Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is monitoring the damage from a string of deadly tornadoes that moved through areas of the Midwest and parts of the South over the weekend of Dec. 10-11, and a church that is applying to join the Eastern District Conference of USMB Churches is reaching out to help.
Branches Outreach Mission, led by pastor Rob Townsend, is a small congregation with less than 60 members in Providence, Ky., that is applying to join the EDC. Although the congregation was not directly hit by the storm, the church is located about 20 miles from Dawson Springs, where about 75 percent of the town is gone, according to EDC minister Terry Hunt.
The congregation is seeking relief help from other churches, and Townsend has asked his congregation to donate blood to the Red Cross.
“They have a big heart for reaching and serving their community,” Hunt says. “They have sent church members into Dawson Springs with bulk blankets, diapers, water and other sanitary things.”
According to Reuters, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center reported receiving as many as 36 reports of tornadoes in Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi the night of Friday, Dec. 10.
At least 90 people were killed, including 80 in Kentucky, where Governor Andy Beshear called the storms the most destructive in state history. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Kentucky, where the town of Mayfield, Ky., was particularly hard-hit.
According to a Dec. 12 update, MDS Early Response Teams are investigating several of the tornado sites to help determine how and where MDS will respond. Many MDS partners via the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), which specializes in search and rescue, damage assessment and cleanup, are already responding.
Together with its NVOAD partners and local officials, MDS will determine when and where volunteers will be needed most. To be added to a volunteer waitlist, please include your name, address and email address and send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate to the MDS response, visit the MDS website.
As new information becomes available we will continue to update information at www.mds.org.
With files from MDS.
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.