On Sunday, November 18, Pastor Bill Preuss and council member Tom Byrne traveled to Staten Island on a storm relief mission. They delivered $6,500 of the proceeds from the recent Holiday Fair to Pastor Gary Squire of Messiah Lutheran Church in East Staten Island.
Pr. Squire recounted stories of devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy in late October. He described Messiah members as among the lucky ones, since no lives were lost, and only a few basements and first floors had been flooded. A few boats either sank or turned up as lawn ornaments. One family thought it would be safe to remain at home, until they saw an approaching wave and realized it was too late to evacuate. Seeking refuge on the second floor, they watched as the water rushed into the neighborhood and up through their second floor heating vents. Pr. Squire told of people who lost everything, those who remained without power, and those who have a long road ahead to get their lives back to normal.
A congregation member told of delivering mops, gloves, masks and other cleaning supplies, and how they have been feeding and clothing others in need. Messiah’s Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (WELCA) group donated money to help the relief effort, and the congregation held a storm relief fundraiser.
At the 9 a.m. worship service that day, Pr. Squire’s children’s sermon focused on the meaning of the church. The church is not just their building, he said, and it is not just their congregation. The church is bigger than that, and includes all who are in need and all who want to help. It includes Faith Lutheran Church in Middletown, Connecticut.
Pr. Squire then introduced Pr. Bill and Tom, who told the congregation that that the people of Faith have kept the people of Staten Island and all who suffered loss in their prayers as they presented Pr. Squire with the gift of $6,500. The congregation responded with applause, and every parishioner present took time to thank Pr. Bill and Tom, assuring them that the funds will be put to good use.
Back at home, Tom reported to the congregation on the success of the trip, but urged continued support and prayers for the people of Staten Island.