Pastor’s Note – June 21, 2018

In Pastor's Note by Schweitzer Church

Happy Thursday,

There are times when opportunities come your way that you know is God tapping you on the shoulder! This is how I felt immediately when learning of the ongoing effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and what the Methodist Church is doing in response.

Here is what’s happening: Vieques, a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico, received a direct hit from the Hurricane. The only hospital serving the 9,000 people on the island was destroyed with no plans to rebuild. People on Vieques currently have little, if any, access to urgent or other health care.

Before the hospital was built on the island, the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico (MCPR) ran a clinic to serve the island’s residents. Following the storm, with no hospital, they plan to reopen the clinic in the town of Esperanza. Pastor Alex Gerena, a young pastor native to Vieques, and Conference staff of the MCPR are leading the recovery as people are joining together to prepare their church building, reopen the medical clinic, and become a resource center. The church is planning to host weekly teams of construction workers and medical personnel, beginning in August.

Here’s where we come in. Pastor Gerena and Lucas Endicott, Mission Strategist of the United Methodist Church in Missouri, recently met with various members of our congregation describing in detail three ways we can support these efforts.

  1. We can Pray! I ask you to pray daily for this relief effort, Pastor Alex Gerena, the Methodist Church, and the community of Vieques.
  2. We can Give! Specifically, it is Schweitzer’s goal to raise $25,000 for their congregation to purchase a good used van by July 29. The van is needed for the church to transport mission teams to do construction work and offer medical assistance. I am particularly excited that our Vacation Bible School kids will be joining adults in helping us reach this goal. Checks may be written to SUMC, memo Puerto Rico. Funds in excess will be used to resource our mission teams.
  3. We can Go! We are forming teams of ten to fourteen persons to go on week-long mission trips, one this fall and one this winter. Phil Grafft is our point person in organizing these trips. Interested persons may contact Phil, Be looking in the Schweitzer News for updates, including projected mission trip dates.

I am planning to visit Puerto Rico, July 30–August 3, for an on-site visit to learn more about this opportunity that God has presented to us. I plan to go with check in hand for their church to purchase a van. In the meantime, pray for the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico and consider how God may be calling you to personally respond.

Thanks God for taps on the shoulder!

Pastor Bob Casady