by: Conference Minister Diane Weible
The ash in the air is a constant reminder that fires are burning and lives are affected.
I watch the news on TV about the fires all over Northern California and I hear them speak of the “Summer Fire Season”. I have come to learn in the short time I have lived here that wildfires are not a one-time tragedy but a reality in California and many other Western States for many months each year. It wasn’t a reality in the places I have lived in my life so I may not completely understand how much more intense or frequent they have become but I do understand one thing: For the families and communities who are at the center of any individual fire, this fire, this moment is a horrible moment in their lives. Sixteen wildfires burning over 300,000 acres are statistics that have our heads spinning but any one acre that burns and destroys a home is the acre that matters the most to that particular family.
Families in Napa and Sonoma are still struggling to re-build their lives after last year’s fires and now communities like Redding are facing the same devastation.
We are the church. When our brothers and sisters in one place suffer; we all suffer. When our siblings in Christ are most in need of help, we pray, we reach out, we uphold and support them in the ways we are able. With the fires still burning there is a limit to what we can do right now in terms of physical help but we pray and we are ready to help when the opportunity arises.
Yesterday Rev. Joseph Shore-Goss, Pastor of Petaluma UCC, and Rev. Davena Jones, Associate Conference Minister, delivered ten clean-up buckets that were assembled during Annual Gathering from donations and donated items of those who attended. When we made those buckets and dedicated them and when Rev. Shore-Goss volunteered to keep them at Petaluma UCC and deliver them when needed, we never expected them to be needed quite so soon. I have a picture in my head of the buckets and their contents as I saw people bring them in to the Student Center at Sonoma State ready to assemble and now I picture those same buckets and contents being used to help with clean up in fire-stricken areas and I am reminded of how important it is that the Church shows up at times like this and I am grateful for all the ways that is happening.
And, we cannot forget that even though there is a Fire Season and wildfires in California are not new, Climate Change is a factor. Participating in events that bring awareness to climate change is something all of us can do. Rise for Climate is a global day of action that will occur on September 8 to seek to bring an end to the era of fossil fuels. We will have more information in next week’s newsletter but please mark your calendars and visit riseforclimate.org to learn more.