A Word from Bishop Suarez about Preparing for Hurricane Dorian
August 30, 2019
Dear Friends,

Current projections predict Hurricane Dorian will make landfall in Florida sometime Monday or Tuesday. In an abundance of precaution, the synod office will be closed on Tuesday, although the staff are able to work from home and will stay connected and in good communication with each other throughout the weekend. Please continue to monitor local safety instructions and do what you need to do to stay safe and to help those around you stay safe.

Michele Hilton has been working hard to put the pieces of our synod’s disaster response plan into place. She is in good communication with local and national disaster response partners, as well as with ELCA leadership in Chicago. We are grateful for that care. We will continue to share relevant information via email, on the synod web site, and on our synod facebook page as it is available. Conference Deans, disaster chaplain Pr. Rusty May, synod staff, and other response partners stand ready to walk with and support this synod in whatever we experience throughout this storm. Michele Hilton can be reached at 941.373.5596 .

As I am sure many of you continue to watch the news reports and review the potential impact in your community, I am also aware that anxiety from previous experiences resurfaces. I have personally been remembering the experience of waiting through Hurricane Irma in a bunker in Pompano Beach. The names of previous storms and the memories are etched in the minds of those who have been through storms before. The memories flood back during these days. My heart is with the communities still finding their way following Hurricane Michael, and for our siblings in Christ in Puerto Rico and elsewhere who have been so impacted by previous storms. We have heard initial reports from partners in both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that, while they received heavy rains, they have not experience extensive destruction. I am grateful to God for that. 

It is in times like this that I take comfort in the reminder our hope is not in our ‘stuff’ but in the God who promises to hold us. Even in the midst of a storm, we trust that we belong to God, and that in good times and in difficult times, God is present. Christ suffers with us as nature takes its course. No matter what the future holds, we know WHO is there already: our beautiful savior, Jesus Christ who loves us even through the rough moments of life.  May you be surrounded by the comforting presence of God's promise to never leave nor forsake you this weekend, and may you be encouraged by the prayers and support of those around you.

Sisters and brothers, as we gather this weekend--in our congregations or in our homes--let us pray together...
 
“Most gracious and caring God, we are again in the possible path of a powerful storm. We commend to you those who will suffer loss. Sustain them with your love during this difficult time. Unite us as we work with each other hand in hand. Give us strength and courage to face the consequences. Bless and protect those in search and rescue teams. May your Spirit move among us with her grace and power, so we may recover wisely, making the best decision at the right time. Above all, give us your peace, so we can rest in you. Trusting in your mercies, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen”  

Together with you in Christ,

+Pedro

Bishop Pedro Suarez