News from Western Massachusetts

Bishop Steve has been in touch with staff at the Diocese of Western Massachusetts in Springfield in the aftermath of the tornado activity there.  While one member of the staff was unable to get home last night and slept at the diocesan office and another is unable to leave home due to debris on her road, all are safe and busy attending to the needs of their community.

The Rev. Peter Swarr, a Maine-grown priest who is rector of St. Mark’s, East Longmeadow, reported this morning on Facebook:

Everything is fine in East Longmeadow. We still have no power and the neighboring towns have been hit hard–lots of homes destroyed and trees uprooted. Please hold Springfield, W. Springfield, Westfield and Wilbraham in your prayers.

Members of St. Philip's, Joplin, outside their home which was demolished by the tornado. With them is their priest, the Rev. Frank Sierra. Photo by Melodie Woerman/Diocese of Kansas

Also yesterday, Melodie Woerman, Communications Director in the Diocese of Kansas, posted a slide show of photos she took while in Joplin, Missouri, for an Interfaith prayer service on Monday.  Her photo gallery is here and she writes:

I met with Bishop Martin Field of West Missouri (who’s been the bishop there less than three months) and the amazing rector of St. Philip’s Church in Joplin, the Rev. Frank Sierra. They took me to the home of Ramona and Hugh Shields, parishioners at St. Philip’s. Ramona was more gracious than one could imagine in sharing her experience with me. They survived but their home is a total loss.

But be sure to check out the pics of Ramona – wearing her Episcopal shield cap and her St. Philip’s Episcopal Church T-shirt. She’s a key leader in her congregation, which now has nine families homeless and half with damage. Thankfully, none of them were killed or seriously injured.

However, please pray for the young parishioners of Grace Church in nearby Carthage, who were in a pick-up truck in the Home Depot parking lot when the tornado struck, tossing it into the store. Both suffered significant injuries but are still alive.

My photos don’t really capture the extent of the devastation. It’s nothing but rubble and tree trunks as far as the eye can see.

More from the Diocese of Western Missouri

Donate to Episcopal Relief & Development’s USA Disaster Response Fund

Photo gallery from Joplin

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