Diocese responds to catastrophic tornado in Joplin

From Bishop Martin S. Field of the Diocese of Western Missouri:

As I am sure you have heard, at least one, severe tornado smashed through Joplin, MO last evening, Sunday, May 22nd. As of this morning, Monday, May 23rd, news sources report 89 dead and many more injured. Unfortunately, I doubt that is the last count.

I know that many of you are wondering how you might help. Here’s what we know.

I am trying to make personal and direct contact with the clergy of St. Phillip’s, Joplin, but have not been able to connect yet. Fortunately, Fr. Steve Wilson of Carthage has heard from some and reports that all our clergy families in Joplin (Fr. Frank & Debi Sierra, Dn. Jeff & Chalaine Bell, Fr. Roger & Sherrie Stinnett, and Dn. Andy Fritsch) are OK. A preliminary report indicates that Roger & Sherrie Stinnett’s home was damaged, but we do not yet know the extent of the damage nor have we been able to verify this report. Preliminary reports also indicate a couple injuries among our Episcopal brothers and sisters: the daughter of Judy Turner (ECW Chair) was injured, and a child parishioner of our Carthage church, but who lives in Joplin, is hospitalized. I am sorry that I do not know names and condition statuses of these injured. There are no reports of deaths from among our denomination members. May it stay that way.

We know even less about the assistance that will be needed in the near future, though emergency housing will definitely be high on the list of initial needs. More definition of needs will pour forth soon. I speak from experience when I say, “Rest assured, the needs will become evident soon, as soon as disaster response teams and community leaders are able to begin ascertaining damage and needs.” I base this on my own experience of losing a church building in Jackson, TN to a tornado in May 2003 (the entire City of Jackson was also affected of course). As needs are defined, we, the Diocese of West Missouri, will respond with all speed and will muster all available resources. Financial contributions to assist with immediate and long-term needs may be sent to the diocesan office, checks made payable to Diocese of West Missouri, with note, “Joplin Tornado Relief Fund.”

In addition, my office and I have already made contact with Episcopal Relief and Development, and we know an immediate response grant will very quickly be available. Your gifts are coming back to our aid!

Pray in the meantime. Pray for the repose of the souls of those taken in this terrible event. Pray for the recovery of the injured. Pray for the Joplin community, now facing the stress of recovery even as they deal with the traumatic stress of this weather induced catastrophe.

And stand ready to assist. Our charity has been much called upon lately: Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, Alabama earlier this month, etc., our Bricks for Haiti project too. I hope you can respond again. All tragedies are awful and warrant our Christian response of love and aid. This one, though, is even more personal. This time it’s our people.

Thank you in advance for what you are going to do.

+Bishop Marty

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