The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) said during its fall meeting in Las Vegas that hurricanes Katrina and Rita have demonstrated the need for dioceses and congregations to have disaster plans.
The council’s resolution also recommends that dioceses and congregations “take steps to provide instructions to clergy and other leaders concerning what to do and where to go in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist event.”
The council meeting took place against the backdrop of a major earthquake in Pakistan and landslides and flooding in Central America, as well as the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the United States.
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold told the council that the events showed that the “fellowship of Christ’s suffering” extends outward around the world and that members of ECUSA are called to live in that context.
Following the close of the council’s four-day meeting Bishop Griswold said that he was extremely encouraged by all the reports the council heard about ECUSA’s efforts to aid the victims of the hurricanes and other disasters.
“We are clearly committed to a long-term effort,” he said.
That effort, he said, is not merely one of rebuilding church buildings “but helping to rebuild whole communities, because without the community, the church has no purpose.” That rebuilding, he added, must always answer the gospel’s call to build communities that are equitable and that meet the needs of their most vulnerable members.
The council also asked that the Presiding Bishop and the management team at ECUSA’s national office prepare a new disaster plan for the Church Center at 815 Second Avenue in New York. In addition, the council asked that the staff of the Church Center study whether to create an office of disaster planning for the church.
In a related resolution, the council expressed gratitude to those providing disaster relief to the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the form of prayer, financial assistance and direct service. The resolution notes that such work is rooted in the Baptismal Covenant “and the example of Christ who called on all believers to care for the least among us.”