This year Soapstone is taking on another ambitious, service-oriented Christmas Challenge. In 2018, SUMC will be starting a new Emergency and Disaster Response Ministry. The goal of this ministry is to provide aid to those people affected by natural disasters both within our state and across the region. To kick off this new ministry and ensure Soapstone is equipped to mobilize quickly in the aftermath of a disaster, the Christmas Challenge is to raise funds to purchase and stock an Emergency Response Trailer. In addition to serving as a tool for emergency response, this trailer will be utilized by adult and youth mission teams like those who recently served in Tarboro. It will also be available for other construction related assistance like MERCI missions, aiding our elderly or sick congregation members with repairs or wheelchair ramp construction, or in response to a crisis in the community like assisting with clean up after a house fire.

But that’s not all! Purchasing and stocking a tool trailer is only worthwhile if there are hands to use them, so we are also challenging the congregation to sign up for UMCOR’s Emergency Response Team (ERT)      training, truly unifying the giving of our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. An ERT is made up of seven individuals who are trained, prepared, and ready to begin the hard work of emotional                     support and clean up while limiting further damage after a disaster.

In order to respond effectively, UMCOR recommends that each church have, at a minimum, 21 congregation members trained and ready to respond when the call for assistance comes in. As part of this year’s Christmas Challenge, Soapstone will be hosting an UMCOR ERT training event on Saturday, March 3, 8:30 am-5:00 pm. We are asking you, the congregation, to prayerfully consider making a commitment to this new ministry by becoming trained and willing to assist on an Emergency Response Team.

This Christmas season, join us as we raise the money and the manpower to initiate this new ministry. The Missions Committee has set a goal of $7,500.00 to cover the trailer and tools. All additional funds will be placed in a designated fund to cover the cost for sending future Emergency Response Teams and to replace tools and supplies as needed. Thank you for partnering with us as we respond to God’s call to serve our neighbors!