We continue to monitor the effects of the recent tornadoes in Pella, Marshalltown, and Bondurant. While there is not an ELCA congregation in Bondurant, we are mindful of the extensive damage there.
We have one congregation in Pella, Peace Lutheran Church, served by Pastor Chad Brown. There are three congregations in Marshalltown; Trinity, Elim, and Our Savior. Pastor Gregg Davison serves at Trinity, Pastor Mike Hershberger serves at Our Savior, and Elim is currently in transition without a called pastor.
The storm in Pella affected mostly the Vermeer plant, which is near Peace Lutheran Church. There was no damage to the church and folks there are waiting to see if there are ways they can be of assistance with recovery at the plant. A number of members from Peace are employed at Vermeer.
The hardest hit areas in Marshalltown were the downtown and the northeast side of town. Elim Lutheran Church was closest to the path of the tornado which traveled a block north of the church. There is minor damage to the property, including trees down and several members were affected by the storm. Services were canceled on Sunday due to a power outage, but power was restored as of Monday morning.
The House of Compassion which ministers to people in need sustained damage which required it to be shut down until it can be determined if the building is safe for occupancy.
The facilities at Our Savior Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran Church were not damaged, though some members of the congregations experienced damage to homes and vehicles. Pastor Gregg Davison says, “No newspaper picture or Facebook post can capture the scope of the destruction. It is devastating.” He adds that the Red Cross is assisting with housing displaced people, but the motels are full and the YMCA is housing people on cots. A number of business owners are members of Trinity and none of them can be open for business.
Pastors Davison and Herschberger both share that people in Marshalltown are grateful that there was no loss of life and are now rolling up their sleeves to assist where help is needed, asking who needs what and what to do next. The initial shock is waning and people are now into the recovery mode. The mood seems to be “We will get through this.”
Pastor Davison reported that Trinity immediately opened its building to the community as a safe place to go and especially as a place for people who had lost power to charge their cell phones and other electronic devices.
Pastor Herschberger tells of assisting a member who is an attorney with a downtown office secure confidential files and other materials.
A common concern voiced is about damage to the Lennox plant, as well as to JBS Swift & Company. Together they employ about 3,000 workers who could be without paychecks, at least temporarily.
The Iowa arm of Lutheran Disaster Response will be exploring community needs and preparing to release funds to assist with unmet needs.
While we are increasingly aware of the impact on particular members of ELCA congregations (named above), if you know of people in other areas that were directly impacted but who belong to an ELCA congregation in another community, please contact the Office of the Bishop.