When Rowlett First Christian Church leaders started checking on members Dec. 26, 2015, after a massive tornado tore through the North Texas community, it was a harrowing experience.
“I got a text from one of the elders standing at a corner about three blocks from my house who said the area looked like a war zone,” said property chair and elder Jerry Dunne. He had stopped to wait out the storm in a restaurant west of town.
He joined rescue teams as soon as he got home, and neighborhood residents started showing up at the church for assistance until they could get access to resources again.
“This was our first tornado,” said Dunne. “We learned plenty from it.”
Church leaders knew they faced years of reconstruction – long after relief agencies had left the area. They also knew Disciples ministries would have their backs.
Immediate Week of Compassion solidarity grants helped them get through the early days when houses were uninhabitable.
Week of Compassion and the North Texas Area of the Southwest Region helped the church transform the fellowship hall into a living space with showers and laundry facilities for volunteer groups. A spare office became a room for a long-term volunteer from Disciples Volunteering, who would coordinate work groups and recovery efforts.
Meanwhile, the church had support from Disciples Church Extension Fund‘s (DCEF) new Disaster Response service, which helps churches that face structural issues after natural disasters. DCEF caught an inspection oversight that could have cost the church tens of thousands of dollars.
The church has become the mission station their Rowlett neighbors need for the long haul, including rebuilding at least 13 houses with Disciples Volunteering.
A tornado can twist in a congregation’s trajectory. Empowering a church to rebuild its neighborhood is a great ministry investment, and these Disciples ministries will continue to support the Rowlett recovery for as long as there is need.
Pastor Ann Dotson will tell you, “All this help from Disciples means this church can focus on what we do best: help people!”