From the stories several participants told, it was clear that the wounds left by hurricanes Irene and Sandy were only beginning to heal years later. As several New England Dioceses gathered with Episcopal Relief and Development at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in North Grafton, Mass., they pondered question like, “How can the church be missional in times of crisis?” And, “How can congregations mitigate their risks?” Those talks, held in early August, are now resulting in actions by the Episcopal Church in Vermont.
For the past two months, a disaster preparedness workgroup has been busy developing a diocesan response, beginning with a written plan. The Episcopal Church in Connecticut provided a working draft, which is currently being adapted for the Diocese of Vermont. In fact, networking with neighboring dioceses is a key ingredient in the plan, and Vermont remains connected to the rest of Province I through GroupMe, a group text service, in addition to establishing its own monthly meeting.
Because every disaster, whether natural or human-made, presents its own unique challenges, Episcopal Relief and Development has expressed the importance of building an inventory of each parish’s assets. This extensive work began last year with the launch of the Episcopal Asset Map, a national database managed locally by each diocese. Various parishes throughout Vermont have submitted information for the database in recent months, but there is yet work to do, our local workgroup reported.
The workgroup plans to provide access to both online and written Asset Map questionnaires at the upcoming Diocesan Convention. The ten minutes it takes to complete could help save lives in a time of crisis.
Members of the disaster preparedness workgroup include: Harry Kendrick, St. Paul’s – White River Junction; Lars Hunter, St. Mary’s in the Mountains – Wilmington; John Hartman, Christ Church – Bethel; Maurice Harris, diocesan ministry support; and the Rev. Canon Lynn Bates, diocesan ministry support.
In the photos
Top: At the North Grafton, Mass. meeting from left to right are Harry Kendrick, Maurice Harris, Lura Steele (Episcopal Relief & Development), Tamara Plummer (Episcopal Relief & Development), Lars Hunter, and John Hartman.
Bottom: Members of the Vermont team discuss challenges and potential solutions with other Province I dioceses at the North Grafton meeting.