Not a good time to draw lines in the sandCarlton County Coordinator Dennis Genereau said it first. “There is no separation of church and state when it comes to disaster,” he told the Carlton County Board of Commissioners within a week of the flood.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Carlton County Coordinator Dennis Genereau said it first.
“There is no separation of church and state when it comes to disaster,” he told the Carlton County Board of Commissioners within a week of the flood.
At that point, Genereau was mostly referring to the fact that nearly every flood-related meeting in Moose Lake had taken place in a church. The donation center was in a church. Community meals were held in a church.
No one complained, even when a local minister started off the meeting with a prayer.
Many of the volunteers who have helped in the days and weeks since the flooding– homegrown and visitors – have come as part of a religious organization.
The subject of the Pine Journal’s “Our Neighbors” story (on Page B10) this week, Pastor Mike Stevens, worked tirelessly in the weeks following the flood, every day but Sunday some weeks, leading different volunteer groups out to homes in the county impacted by our disastrous flash flood.
Pastor Tom Schaer came, too (see Page A2 in this week’s Pine Journal) using a hammer and crowbar to take down damp paneling and wood trim that might otherwise make an elderly woman ill from mold exposure in the months to come.
Groups of men – many of them skilled in construction trades – from three Mennonite congregations in and near Barron, Wis., traveled two hours each way to do a full day’s work two Saturdays running. In a matter of two or three hours, they completed jobs that would have taken most groups a whole day to accomplish.
A busload of Baptists came from Becker, Minn., for a hard day’s work, the same day that a group of five came from Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in the Twin Cities.
Those are just a few of the churches who sent volunteers.
Then there are the church groups who specialize in helping after disaster: Convoy of Hope, Catholic United Response, Adventist Disaster Response, NECHAMA Jewish Response to Disaster, Samaritan’s Purse. Those groups and more have driven hours and days to get here, trucks and trailers loaded with tools and supplies they know are needed after a flood.
They also bring experience in dealing with the aftermath of disaster, which is as important as rubber gloves and bleach.
It’s not that people of faith have a monopoly on volunteering. Other individuals have come forward, to volunteer a day or more, helping neighbors they don’t know in their time of need.
But the numbers speak for themselves. On one day, July 13, only one out of approximately 15 volunteers was not there as part of a church. And he – Colorado resident Toby Glaser – came to Cloquet to visit his sweetheart, Paige Lopeman, who happened to be working that day.
Without the different church groups, church leaders and national organizations, many who have been helped already would still be waiting, mold and mildew growing in their basements and first floor rooms. Government can’t do it all, especially after a decade or more of severe budget cuts.
Genereau was absolutely correct when he said division of church and state doesn’t come into play when disaster strikes.
Thank God for that. And thanks to all you volunteers, no matter what the reason for your gift of time and effort.