Groundbreaking for New Home for Disaster Survivor

By Jack Lipphardt

Three Charleston United Methodist congregations have provided the funding to construct a new home for a survivor family recovering from the storms and flood disaster of June 23, 2016.

Elizabeth Memorial United Methodist Church, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, and Christ Church United Methodist have contributed over $66,000 toward materials and supplies for the house.  Funds from the WV Conference of The United Methodist Church and from United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the UMC’s global relief, recovery, and resettlement arm, will cover the remaining estimated $21,000.  Volunteer labor from Mennonite Disaster Service and their Amish partners will build the home along with volunteers from EMUMC, St Mark’s, and CCUM.

“This began as a conversation over biscuits one morning when EMUMC pastor Rev. Jim McCune asked me what his congregation could do to help a survivor family,” said Rev. Jack Lipphardt, director of WV United Methodist Disaster Recovery.”  Lipphardt quipped, “Build them a house,” not expecting McCune’s reply:  “Okay – what is the cost?”

Lipphardt continued, “The conversation led to EMUMC’s initial commitment of $25,000 which grew to $40,000 and a challenge to me to find other congregations willing to fund the balance.  I went to St. Mark’s and CCUM, and they readily agreed to participate.”

JF Lacaria, executive director of A New Vision of Hope, said, “This is the 179th recovery project that The WV Conference of The UMC has funded along with partners or provided volunteer in mission work teams or both.  It is the first project that has been initiated and principally funded by three local congregations.”

Rev. Anne Pruitt-Barnett, pastor of St. Mark’s, said, “I just arrived at St. Mark’s the beginning of this month and was delighted to see the extent of my parish’s engagement in mission and to learn of this significant partnership with sister congregations.”

McCune said, “We are so excited about this opportunity to support this incredible project!  Our congregation (EMUMC) is thrilled to be in partnership with UMCOR, St. Mark’s, and CCUM and especially our Amish and Mennonite friends.  We can’t wait to participate in this build and to see and bless the finished house.”

“We are likewise excited,” said Rev. Dr. Jay Parkins, lead pastor of CCUM. “My congregation quickly picked up the challenge, and several groups within the church as well as individuals made contributions to our commitment.”

The house will have four bedrooms for the family of nine whose home was destroyed in the storms and flood disaster of June 23, 2016.  According to Lipphardt, the flood re-shaped the river’s edge and caused a slip in the ground where the former house stood.  “As a result,” said Lipphardt, “the family is not eligible for WV RISE since the new home cannot be built on the exact former home site though the new home will be about 15 yards away on the family’s property.”

“Our goal is to complete the home by Christmas,” Lipphardt said.  “If weather cooperates and our volunteers are steady, we may make it by Thanksgiving!”

Still needed will be funds for appliances and furnishing.  Those interested in helping with disaster recovery for this or other survivor needs are encouraged to send contributions payable to WV Conference, The United Methodist Church with “disaster fund 935” marked in the memo line; mail to United Methodist Disaster Recovery, PO Box 2469, Charleston WV 25329 with the envelope marked for Lipphardt’s attention.  100% of donations go directly to recovery expenses.