For Thanksgiving Week, 2012ABCNJ responded immediately following the storm, assessing damage and needs, providing pastoral support and encouragement, and coordinating relief efforts in concert with our ABC partners. Over 50 churches reported some form of damage, ranging from minor to major. Many of our churches have become mission stations, serving their communities as supply distribution centers, food providers, shelters for the homeless and volunteers, and worship sites for churches that lost their facilities. They are expressing our commitment to following Christ in practical and helpful ways. As of 11/16/2012, ABCNJ has received $70,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing Assistance and an additional $4,385 in direct gifts from ABC of the Northwest (designated for Pastors’ needs), churches and individuals. We have distributed $54,250 in aid so far (more requests come in daily). We have helped 31 ABCNJ churches (and through them, church families and community members) and our Baptist Camp. Specifically, $32,311 has been designated for assisting church members and communities (60%), $15,687 for facility repairs and damage (29%), $4,350 for Pastor relief and assistance (8%), and $1,902 for hosting volunteer groups and open houses for pastors from around the state (3%). Going forward, we anticipate that the bulk of our OGHS need will be focused on ministering to church families and community outreach efforts our churches are engaged in. There is much more to be done! ABCNJ has partnered with a number of ABC regions, and their help is much appreciated. A team from the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware, led by Executive Minister Frank Frischkorn, did a great job helping to repair damage at Baptist Camp Lebanon. This morning, the DC Emergency Response Team, under the direction of Executive Minister Ricky Creech, completed a week of intense tree cutting and debris clearing work. They completed projects at 42 homes and churches, logging 100 volunteer days, 803 volunteer hours and $20,075 of in-kind labor! An ABMen team from the Great Rivers Region is arriving today, and following them, a team from ABMen in New York State will be coming. Assistance and supplies have come in from all over the country from non-ABC sources as well.
Everyone is Asking: “How Can We Help?”
Continue to encourage donations through One Great Hour of Sharing. All of the impacted regions (and countries) can be helped through OGHS.
ABCNJ is able to distribute store gift cards to churches and families. This enables them to buy what they need and supports businesses in our state. The best cards to send us are: home supply stores (Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, WalMart, Target) and grocery stores (Shop-Rite, Acme, Foodtown). Gift card collections can be mailed to ABCNJ, 3752 Nottingham Way, Suite 101, Trenton, NJ 08690.
ABCNJ’s Baptist Camp Lebanon will be opened up as a supply depot for non-perishable items. Boxes may be shipped to: Baptist Camp Lebanon, 79 Blossom Hill Rd., Lebanon, NJ 08833. We can only accept the following items:
- Gallon Ziplock Bags
- Heavy Duty Contractor Grade Garbage Bags
- Bleach, other industrial cleaning supplies
- Sponges, Buckets
- Toilet Paper, Paper Towels
- Shovels and Brooms
- Dust masks and Work gloves
- Bubble Wrap, Packing tape, and New Empty Boxes
- Hand sanitizer
- Towels, Washclothes, Blankets, Sheets, Air Mattresses
- New underwear and socks for men, women and children
Everyone is also Asking: “Can We Come and Help?”
We request that individuals with specialized skills contact the American Baptist Mission Societies’ Volunteers in Mission office.
If a church is in the mid-Atlantic area of the country, it may be practical to send a short-term team to do volunteer work. Please email ABCNJ (firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide full contact information, size of group and work focus. We will share your offer with churches to see if they can accommodate you. You will be responsible for all costs related to your visit. Please understand that hotels are full and it takes a good deal of work to host a volunteer group. For others, we strongly encourage that you consider monetary gifts instead of coming to New Jersey at this point.
Pastors and churches all over the country have contacted ABCNJ to see if they can create a sister church relationship with a specific impacted church. Most of our churches, through existing relational ties, already have partnerships with other churches. At this point, the region will acknowledge your request and pass it on to our churches for them to consider, but we cannot promise such a relationship will happen.
Moving from Crisis to Community Rebuilding
On behalf of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, I want to thank the ABC family for the encouragement, love and support we have received from all over the country. This has been a trying time for our state, and the rebuilding effort will take many years to complete, but tremendous progress has already been achieved.
The two storms plunged New Jersey and surrounding areas into crisis. Millions lost electrical power, heat, internet, cable TV. High winds knocked down trees and damaged roofs everywhere, sand from our cherished beaches was pushed throughout entire towns, and floodwater damaged countless homes. Gasoline had to be rationed in northern and eastern counties, in large part because service stations had no electrical power. Many people lost everything because their homes were destroyed.
In just two weeks, schools have opened, the trains are running, gas rationing has ended, stores have reopened, and most areas have electricity and heat again. I am so proud about how New Jerseyans rose to the challenges we have faced; one sees neighbors helping each other get back on their feet. Downed trees are being removed, roofs are being repaired, and roads are being cleared.
Here is an idea: help us rebuild by vacationing in New Jersey next summer! The Jersey shore is a magical place where generations of people have cherished memories of special family vacations. Come and enjoy the shore and all of its attractions, and worship in one of our ABCNJ churches. You’ll be most welcome!
Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, ABCNJ Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor