Faith-Based Relief Organizations Respond to Volcano Eruption

Following the aftermath of a volcanic eruption on St. Vincent Island, Pastor Cecil Richards and the Kingstown Baptist Church are working to feed evacuated families.

Beginning on April 9, volunteers from the church prepared 170 meals. By April 12, the congregation was feeding 250 and scaling up their capacities to be able to feed 300 families.

Pastor Richards said, “That is only our immediate response. That can’t be it.”

Of the approximately 100,000 people living on St. Vincent, 16,000 to 20,000 had to be evacuated according to a U.N. spokesperson. Additionally, the U.N. assessment found that the eruption has contaminated the entire water supply of the island. Ash from the La Soufrière volcano has covered much of the country, in many areas coating the ground with several inches of sediment.

“How do we counsel as they get stressed? How do we handle some of the emotional needs? How do we minister to them as an organization of faith, representing God?” Richards said. “These are all needs that we will as a church mobilize ourselves to meet.”

To meet the growing needs for what is expected to be a long recovery, faith-based relief organizations are ramping up.

Dan Curran, spokesman for United Methodist Committee on Relief, said: “Since there is ongoing volcanic activity, plans are not yet finalized, but UMCOR’s initial plan is to provide funding and expertise so the local team can deliver basic human needs for people in the disaster shelters that are currently operational. Many are located in churches.”

Food For The Poor, an interdenominational Florida-based organization, and Chabad-Lubavitch of St. Lucia, an Orthodox Jewish organization on a nearby island, have started gathering and sending supplies. The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, a Canadian Anglican organization, has partnered with church representatives on the nearby islands of St. Lucia and Grenada to gather donations.

Bartow Baptist Association in Georgia is deploying disaster response teams along with volunteers to help lead Vacation Bible School and church revitalization work. As faith based relief organizations continue to answer the call to assist St. Vincent, the astounding mass mobilization of resources has inspired the evacuees to be more optimistic about the future.

Source: Baptist Standard