Monday, August 22, 2011


On April 27th, Tuscaloosa county and other conuties in north and central Alabama were devestated by a severe outbreak of deadly tornadoes. In Tuscaloosa, over 70,00 homes and businesses were severely and totally destroyed including three schools, the Emergency Management Services headquarters, the Salvation Army headquarters, the American Red Cross headquarters, and a fire station and police annex. Fifty individuals in Tuscaloosa died as a result of the tornadoes. First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Tuscaloosa received money from Week of Compassion and other Disciples Churches to provided immediate and ongoing assistance to church members and others in the community. Shortly after the storms, members of our church and of Cottondale Christian Church met with our Regional Minister, Rev. John Mobley, and with Brandon Gilvin, Week of Compassion, and Josh Baird, Disciples Volunteering, representing our General Church, to begin exploring the opportunities to become involved in long term relief efforts.

Holt Peterson Road

Bridge over Hurricane Creek

Home in Alberta Community

Home off Hargrove Road

On July 31st, Rex and Pattie Williams, Mission Station Coordinators from Cherry Log, GA arrived to identify the work that was already being done in Tuscaloosa. They toured the city and met with groups who were also involved in long term recovery efforts to established partnerships for doing the work lying ahead. They made a trip to Nashville, TN to pick up a mobile shower unit and work trailers that had been used by Disciples Volunteering over the past year where they had been doing flood clean up and restoration projects.

Rex and Pattie Williams
Mission Station Coordinators

Mobile Shower Unit
Equipment trailers

The first group of Disciples Volunteering from Richlands, NC arrived on August 7th. It was a group of 22 volunteers, some veterans and some who were doing it for the first time. They were housed by Cottondale Christian Church .

Disciples Volunteering

First Christian Church

Richlands, N.C.

The group spent Monday thru Friday doing a variety of jobs ranging from working in the Salvation Army warehouse and distribution center to debris clean up and working on a Habitat for Humanity house build. One team worked on debris removal and clean up of a home in Alberta. The owner of the home, Abraham, shared his story of leaving his house immediately after the storm and witnessing the total devastation of his neighborhood. He said that all he could do was walk thru the neighborhhod and sign praises to his Lord for sparing his life. He posted a sign on the side of what was left of his house stating that "The Good News Is That God Is Still God."

Sign posted in Alberta home

Habitat build in Holt

Home being built

Clean up in Alberta

Getting Dirty for Jesus

Salvation Army distribution center

The group enjoyed a delicious pot luck dinner on Wednesday night provided by the members of Cottondale Christian Church. The pastor of the Richlands church, Gary Edens, and several other members, knew on of our former ministers, Gary Edge, who is currently serving Valley Christian Church in Birmingham. He had even baptized some of them in the 70's while he was in NC. He was able to join them for dinner on Friday night.

Cottondale Christian

covered dish dinner


Rev. Gary Edge, Valley Christian, Birmingham, AL

Rev. Gary Edens, First Christian, Richlands, N.C.

If you would like to know more of the first hand experiences of the Richlands group, you can find them, complete with pictures, at

Thank you FCC Richlands for your time and talents and most of all for your Christian spirit. We are looking forward to an ongoing relationship with you. God Bless You.

One of the first projects was to provide a place for the mission station coordinators to reside while groups working in the area. A couple from White, Georgia, David and Connie Spear, offered their time and talents to do some renovations in our Joseph Hornback Disciples House to make it available for this purpose. In just a few days, they completely renovated a bathroom, leveled some areas of the house, and did some other minor repairs to the area that would accomodate a couple who would be overseeing groups of volunteers .

A youth mission group from First Christian Church, Huntsville, arrived soon after and did some major cleaning in other areas of the Disciples house and also did some volunteering in the community. They were followed on July 31st by Pattie and Rex Williams, Mission Station Coordinators from Cherry Log, GA. They did the preliminary work in identifying what work was already being done in Tuscaloosa. I drove them around town to see the devestation and they met with groups in the area that are also involved in long term recovery efforts. When they came, they also brought in the work trailers and mobile shower unit that would be used over the time volunteers would be coming.

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