January 17, 2023

From the Rector…

Outreach comes in various forms. Some of it is obvious, like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, etc. Other outreach needs might be a little more subtle—the hidden needs in a society that does not wish to see its own truths and so those who make us uncomfortable are hidden away—out of sight, out of mind. Then there are those unexpected and immediate needs that you aren’t necessarily prepared for and, typically, have not experienced anything like before, so you aren’t even sure what to do or how to meet the need. That was the case last week in the wake of the tornadoes that tore across central Alabama.

As you know, my mother’s home was severely damaged in the storm. Her roof and attic were torn off the house as were two sides of brick and her side porch. The chimney fell into the upstairs guest room and many of the windows were blown out. Her neighborhood, called Old Town, looked like a war zone—trees were down on houses and in the streets. We had to walk a couple of blocks to reach her house. Though she and many of her neighbors suffered significant damage, there were other parts of Selma that were hit just as severely. The tornado touched down on the western part of the city limit and then travelled to the eastern city limit leaving a wake of destruction in its path. It is a miracle that no one was killed.

Friday, we put a call out for anyone who could help to come to Selma on Saturday. So many people responded. Episcopeeps from Ascension, St. John’s, and Holy Comforter showed up. Our Boy Scouts, Troop One, changed their camp out plans for the weekend to go and work in Selma. I cannot tell you how much your response was appreciated. You brought chainsaws, drills, trailers, and willing hands and hearts. The city had not yet organized enough to know where the need was and send people out, so the rector of St. Paul’s, Amy George, helped us to find immediate needs and send folks there. Several of you came to my mother’s home to help her salvage what she could and others helped her neighbors remove trees from their houses and put tarps on roofs as well as board up windows. Others of you headed to Houston Park to help Martha Lockett, a widow and long time St. Paul’s parishioner, who had at least one tree on her house and other trees down in her yard. Not only did they help Martha, they also began to clear trees and debris from streets and yards throughout that neighborhood as well. Others of you cooked jambalaya and sent it to feed those who were effected as well as those who were helping. It was truly a remarkable response to a call for immediate need.

Saturday, we heard that the shelter needed diapers, blankets, and pillows. So, we put out another call that evening and you showed up again! On Sunday, following the late service, we packed two SUVs full of diapers, blankets, and pillows. When we arrived at Selma High School—the distribution site—we couldn’t get our cars unloaded without people asking us if we had a pillow to spare or a blanket or two. We had so much stuff, that the shelter set aside our adult diapers and many of our blankets and pillows for one of the nursing homes that was hit in the storm. 

I cannot begin to thank all of you enough. Your prayers and thoughts, your texts and Facebook messages have buoyed me through a difficult few days. I haven’t allowed myself to dwell on our loss or the sadness that surrounds it as we have so much work to do to get my mother resettled in her “temporary” new home. I know those days will come, but for now I know that I am being lifted in prayer and that has kept me going. For those of you who donated to the shelter, and for Anne Kimzey who helped take an SUV full and then came and worked at my mother’s home, I am energized by your charity and generous spirit. You responded quickly to immediate need and I am grateful, as are so many in Selma. And for those of you who came to Selma—Gil Steindorff, Becky and Don Vaughan, April and Will McKay, Alison and Riley Moody, Brittany and Jenny Wade, Smitty Smith, Troop One and all the Episcopeeps and friends from other churches—your hands and labor were invaluable, but your presence was immeasurable in sharing the Good News that we are never alone especially in our times of darkness. You may not feel like you did a lot or enough, but you did everything. 

Whether or not you could come to Selma, I am grateful for you. Those who came, those who gave, those who cooked, those who prayed, those who reached out—all of you, every single one of you, were bearers of that light that shines in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it. Thank you for loving on Selma and loving on me—Selma loves you, but I love you more!

Light and Life,