In what is, to our knowledge, a “first,” a Grace Brethren church is adopting a hurricane-ravaged church in the south for long-term help, assistance, and encouragement.
Bruce Barlow, associate pastor of Winona Lake (IN) Grace Brethren church, announced to the WLGBC congregation in a memo yesterday that the church is partnering with First Baptist Church and its daughter church, Cross Point, in Gulfport, Mississippi.
There is a personal connection. Nicki Reeder, of the WLGBC congregation, has a brother, Brandon Pike, who lives with his family in Gulfport, where Brandon is a deacon at First Baptist Church. His wife, Allison, and their three daughters have temporarily sought shelter with the Reeders in Indiana for as long as necessary until they can return to their home, and they attended services at WLGBC this past Sunday.
Working together with Brandon and one of the other Gulfport pastors, Barlow says the Indiana church is planning two work teams to be sent to Gulfport to help the partner churches there. The first will depart Saturday afternoon, September 24, and will return October 2. Members will work dawn-to-dusk putting tarps on roofs, cutting downed trees and will live in a tent camp with showers provided by the church.
The second team will be in Gulfport October 23-30 and will again help the Gulfport church with cleanup and repair work. Barlow invited anyone who is able to get off work for one of these weeks to participate.
He said there may also be an opportunity for WLGBC to adopt an evacuee family from Shreveport which the First Responder Team has identified. The church could be supplying housing, job assistance, clothing and food, and perhaps a vehicle, if needed, for the family.