Why Ministering During a Disaster is Difficult

The past week the majority of my time has been spent checking on members and making sure that they and their loved ones were safe in the midst of the #SCFlood. Then, there were follow up calls and conversations each time there was news of a new dam that had been breeched or another area of the Midlands community that was impacted by loss of power and loss of water, but after checking on our members on Sunday, I found on Monday that the conversations changed. They were asking me what we were going to do to help.

And this is what I love about Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship. Although some of them were ankle deep in cleaning flood water or hadn’t had a shower in two days, they wanted to know how they could serve the community.

As I made contact with some of our neighbors in need, our offers of help were met with grateful responses for the supplies that were able to pass on from some of our partnering churches like FBC Orangeburg, Fernwood Baptist, and St. Christopher’s. They welcomed and affirmed my role as pastor of a small church in the heart of the Midlands as have the community organizations and our neighbors in need.

But you won’t see our work in the news, nor will I see an invitation to an ecumenical gathering in Columbia or Lexington because I’m a female minister. You also won’t see my Hispanic clergy colleagues or many of my black clergy colleagues. This is the frustrating aspect of ministering during a disaster. Even in the midst of grave need, congregations and ministers still generally work within their own denominations. Of course, the church should work to help support its congregation and its congregation needs, but how much more powerful would it be if we pooled our resources as communities of faith to work toward helping all those who are in need.

There is work enough for all of our congregations to do in the Midlands, especially for the homeless population and those living in poverty and even more so now in the midst of the aftermath of the #SCFlood, but that work won’t be as effective if we don’t look for opportunities to collaborate rather than operating within our own islands of ideas and communities.

If we could cooperate rather than compete, we just might be able to help every single person and family impacted by the flood and every single person in need in our community.