A Message from President Hollinger
Whenever there are natural disasters around the world we are reminded again that our Gordon-Conwell community is a global one. In many of the recent floods, landslides, earthquakes and hurricanes our Gordon-Conwell alumni were present and involved with their local churches and Christian organizations in comforting and assisting those in need.
With many churches still involved in recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, we have all watched with anxiety and deep concern the advance of Hurricane Irma on parts of the Caribbean and the State of Florida this past week. We have many alumni pastors throughout this region. A number offered their church facilities as shelters for, as one alumni pastor put it, the groups of “weather pilgrims.”
Though numbers of alumni churches in Florida were forced to cancel services this past Sunday, several offered sermons and words of comfort to their flock on-line. One example was the message of hope offered by Gordon-Conwell alumnus and trustee David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, FL. His FaceBook Live message was viewed by over 9,000 during the storm.
In his message, David reminded his listeners that, “The wind and the waves still know His voice. God is seated on His throne. He is sovereign over all, and if He allows the storm in our lives let us respond in faithfulness. Then let us move out from these days as a demonstration and a witness to the power of the Body of Christ. We are not those who run away in times of need, but we run towards it. We serve others. We meet those needs. And as we do that, we give witness to the hope and the promise of the Gospel.”
Please continue to pray with us for our alumni spread throughout this region who are seeking to be that “witness of hope” in word and deed in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. What follows are some updates from alumni in the region. We praise God, as well, that despite some serious flooding in Jacksonville, our staff at the Jacksonville Campus are all safe and have only sustained minor damage to their homes. The Jacksonville Campus will reopen again on Wednesday.
Below you will find a growing list of prayer requests from students, alumni and members of the Gordon-Conwell community impacted by flooding and hurricanes around the globe. Please stand with us by covering them with prayer.
Dennis P. Hollinger, Ph.D.
Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics
Ways to Pray: From the Gordon-Conwell Student and Alumni Community
Check back here for a growing list of prayer requests from Gordon-Conwell students, alumni and friends.
The first week after Irma was hard for many with no power, as well as limited fuel and water challenges. The city is now quickly coming back to life, but it will be some time before things are normal. We had a sweet worship service yesterday and then went out into the community to serve.
–Jim N., Naples, FL (D. Min. ’97)
Despite the inconvenience and discomfort my wife and I were very fortunate. We had a safe refuge and our home had very minimal damage. Thanks be to God. Many are homeless and destitute, however. Our hearts go out to them as will our hands as our church, First Presbyterian of Naples, positions itself to be the hands and feet of Christ through all of this.
–Dan W., Naples, FL (M.Div. '62)
Thanks so much for your prayers. Much needed and much appreciated. It is always nice to know people are praying for you.
–Bill H., Auburndale, FL (MRE, M.Div. ’79)
We just got power, internet and phones back on at our church. Thanks for your prayers and expressions of support. We are okay. My own home had no damage; our church building had some roof damage that is repairable. We are planning on worship services this Sunday. God is good and spared us what could have been much worse!
Thanks for your prayers. My home has no damages. Tree branches down all over my lot. Pray for my neighbors with property damages.
–Benjamin S., Dunedin, FL (M.Div. ’85)
We are fine. We had a little leakage around a few windows but nothing substantial. We are thanking God and praying for those who have lost so much.
Daniel M., Lakeland, FL (MATS ’86)
We faired pretty well through the storm, unlike so many others here in NE Florida, in SW Florida, and especially the Keys. We do appreciate your reaching out and all prayers of the GCTS community, especially now as Florida begins the long recovery process.
- Carlos O., Middleburg, FL (M.Div. ’85)
I have two requests: That my electricity would be restored soon and that God would send helpers to assist with cleaning up the broken branches and tree limbs. I am a disabled person and recovering from my 2 spinal fusion and am limited on what I can do. We relocated for a while but must return home and are still without power. So comes this request for prayer. Thank you.
Update: We returned home yesterday! No damage to my home and the JEA Linemen came about an hour later! We have electricity! So happy right now! Thank you for your email and prayers!
- Melody J (student)
Even though the eye of Irma went right over us, we were spared any damage, and our electricity remained on, unlike many of our neighbors. A huge tree fell in our neighbors' yard and almost our yard…but he was not harmed and his town house is in good shape. Over the years, I have reached out to get to know my neighbors and to share the Gospel with them, and the past few weeks just furthered our connection with many of them.
–Kristin T., Orlando, FL (M.Div. ’06)
We were to be in South Hamilton right now! We were to leave this past Thursday but the airlines canceled our flight due to the fact that there are no planes in Florida right now…Sarah is/was to go on a mission trip to Cuba in October. That's also very questionable right now. The area they were to go has been devastated by the storm.
–Dan (M.Div. ’90) and Sarah B. (MA ’93), Lutz, FL
I was in Texas and almost made it to Houston to support Harvey rescue efforts when I returned home to the Jacksonville, FL area to await Irma. The destruction caused by the storms will pass, but [what] won't is another graduating class from GCTS without the passion of Luther and Loyola in advancing Christ's kingdom. Focus on building leaders up to that task. That's my prayer request!
–Brent E., Yulee, FL (MTS ’77)
By the time Hurricane Irma made it our way, the winds were significantly less than they were in the Caribbean. We had plenty of debris in our yard but no structural damage to our house. All in all we were without electricity for about 88 hours, but spent the majority of that time with dear friends in the area who took in all six of us for the past three days. God is good and still uses his church in wonderful ways!
–Mitchell C., Winter Park, FL (M.Div. ’12, ThM ’13)
We survived the hurricane with no loss of power and only minimal water damage, but many in the surrounding areas close to us lost power and had serious trees falling and flooding. Please continue to pray for these hard hit neighbors.
–Peter R., Jacksonville, FL (MRE ’84)
Thank you for reaching out. We have damage, but nothing too major in Ponte Vedra Beach. Thankful for a caring seminary community.
–Patti A., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (M.Div. ’16)
Ways to Give
- View several opportunities to give in support of global flooding and hurricane relief through Servant Match, by Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) which allows donors to quickly and easily find giving opportunities for participating ECFA accredited organizations.
- View Dr. Sean McDonough's discussion about how Christians can respond to the disruption of natural order.
- View President Hollinger's blog post regarding Hurricane Harvey.
- Mike Distefano, MDiv. '17, shares about Hurricane Harvey's personal impact and why these are the seasons for which the Church was created.