You can help through Trinity Gatlinburg!

From Trinity’s Interim Rector Bob Beasley:

I’ve been responding to folks who want to help through Trinity Church in Gatlinburg. We have at least six families whose homes have been destroyed by the fires. We’re also worried about some people to whom we have provided assistance who live in the old motels, work a low paying jobs, and have no transportation. Please let anyone know that they may send contributions to the Trinity Church Discretionary Fund, c/o Trinity Church, PO Box 55, Gatlinburg, 37738. We will get it to those in need.

Church is still intact. A parishioner who could get in town because she works for the city sent this photo.

No physical damage to Trinity, Gatlinburg

Grateful for this You Tube video Trinity Episcopal Church walk around after the Fire.

We also received a report from Trinity’s verger:

Managed to access the building today. Virtually no physical damage, aside from the loss of one of the entrance coach lamps due to flying debris.  The building smells of smoke throughout, but there is no evidence of fire damage at all.

We’ll have some extensive exterior clean-up required due to branches, limbs, leaves and some flying debris that landed in the church and rectory yards, however both buildings appear structurally sound and usable.

Although parishioners will not be able to meet at the church this Sunday, they will gather at a parishioner’s home for worship. Please keep them in your prayers as you worship.

Trinity’s verger also let us know that our brethren at the Church of Christ right behind Trinity have lost their building – it was destroyed in the fire. Please hold them in your prayers.

Immanuel – God With Us

People need help in times of crisis and some companies call local counselors or therapists for employee assistance. Nancy Mott, a parishioner at St. Luke, Knoxville, and a semi-retired licensed therapist, worked with a large company in Pigeon Forge this week to provide counseling to employees who have been affected by the Gatlinburg fire. Some have lost their homes or apartments and all have been affected by the devastation in the Smoky Mountains.

She was called on November 30 as the extent of the devastation was still being determined – and not all of the company’s employees had been accounted for. When she arrived at the office the next day, she learned that four employees’ homes had burned.

Mott was available at the company all day, but said that few people followed through on the offer of assistance. “For many people,” she said “talking with a stranger is difficult and counseling is not a normal part of life for all.” She spoke with a couple people who had lost their apartment to the fire. Mott said one person was emotional but upbeat about her faith. The woman watched the fire from her window, and even before receiving an evacuation notice, decided to leave with her child. She took with her family pictures and her child’s treasured toy. Despite the loss of her apartment and its contents, she felt that nothing important had been lost – just things – and things can be replaced.

Mott said, “Some of us survive tragedy by keeping things as normal as possible. And stern people of the mountains for generations have survived by taking care of each other. Going to work meant they were with their team. Over and over I heard, ‘We’re holding on to each other, putting our arms around each other and holding close.’ But it must be difficult then to go home to the loss.”

Even the loss of a beloved place in nature can have an impact. “These places function as part of our security – our rock, “Mott said. “Even if we live close to the mountains and don’t get there as often as we’d like, we hold them close to us.”

“Everybody is in a cloud of confusion now,” Mott said, but in the aftermath of the fire, she’s heard people saying they know Jesus is with them. And Mott agrees that faith is a critical part of dealing with tragedy. “One thing we can always count on – we know God is always with us – whether people want to say “the Universe,” or “Spirit,” or whatever name they have for God,” Mott said. “And for us Christians, it’s Immanuel – God With Us.”

It can take some time to deal with tragedy and loss, and we can experience unexpected feelings during this time. Mott had important words for all of us in the days ahead, “We need to be kind to each other,” she said.

Trinity appears untouched by fire

From Trinity, Gatlinburg’s Facebook page December 1:

The church appears to have been untouched by fire and members were hoping to hold services there on Sunday, but at a press conference officials said that the Gatlinburg Parkway will not be open until Monday.  Whether services will be held yet it is undetermined. And whether access will be available from any direction by Sunday is not known. Without Parkway access most would not be able to attend church.

Update on Trinity, Gatlinburg

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Trinity,

I return from CA Wednesday evening. I’ve been stunned to see what has happened as a result of the fires back in Gatlinburg and Sevier County. Many of Trinity’s parishioners have expressed the trauma the fires have caused in their lives.

I have heard from quite a few in the wider world who are anxious about Trinity Church, her parishioners, and the people of Gatlinburg. We are not yet able to get to the church until the authorities have cleared the way and allowed folks back into Gatlinburg. I have heard from two sources that the church is okay though there is much damage nearby. I’ve heard from four parishioners whose homes were destroyed and heard about more possibilities. We will have to give each other a lot of love and support and rely deeply on the peace and power of God.

In addition, we know that Gatlinburg and its people will face many challenges in recovery. Many people in the community were already living in very difficult circumstances in the old motels without personal transportation.

 I am hoping we can have services Sunday, but it depends on being able to get to the church. I think those who can get there need some time for fellowship, support, and prayer. In a time of great need, we may find solace in praising God. I’ll let everyone know when we know for sure and hope they are able to get email.

If those in the wider world would like to help, there are, of course, many ways to do so. You may also send contributions to the Trinity Church Discretionary Fund at the address below. We’ll see that it is used for the good of those in the community.

Please remember to lift up the community in prayer.

Thank you.

Peace,

Bob Beasley
Interim Rector

Trinity Episcopal Church
PO Box 55
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
trinitye@belllsouth.net   (865) 436-4721

Assist us mercifully, O Lord

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

We know you share our concern about our parishes, families and friends in Sevier County that have been so seriously threatened by devastating wild fires. There’s a lot of information flying around, but very little of it is verified. So we encourage you, at this stage, to watch and pray for all those affected by this natural disaster.

As soon as we have more complete information about the status of our own we will let you know. In the meantime, we suggest that you consider making a financial contribution to the local Red Cross (the branch that is serving this area is the “East Tennessee Chapter”). We’ve also been in contact with Episcopal Relief and Development to inform them about the situation and ask for their help. A contribution to that organization is always a good thing to do.

Several of our parishes are working with local fire and police departments to begin to collect items that are of need as we move through the rescue phase of the response to the fires. We will be posting information about those opportunities on our website and social media for those who are interested in participating in that way.

We do not know the status of the buildings of Trinity parish in Gatlinburg, but have been advised that, as of last night, the parishioners are in safe places. St. Joseph parish in Sevierville is checking in with their folks – a couple of their parishioners spent the night at the church. Annunciation parish in Newport has not been affected at this point, but is close to the area where the wild fires are still a danger. Depending on what has happened, the recovery phase of this disaster will provide many ways for people and parishes to help. So, our work right now is to wait, pray and stand ready to assist when things get a bit clearer.

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by thy gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Christ,

GeorgPatSignatures-OneLine

The Rt. Rev. George Dibrell Young,III and the Rev. Canon Patricia Grace


If you’d like to join in prayer:

  • St. Joseph, Sevierville, will be holding a Prayer and Meditation Service open to all at 10:30 tomorrow morning. The church is located at 345 Hardin Lane, Sevierville. If you are unable to be present, please join the prayer wherever you are at 10:30 tomorrow morning.

If you are looking for ways to help:

  • Donate to Red Cross:> Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief
    > Donate by phone via credit card: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
    > Donate on website: http://www.redcross.org/
  • St. Andrew, Maryville, will be collecting items for the Sevier County fire victims today and tomorrow. Suggested donations are as follows: bottled water, sports drinks, protein/energy bars, pre-packaged snacks, pet food, diapers, baby wipes and other basic toiletries. Please have them to the church by 5 p.m. The church is located at 314 W Broadway Ave., Maryville.
  • The Townsend Visitor Center and Blount partnership are drop-off points for donations – the Visitor Center website has a donation list; see the list at http://www.smokymountains.org/.
  • Donate to Episcopal Relief and Development US Disaster Response: http://bit.ly/1zi0whE. A few years ago, Episcopal Relief and Development has already helped us directly in another disaster so we know just how much their help matters!

If you would like to share information or ways to help: