News and Resources from the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Tag Archives: lutheran disaster response

November 22, 2014 LDR Update

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you:” Isaiah 43:5a

The people in western New York continue to dig out from last week’s tremendous amounts of snow with help from people and organizations not only from across New York state but from across the nation and from Canada. In grateful appreciation to the many volunteers who are reaching out to help, driveways are being cleared, sidewalks shoveled to ensure that mothers awaiting delivery of newborn babies are able to be reached by local emergency responders to transport them to hospitals, and food is being delivered to those stranded in homes, where provisions have been depleted. Congregations have mobilized work crews to help with shoveling, to prepare soup, cookies and other food items to nourish emergency responders, and are partnering to help each other. Sunday worship services have been cancelled in some locations and members invited to worship with a neighbor. Pastor Laurie Carson, Holy Cross – Farnham, will hold a conference call prayer service for her members on Sunday morning. What a creative way to share God’s presence!

The Western NY VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) has been mobilized. Pastor John Klatt represents us in this group and is working closely with other ecumenical partners as well as local and state government representatives. All are preparing for the anticipated transition of the snow event to a significant flood event early next week as temperatures warm and rain and melting snow combine. LDR in Upstate NY has been in conversation with Rev. Michael Stadie, LDR Program Director at our Churchwide offices in Chicago.

Many are asking how to help. Please do not travel to the affected areas without first connecting with those coordinating help. If you wish to volunteer please call the volunteer coordination line at 716-677-3812. As we move from snow to rain and possible flooding the needs may change. We will do our best to keep you informed as to the best ways to help.

Merciful Father, we command to your loving keeping all who work to bring rescue and relief especially the firefighter, police, paramedics, medical personnel, and volunteers, all who are helping, Give them courage in danger, skill in difficulty, and compassion in service. Sustain them with bodily strength and calmness of mind that they may perform their work to the well-being of those in need so that lives may be saved and communities restored. Amen.

  1. Pray individually and as a community for those who have been affected and continue to be affected, for all those who are responding including emergency service workers, utility crews, government and non-profit organizations and many, many others.
  2. It is anticipated that flood buckets will be needed. Instructions for assembling “Flood Buckets” are available on the synod website.
  3. If you have congregational teams willing to volunteer, please call the volunteer coordination number or be in touch with Rev. John Klatt or email information to LDR at providing type of assistance you can provide, # of volunteers, possible availability dates, and contact name, phone and email.
  4. Join Bishop Macholz in making a financial donation to Lutheran Disaster Response. If you wish to make a donation specifically to be used in upstate New York please send your donation to, LDR in Upstate NY, c/o Lutheran Homes Foundation, 108 Utica Rd., Clinton, NY 13323 (Checks made payable to “Lutheran Homes Foundation” – please note LDR-Upstate NY in the memo line). Donations support the LDR volunteers working locally in the wake of disasters here in our territory to share information, train and coordinate volunteers and to support recovery efforts.

Buffalo Area Snow Storm

Nov. 20, 2014

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The people in and around the Buffalo area have been inundated with snow this past week as you know and there is more on the way. The growing threat is the weight of snow on house tops and collapsing roofs. Some have begun to collapse already and with more snow on the way the threat intensifies. Many remain trapped in their homes and can’t get out. With more on the way and warmer temps with the threat of rain over the weekend the picture is challenging at best!

I am happy to tell you that Dean Nancy Milleville was in touch with me to indicate that Pastor John Klatt was organizing, on behalf of Lutheran Disaster Response, a snow removal party to help those in need. There are folks who will gather at Holy Trinity and set out to assist and Pr. John Deibler from the GFL is generating a list of folks to make the trip. This last one assumes the Thruway will be open, I believe, so that folks can get there.

All of which is to ask you to keep all of the folks in Buffalo and the southtowns in your thoughts and prayers. If you can help with clean out that’s great. If not, include all in prayer. Or join me in making a donation to Lutheran Disaster Response for times such as these.

For Rescue Workers

Merciful Father, we command to your loving keeping all who work to bring rescue and relief especially the firefighter, police, paramedics, medical personnel, and volunteers, all who are helping, Give them courage in danger, skill in difficulty, and compassion in service. Sustain them with bodily strength and calmness of mind that they may perform their work to the well-being of those in need so that lives may be saved and communities restored. Amen.

Prayer in Times of Trouble

God of wind and water, stillness and storm, your spirit sweeps over the surface of the sea. Give us faith to seek you in times of trouble. Reach out your hand to us when we are sinking so that we may believe and worship you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

In service to Christ,

The Rev. John Stanley Macholz
Bishop of the ELCA Upstate New York Synod

Camp Noah

by Patsy Glista, AIM, Assistant to the Bishop for Operations

Noah and a few animals from his ark showed up in Fort Plain this week to be part of Camp Noah, a day camp for children whose communities have been impacted by disaster. Noah shares a ‘wise saying’ each day with the children. Tuesday’s saying was “When a storm comes, I am not scared. Want to know why? Because I am prepared!” Children begin each day with a large group gathering full of songs, skits and fun. Mornings are spent in groups for discussion, art projects, journaling, recreation and snacks. Following a nutritious lunch, children spend the afternoon hearing stories, playing games, watching puppet shows and doing arts and crafts. Each day ends with more songs, skits and fun in a large group.

Gary Roller and Pr. Zach Labagh

Over 50 elementary age children from Montgomery and Herkimer counties are participating in this week-long program. Screened and trained, caring volunteers provide a safe, fun atmosphere for children to tell their stories, grieve their losses, build resiliency skills and find hope for the future. The Fort Plain Camp Noah volunteer staff came from the Northeast Pennsylvania Synod. Adults from the Fort Plain community and some from across our synod join them. Trinity Lutheran Church, Herkimer, is providing bus transportation for children attending from Herkimer County. Rev. Zach Labagh (St. John’s/St. Mark’s, Canajoharie and Trinity, Stone Arabia) is the local coordinator for Camp Noah.

Proclaiming Hope: Lutheran Disaster Response

Every time Lutherans serve their neighbors in need following a disaster, they are part of Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR). LDR works in partnership with local synods and affiliate social ministry organizations. LutheranCare in Clinton is the affiliate partner in our synod. Lutherans across the Upstate New York Synod have been a part of LDR many times in recent years, most recently following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, which impacted 33 counties. Congregations walked with those impacted by the storms-feeding, sheltering, mucking out and assembling flood buckets. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, our congregations stepped up and assembled more than 115 flood buckets and gave over $14,000 to ELCA Domestic Disaster Relief.

Help is still needed! Long-term recovery and rebuilding continues today in many areas, especially the Schoharie Valley, and is expected to take at least three more years. You and your congregation can help by recruiting volunteers for a work team to travel to impacted areas and/or by making a financial donation. For more information about volunteering, contact LDR in Upstate New York at

Proclaiming Hope: Questions Regarding Mission

missionsupport1-proclaiminghopeQ. What is Mission Support? I have heard this term used, but I am not sure what it means.

A. Mission Support is the portion of your financial offering that your congregation shares with the synod and churchwide ministries-the other two expressions of this church. As members of the ELCA, we do mission together through our financial giving. Together we do God’s work in ways that no individual congregation can do alone, including:

  • Identifying, training and nurturing leaders
  • Developing mission strategies
  • Supporting camps, campus ministries and seminaries
  • Providing resources for developing and transforming congregations
  • Walking with congregations and leaders in transition
  • Working with global, ecumenical, and social ministry partners
  • Responding to disaster, world hunger and social justice issues

missionsupport2-proclaiminghopeQ. How does my congregation benefit from Mission Support?

A. More than one-half of your Mission Support funds the work of the synod. The rest is forwarded to the churchwide offices for support for wider mission. Every congregation benefits by knowing that they are part of this larger mission beyond the local congregation. Direct impact on congregations is evident in the work of the Director for Evangelical Mission, Pastor Judith VanOsdol, disaster response in upstate NY communities as well as mission trips, theological education and training for pastors and other leaders, ministries with youth and young adults through camps, campus ministries, youth gatherings, and programs like Project Connect, the work of the synod staff, deans, and the Conflict and Healing Team, the training of deacons, and outreach grants to congregations and new missions, to name just a few.

missionsupport3-proclaiminghopeQ. Is Mission Support different from my weekly offering?

A. Mission Support is a small percentage of your weekly offering. It’s best described as that part of your gift that is shared with the other two expressions of this church-your synod and churchwide ministries-to fund the work of the broader church. Many synods set a goal of 10 percent or greater from each of their congregations.

The rest of your offering (about 90 percent) remains within your congregation. You help pay for local ministries, outreach, salaries, administrative and building expenses, ensuring your congregation’s vital presence in your community.