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A message from Bishop Jim Gonia
We hold in love and prayer all who have lost their homes, including two pastor families
To my beloved people of the Rocky Mountain Synod,
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ... If one member suffers, all suffer together with it. (1 Corinthians 12:12, 26a)
All of us watched in horror as the wildfire in Boulder County was fueled by the winds and raged out of control. We then waited with those we know and love with homes in Superior and Louisville to learn of their outcomes. I am now saddened to share with you that among the hundreds who have lost their homes in the fire are two Rocky Mountain Synod pastor families and more than a dozen church member families.
Pastor Todd Payne and Pastor Stacy Payne (both on leave from call), and their three children lost their home in the fire in Louisville.
Pastor Stephanie Lord (serving Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Louisville), her husband, William McHardy, and their two children also lost their home in the fire in Louisville. We are grateful that the congregation's building was not impacted, but at least twelve church member families lost their homes. I will be present with the people of Christ the Servant at worship on January 2. I also have reports of some additional homes lost of other Boulder area church families.
Together, we walk with those who are on this journey of rebuilding their homes and lives, along with all others who may have lost loved ones, their homes, businesses, and livelihoods.
To all of the congregations, ministries, leaders, and communities of our Boulder Broomfield Conference who are impacted, we together hold you in prayer and share in your shock and sorrow at the suddenness and scale of this disaster. We stand ready to assist in any way possible.
Our ELCA Disaster Response team has already been in touch and will mobilize resources to support the people and communities most impacted. On Monday, January 3, I will be meeting by Zoom at 1 p.m. with Boulder County congregations and a representative of ELCA Disaster Response.
While the journey ahead will be long, particularly for those who have lost homes and businesses, we hope those impacted and those who minister to them will take comfort in the promise that you will not journey alone. As fellow members of the Body of Christ, we trust the Spirit will use us as vessels of God’s healing and hope in this time of need.
Yours in faith,
How to help
We are only beginning to assess the needs of those impacted by this disasterous fire. At this time time we invite contributions towards fire disaster relief to be used where the need is greatest, especially for those in our Rocky Mountain Synod congregations who are impacted. As more specific needs are identified, we will share more information.
You may give to the Rocky Mountain Synod Fire Disaster Fund
From ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response
January 1, 2022
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7).
It is unusual for me to be sending a note to you on behalf of Lutheran Disaster Response on a holiday such as today, but the needs of those we serve persist even on such days – and today, the needs of our neighbors in Colorado are great. The Marshall Fire ignited on Dec. 30 in Boulder County, Colo. Over 6,200 acres burned quickly, forcing the evacuations of 35,000 people. The fire spread throughout suburban neighborhoods, destroying at least 500 homes. While December wildfires are rare, the severe drought in the western United States created hazardous conditions that allowed the Marshall Fire to spread rapidly. This unusual fire is one of the impacts of a changing climate and will become increasingly more common.
Lutheran Disaster Response is engaging with the Rocky Mountain Synod and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains to respond to the impact of the fires. We anticipate that immediate needs will include emotional and spiritual care, temporary shelters, food and other necessities. With local partners, Lutheran Disaster Response will continue to accompany survivors throughout the years of long-term recovery.
You may also designate gifts to “Lutheran Disaster Response” so we can immediately respond to disasters in the United States and around the world whenever they might strike.
We pray that God may comfort and protect those impacted by the wildfires in Colorado. Together, we can walk with survivors and show them that they are not alone.
In Christ’s service,
The Rev. Daniel Rift
Director, ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response Fund
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Worship and Prayer Resources
Litany in Time of Wildfires
Holy God, in the wake of fires that devour and consume,
Refresh us with the water of life.
In the barren places of ash and dust,
Restore us with the water of life.
When all we can see is devastation and despair,
Renew us with the water of life.
In Christ, we are washed clean.
We are refreshed.
In Christ, we drink from the wellspring of hope.
We are restored.
In Christ, we dance in the fountain of life.
We are renewed.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
We pray to you almighty God, as we have witnessed the power and destruction of the Boulder County wildfires. You are our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble. In the face of this tragic loss, uphold us with your love, and give us the strength we need. Help us in our confusion, and guide our actions. Heal the broken, console those faciing devestating loss, and give hope to those who are overwhelmed; for the sake of your great mercy in Jesus Christ our Lord.
God our comforter, you are a refuge and a strength for us, a helper close at hand in times of distress. Enable us so to hear the words of faith that our fear is dispelled, our loneliness eased, our anxiety calmed, and our hope reawakened. May your Holy Spirit lift us above our sorrow to the peace and light of your constant love; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.