In a season of despair, injustice, food, and housing insecurities during this time of Pandemic from COVID 19, it is a blessing to share some good news. As the COVID vaccines become more readily available and schools, places of business, restaurants begin to reopen. Many feel that things are turning around. And yes, for some things are turning around. However, as the NCNCUCC Disaster coordinator of the Conference Disaster team, we continue to receive requests that tell a different story of the needs beyond COVID-19. The California Wildfires have left so many people homeless, with food and basic necessities to survive. The Oroville Congregation was part of the first responders for Berry Creek fire survivors and victims.
This year has emphasized who were are as the hands and feet of Christ in a time of need. Reaching beyond the walls and extending beyond our communities to be of service to those in need. Pastor McHenry shares that 1 Samuel 12:24 (NSV) reminds us to, “Only fear the Lord, and serve God faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things God has done for you.” It was with great joy that Pastor McHenry exclaimed- God is doing great things for us! We are in awe of our generous donors in our Congregation, our community, and in partnership with the Northern California Nevada Conference Disaster Ministry Team.
The Old Testament often refers to the sojourner in the ancient Hebrew community. A sojourner is a person or group who temporarily lives in the community, not their own, and who depends on that community’s goodwill. After the last two years of fires and stress in Oroville, we have met many sojourners here. Matthew 25:40 reminds us, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
The latest group of fire survivors is from Berry Creek, a small community near Oroville. Tiny Homes, Inc., with volunteer labor, is building one home at a time for families/singles. The Oroville Congregation was fortunate to be able to help a young family with a baby. Their Missions Committee has agreed to spearhead the fundraising activities for this family. Alyssa Nolan started the organization to build homes for displaced Camp Fire sojourners. She tells us she can get a barebone home produced for $5,500. So, that was their goal!
With the desire to do more, Pastor Andrew McHenry reached out to the NCNCUCC Team for assistance. Our Conference disaster team agreed to partner with the Tiny Pine Foundation to give $24,000, so they can build three new homes for families that lost everything in the fires last summer. Right now, they’re developing a new property in Concow that’s going to have 35 homes; it’s a cooperative effort with Engineers Without Borders. Our church advocated for this with the Northern California – Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ (NCNCUCC), and the team agreed to it. We count it a blessing that we can facilitate these resources going into our community.
It is with deep gratitude, on behalf of the Tiny Pine Foundation, The First Congregational Church of Oroville, our Conference Staff, and your Conference Disaster Team, that I say Thank You Northern California Nevada Family. Your gifts, fundraisers, musical concerts, private donations, and church donations made a difference. Your generosity provided homes for four families. Thanks be to God, and May God bless all of you abundantly.
Your Sister in Christ,
Alyssa Nolan Tiny Pine Foundation (left) Kay Castro, FCC Missions Committee
Pastor McHenry in a Tiny Home currently under construction.