Associate Pastor Ben Davidson of Bethany Community Church learned a valuable lesson during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that benefitted him and his congregation the morning of Nov. 17, 2013, when a powerful tornado tore through Washington IL.
His quick thinking reminds me when disasters occur; having a plan can save lives and help pivot a community toward a strong recovery. I have learned this lesson many times through the faith leaders I’ve engaged as director of the DHS Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships.
On Sunday morning Pastor Davidson was preparing to begin his adult Sunday school class, when he received an emergency phone call. A tornado had touched down and their church was in its path.
Immediately he and the staff worked to move the congregation --particularly the children -- to their designated shelter in the church location and they began to pray together as the storm passed through their community.
The entire congregation comforted one another through what Pastor Davidson recalls as "the longest 45 minutes of my life." Once all congregants were accounted for and that families could leave the sheltered location Pastor Davidson immediately went home to confirm the safety of his children who were at home sick that morning.