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Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd

Charlestown, NH
Report for the Northeast Anglican
February 2012

At the Charlestown Ecumenical Network, a group of local churches serving the Charlestown community, we had a presentation by the Director of Charlestown Emergency Management and the pastor of a Congregational Church that played an important role in coordinating relief efforts during the Alstead flood of 2005. It quickly became apparent that during an emergency there are many resources that are immediately available from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other agencies that specialize in relief efforts. It also became apparent, that during an emergency is not the time to try and figure out how a small parish church might help the community. Advanced planning is essential. It occurred to us who attended the meeting from Good Shepherd, that many of our parishes in the diocese may be in the same situation. We have fairly small congregations and limited fiscal resources, but we still want to help out and do our share during a community emergency.

One of the first things that a parish might do is develop a directory of its members that includes not only the usual name, address, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses, but also the same information for emergency contacts such as parents of children that should be contacted if there is an emergency. During an emergency, a church should try to take care of its own people by contacting them to make sure that they are alright and do not have immediate needs. The list also might serve as the basis for a telephone tree in an emergency. Secondly, we should have a readily available list of names and telephone numbers of emergency management officials and other sources of information at the local and state levels so we can get questions answered. It greatly helps to have already established relationships with local officials on the list. Thirdly, we should have an inventory of the resources that we might be able to provide the community during an emergency. Can we provide temporary housing for disaster victims? Do we have meeting space for counselling or meeting with relief officials? We learned that many victims may want to tell their particular story 20 times after the event. Sympathetic listening is an important part of the healing process that churches can assist with. Do we have storage space for relief supplies? Do we have volunteers who can help distribute relief supplies or serve meals? Can we care for small children while their parents are meeting with officials or filling out paperwork? The idea is to make such decisions in advance and make this information known to the local emergency management office.

Each church in Charlestown has committed to making these decisions over the next six months. All the churches' information will then be integrated into a single response with the contact information of volunteers, people who can open doors and provide access to space, and so on. This will allow us to work together with our brothers and sisters in the community to meet emergency needs that we could not possibly do on our own. We would welcome questions or advice from other parishes who have undertaken similar planning efforts.

Our loyal Bible Study group hit a record attendance in January of 11 participants. We continue to be immersed in the Gospel of Matthew. It is indeed wonderful when we experience on of those "aha" moments in our study together.

We plan to have a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper to precede Lent. Our senior warden will preside in the kitchen. We shall report in the next issue of the Northeast Anglican whether or not the pancakes turned out as tasty as promised. Stay tuned . . . .

We pray that you all have a blessed and spiritually rewarding Lenten season.

Submitted by The Rev. Mr. David W. Moody