Wildfire Response and Prayer
Yet, prayer also follows action.
Our diocesan staff, clergy, and lay leaders
are working to provide shelter and pastoral care
to those affected by the fires.
—The Rt. Rev. James Mathes, Bishop of San Diego.
The southern California fires blaze on as the scale of the disaster becomes staggering—more than 500,000 people evacuated and thousands of homes destroyed, tens of thousands more emperiled. The Rev. Canon Howard Smith of San Diego said of the blaze, "This is the worst I've ever seen. It's scary. I've never experienced fire this way, it's a terrible thing." He went on to speak of the response saying, "We are trying to coordinate housing between the people who have housing to offer and those that need housing."
Like other faith communities, Episcopal Churches are opening their doors to those evacuating their homes. Eight Episcopal churches in the Diocese of San Diego are housing evacuees. Information on those churches and how to aid them in their efforts is online at the Diocese of San Diego website.
Episcopal Community Services and the National Association of Episcopal Schools are aiding in the response. The Diocese of San Diego has also been assured the Episcopal Relief and Development is moving to respond quickly to the needs of those effected by the fire, both in the short term and over the longer recovery. ERD has set up an account dedicated to southern California wildfire relief efforts. There is an Episcopal News Service article on the response San Diego diocese shelters evacuees from raging wildfires.
The Diocese of San Diego offers this prayer:
We thank you gracious God for the gift of fire, fire which enables industry, fire which propels our cars, and fire which keeps us free from winter’s chill. But this day, O God, your gift has again turned dangerous and destructive. Humbly we ask your intervention in our county to help save us from the blowing winds and growing fires that threaten our neighbors. Bring a change in weather to this district, that the winds may drop and the ocean’s moisture may weaken the burning flames. Send helpers to our neighbors who suffer shortness of breath with the smoke in the air. Protect those who fight these fires, and heal those who have suffered burns. Sustain those who have lost homes. Help us each in our own way to be good neighbors to those who need our compassion and care. And at the last, heal us within, that fires of jealousy and the winds of intemperance may die down, that at the last we may dwell in peace and find in you our soothing balm. By the grace of our savior we pray this. Amen.
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved,
and though the mountains be toppled
into the depths of the sea;
Though its waters rage and foam,
and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
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