Photo Credit: Anglican (Episcopal) Diocese of The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Churches in the Bahamas are helping feed hundreds of people left with nothing after their homes were swept away last month in Hurricane Dorian.
A report from the Bishop of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Island, Laish Boyd, has catalogued the damage to churches, church properties and their members and also reveals how many churches are continuing to provide a lifeline to communities.
Shortly after the hurricane struck, the Bishop encouraged his clergy and congregations to reach out to those in need around them.
In a pastoral letter to the churches he wrote: “Plan to take a relative, a friend or some other person from the affected islands into your home if they need it. The destruction on the ground and the devastation of the terrain and the economy make it impossible for those areas to sustain the current population … We have to take them into our homes and hearts and help them over this crisis period.”
The report states that more than 100 church members from across Abaco and Grand Bahamas lost everything, with their homes completely destroyed. Some lost family members and many churches were flooded and structurally damaged by the storm.
Despite the devastation hundreds of people are being given shelter in church properties or receiving food from church feeding programmes.
St Jude’s Church, Smith Point on Grand Bahama, where 39 families lost their homes, has a programme that is feeding 500 people each day from across the community and another church has housed relief workers in its parish hall since the hurricane and is delivering supplies and cooked food to people in the surrounding area.
At Ascension Church in Lucaya on Grand Bahama, where 25 members lost everything, the church sheltered 400 people in their parish hall and continues to shelter people who lost their homes. Their feeding program serves 400 people each day. Another church has a programme that feeds 400 people daily and delivers food and goods to people’s homes. In Freeport, at Christ The King Church, which was completely flooded, the parish feeds about 1,000 people every day from across the community.
According to the Anglican Alliance Disaster Response and Resilience Manager,
Dr Janice Proud, the Anglican church in the Bahamas is an important part of the community and has played a vital role in Hurricane Dorian struck the islands of Grand Bahamas and Abaco. She said: “From the first Sunday, Anglican service were held, even if the church was damaged, to allow people to come together and worship, as they would normally.”
She said although the Anglican Alliance supports the humanitarian needs after a disaster such as Hurricane Dorian, they were not able to support the repair and reconstruction needed to churches and other church property, despite their crucial role in community recovery. The Appeal by the Anglican Church of the Bahamas will help those affected and help re-build churches which continue to operate as community hubs, helping distribute food and offering shelter.
Donations to the Diocese’s Hurricane Appeal can be made a Go Fund Me account here