This season of Joy has been stunned by an unusual and historic outbreak of severe weather across the Midwest and we once again find ourselves in mourning, as communities deal with the aftermath of a tornado outbreak that has left scores of people dead. Six states are now picking up the pieces left by as many as 30 twisters that have destroyed homes, businesses, churches, and lives. We wait in agony as the death toll climbs higher.

In Kentucky alone, at least four tornadoes were reported, one traveling as far as 200 miles, leaving devastation and grief in its path. Our hearts break at the loss of dozens of lives at a factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, a town that was especially hard hit. We are seeing images of total destruction, even among churches of all denominations, leveled in the night by powerful winds.

People in Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee are also suffering loss, including an Illinois factory and an Arkansas nursing home.

It will be weeks before we know the extent of damage these storms have caused, but we call on everyone to make this a true season of giving and support efforts to help those impacted by this tragedy.

We pray for emergency crews that must move quickly, yet cautiously through mountains of debris in search of survivors. We ask God to keep them safe and provide them with the needed strength for the difficult task ahead.

We ask Presbyterians and other concerned individuals across this country to pray for the towns and communities impacted by these horrific storms. We pray that God will wrap loving arms around each family during what should be a time of celebration and re-birth. Through the pain, we have the assurance that God loves us and will restore us in our hour of need.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has mobilized a response and has reached out to affected presbyteries. Gifts can be designated to DR000015.

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)