I'm just back from Nashville, where I worked with folks from New Providence Presbyterian Church, in Maryville, Tenn., and staff from the Office of the General Assembly, including Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, in helping to rebuild homes destroyed by the spring flooding.
My guess is that most of you, like me, saw the photos when the flood happened -- cars floating down the interstate -- and then were overtaken by subsequent events, so the situation in Nashville faded from view.
The reality that I saw and experienced is that there is still much, much to do in rebuilding homes there -- in fact, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance estimates it may take up to five years to finish all the work. Home after home has had to be gutted and rebuilt from within, and most of the homeowners don't have flood insurance to pay for the work.
Our team worked on five different houses. I have to say I was impressed by how some Presbyterians really get into it with power tools! I myself was fully occupied painting kitchen cabinets -- although I had to be tutored by our site leader, who said I wasn't "feathering" properly (not surprisingly, since I had no idea what "feathering" was).
Our team was housed and supported by the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, which has put into place an efficient and impressive operation for ongoing relief work. They set apart a wing of their building for the use of work teams, and have installed bunk beds, showers, and laundry equipment. Since June, teams have worked on 62 houses in the Nashville area.
Is your congregation thinking about a mission trip? Maybe it should be to Nashville. To schedule a trip, call the PDA call center at 1-866-732-6121. The Presbytery of Middle Tennessee has also set up a fund for flood relief donations: send your donation to 318 Seaboard Lane, Franklin, Tenn. 37067.