Churches in Birmingham Association join disaster relief efforts in their communitiescomment (0)
June 14, 2012
On the evening of April 27, 2011, “a lot of people were in our church basement” during a tornado, said C.B. Scott, pastor of Westmont Baptist Church, Birmingham, in Birmingham Baptist Association.
After seeing the destruction, some church members emptied their freezers and took the contents to the church. There, volunteers grilled food and announced “free food” on the church’s sign.
Then the church began to prepare food and take it into Pleasant Grove, McDonald’s Chapel and Pratt City to feed volunteers and people affected by the storms, Scott said.
The church also prepared food boxes to deliver in the community.
While all these activities were transpiring, a representative of the Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) disaster relief asked if the group could work out of Westmont.
In addition, “people heard about us on the Internet,” Scott continued. “People started sending us money.”
The church set up a special account for that money and established a disaster relief center that became a cooperative effort of Birmingham Association and the PCA.
Hackleburg was also a recipient of some of the aid given through Westmont.
Before long the church was serving 400 meals a day, Scott estimated.
The following churches joined the effort: First Baptist Church, Pelham; Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham; Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church, Birmingham; and Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church, Pleasant Grove. A church from Chilton County and one from Montgomery also aided relief efforts.
First Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla., and Clemson Presbyterian Church, Clemson, S.C., assisted in rebuilding houses, Scott said.
More volunteers came from Nashville and Washington state, among other places.
“I don’t know where all we had teams from,” Scott said. “They just started coming.”
Many volunteers lodged in Westmont’s family life center. To accommodate them, Birmingham Association’s shower unit “stayed here for months,” Scott said. “The Birmingham Association sent food and money here constantly.”
In addition, the church built storage sheds in its parking lot and transported them to sites where homes would be constructed. The sheds gave people a place to store their belongings until their homes were finished.
A total of 22 sheds were constructed.
During this season of helping others weather a difficult time, Scott said Westmont members of all ages and of varying levels of mobility volunteered.
“It was a great time for this church and a great bonding,” he said.
Many denominations — Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, Church of God, Assembly of God, Church of Christ and Mennonite — worked together in harmony, Scott continued. “I was amazed and humbled in the presence of the Lord.”
It was also a time when some people experienced new life.
“We had people who came to faith during this and joined the church,” Scott said.