In May of 2020, the catastrophic failure of two dams in Michigan unleashed an unnaturally large flood on Sanford, Midland, and other communities in the vicinity. While thankful to God that there was no loss of life, the communities faced significant property damage to many homes and businesses. Adding to the problem was the fact that many homes were not on the flood plain, and consequently not insured. As a result, President Trump declared these communities a national disaster area.
The response to this catastrophe was immediate and incredible. Many, many volunteers, locally and nationally, came to the aid of those who were flooded, and did all they could to help with the recovery. As St. John’s, Midland felt this need with many of their own members, some leaders in the church asked the question, “What can we do that will fit in with all of the other efforts?”
The immediate need, of course, was for safety, for food and drinking water, for places to stay, and for the “mucking out” of homes that had been flooded. Living in Michigan, though, they also knew that winter would come, and with it the need for heat. Since most home furnaces are in basements, they anticipated a high demand for furnace replacement—an additional cost that some would not be able to manage, particularly after all the other expenses of the previous months.
As St. John’s launched a program to “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod was quick to step in for support. In partnership with Wild’s Plumbing and Heating, a plan was made to safely evaluate and install winter heating for those in need. Some of the first donors to come forward were LCMS Disaster Relief, which gave $10,000, and the Michigan District, which gave over $5,000. These funds, along with the congregation’s contributions and several other donors, currently total almost $50,000!
With this funding St. John’s has now installed 15 furnaces in Sanford and Midland, with other projects still in process. With an average cost of around $3,000 per project, the money goes pretty quickly.
St. John’s is thankful to all those who have contributed financially to this effort, as well as those organizations within the community that partnered with us to help match people in need with help. We are proud to be a part of a church body that is so quick to respond in times of need.
Perhaps most exciting of all, St. John’s hopes to keep this ministry going even after the need for flood relief has passed, assisting community members with financial need to have a safe and effective means for heating their home. Please check our website if you are interested in learning more.
God is good!
Photos courtesy of St. John’s, Midland