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Ten-person church opens Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteer host site

First Presbyterian Church of Calvert City, Kentucky, dedicates its building to tornado recovery

by Rich Copley | Special to Presbyterian News Service

CALVERT CITY, Kentucky — After tornadoes devastated large swaths of Western Kentucky and the Midwest last December, the 10-person congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Calvert City knew it wanted to help, but wasn’t sure how.

Through discernment with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) National Response Team and the Presbytery of Western Kentucky, the church decided to use its under-utilized building as a host site for volunteers coming to help with long-term recovery from the tornadoes. While national attention has moved on from the pre-Christmas tragedy, thousands of people are still in need of help recovering and rebuilding and will be for the foreseeable future.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Mission Specialist for Volunteer Ministries the Rev. Nell Herring consults with First Presbyterian Calvert City Commissioned Lay Pastor Milton Dickens before the Oct. 23 worship service. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“Here we are, this little church with 10 members — five or six people coming to Sunday — and we got all these empty rooms,” church member Loyd Ford said. “So, we had a session meeting, and we decided that it would be almost criminal not to do something so we could have a host site and have a place where we could put people up so that they could work on these homes.”

PDA works with volunteer host sites to insure they have appropriate accommodations for sleeping, bathing, eating, and meet other requirements, before opening them.

On Sunday, Oct. 23, PDA National Response Team members joined Commissioned Lay Pastor Milton Dickens and the members of First Presbyterian to commission the volunteer host site, which has already been used by one group.

“This is something we haven’t done before with other host sites, but see the need to do in our ministry,” the Rev. Nell Herring, Mission Specialist for Volunteer Ministries, said of the service. “We often put months of effort into setting up and opening up and renovating spaces to become host sites, and we feel that it’s important to take a moment to pray to commission and to mark this occasion as the official opening of this host site.”

Members of First Presbyterian Church in Calvert City lay hands on Renada York, host site manager and coordinator for the PDA volunteer host site at the church during a commissioning service for the site. (Photo by Rich Copley)

The ceremony included a commissioning of the host site coordinator, Renada York.

“You always hear you’re to be the feet and hands of Jesus,” York said after the service. “This is truly being the feet and hands of Jesus because you’re meeting needs, and God has provided what’s necessary to meet those needs. You’re just helping implement the process to get the needs taken care of.”

Click here to learn more about volunteering for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, is supported by gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.


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