Damage sustained at First Presbyterian Church in Napa, Calif. (Facebook photo by David Stoker)
Damage sustained at First Presbyterian Church in Napa, Calif. (Facebook photo by David Stoker)

Baptists prepared for Calif. quake response

Churches in Napa, Calif., are already busy serving quake victims in their communities, while national Baptist disaster-relief agencies stand ready with funds, people and equipment.

By Jeff Brumley

The CrossWalk Community Church social media presence changed drastically in tone over the weekend, from good-natured ice bucket challenges on Saturday to urgent pleas to help earthquake victims on Sunday.

“We will be open for prayer at 9:00 and 10:00,” said a Sunday Facebook post by the American Baptist Churches-USA congregation in Napa, Calif., where a 6.0 magnitude quake struck that morning. “Church is safe and sound but major clean up needed. Let us know if you have emergency needs we can help each other with.”

That early response mirrors what’s happening locally, regionally and nationally among Baptist disaster-response agencies. Those groups are already doing what they can — and for now that means asking their connections in northern California what kind of financial, equipment or manpower resources are needed.

CrossWalk-Curb-FB-TitledLocal responders are busy. More than 200 people have been reported injured in the early morning quake that damaged or destroyed homes and knocked out power to 70,000 in the California wine country.

Many homes and businesses not destroyed or severely damaged still suffered some effects.

“CrossWalk did not sustain structural damage as far as we can tell,” Pastor Pete Shaw told ABPnews/Herald by email Monday morning. “We did have most rooms ransacked by the quake: bookshelves dumped, lots of broken glass, etc.”

Shaw said many in his congregation reported the same from their homes.

“Gratefully, we had a good number of people come and help us get things cleaned up so that we could be operational by the afternoon,” he said.

Shaw referred not only to CrossWalk’s ability to host services on Sunday, but also in its designated role as a Red Cross shelter, “which means a lot of services converge on our campus.”

‘Prepared to respond’

Resources could be converging on the San Francisco Bay area in the coming weeks and months if they are requested, said the leaders of Baptist agencies with nationwide disaster capabilities.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s initial response will be to provide funds for Napa-area churches or ministries for the purchase of food and supplies for distribution, said Tommy Deal, CBF’s U.S. disaster response director.

tommydealDeal spent Monday morning checking in with CBF West and pastors at Fellowship congregations near the quake’s epicenter. He said he had yet to be asked for resources.

Another possibility is that quake victims may later tap into CBF’s specialty at long-term disaster recovery.

Virginia Baptists are ready to go — if called — to provide immediate cleanup and recovery services, said Dean Miller, disaster relief coordinator with the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.

“We are prepared to respond to any location with all of our resources — persons and equipment,” Miller said.  “That includes feeding, chainsaw, flooding, chaplains, childcare, leadership, water purification, communications and other resources that may be asked of us that we can place our hands on.”

miller-deanBut none of that has been requested, he added, “so our current response would be strictly financial.”

‘Like a freight train’

In the meantime, churches in and around the areas hardest hit by the quake are doing what they can for the communities around them.

CrossWalk Community Church today has been using its Facebook page as a bulletin board, announcing which local churches are closed due to damage and offering recovery and other groups their space until no longer needed.

Shaw told ABPnews/Herald that his and other churches are stepping up to address the emotional and physical needs of the quake victims.

“This quake hit like a freight train,” he said. “Lot's of people were simply terrified when it hit — my family certainly was — but everyone seems to be focused on getting things back together in their own homes, and for their neighbors.”