit so they know what is needed. You can drop off supplies at Heartland seven days a week.

Here is the list of supplies that are needed:

Personal Care Items: Diapers Toothbrushes Toothpaste Soap Shampoo Deodorant Feminine Hygiene

School Supplies: Backpacks Markers Crayons Notebook Paper Scissors Gluesticks

                    Short term:  We want to send money.  

Those who would like to give their donations to larger organizations you trust should feel free to do so. Heartland has teamed up with World Vision. CityFirst has teamed up with Convoy for Hope. Some of us might prefer to support some trusted native Houston churches or ministries. We are asking churches in that category to help us in supporting them. We are not asking a specific dollar amount from each church because that is not equitable. We recognize that every church has a different capacity to give. It’s not equal giving but equal sacrifice that matters. Furthermore, every member within a specific church has a different capacity. No one can give everything but everyone can give something. We are asking each church that agrees to partner with us to pledge 100% participation from their membership. Ask each member to either give a financial donation to the church for hurricane relief or to donate items from the list above. Keep track of it so we can encourage one another. Regardless of the size of the church 100% participation is 100% participation.

Our goal is a total gift of $15,000 from us as a group of churches by September 30th. We will send that money to an agreed upon trusted partner on the ground in Houston. The goal is to afford them the flexibility to buy what is needed at that time.

                    Long term:  We want to send help.

Houston and the smaller communities of southeast Texas are still in rescue mode. Recovery is going to take months if not years. The financial need for churches and not for profits, in particular, is going to be ongoing. Many want to leave right now to go help but the reality is that our fellow citizens are going to need a lot of help for a long time. If you are interested in going as part of a relief team we recommend that you go with a group that is already established, experienced, and has the logistical expertise to be helpful instead of a hindrance on an already taxed delivery system. Cityfirst Church in Rockford will provide financial aid and send teams to take part in restoring churches along the Gulf Coast. If you are interested in being a part of a relief team in the future, please email them or visit their website at . As other churches in the area with expertise in these matters form team we will pass on the information.

Finally, on September 17 (Back to Church Sunday) we envision having a #Social4Harvey event to show emotional/spiritual support to those who lives have been devastated and simultaneously to continue to solicit supplies and support for them. Specific details will be shared by this weekend but as it stands now we would meet at Hope Fellowship in downtown Rockford (or a bigger venue if necessary) and host a social media event. Participants who attend would be encouraged to facebook live, Instagram, snapchat, and tweet using specific hashtags to highlight our efforts up to that point, raise more support, and send messages of comfort and compassion to the people of southeast Texas. By focusing on social media, we will be able to help our youth and young adults take a more active role. At the same time, we will be able to multiply our reach exponentially for no cost. Finally, and most importantly, we will be able to show our friends, family, and colleagues in Texas that we have not forgotten about them in real time.

K. Edward Copeland