SEATTLE, WA (April 2, 2014) — Several congregations here have established a combined special fund so people can contribute to relief and rebuilding work in the area of Oso, where a massive mudslide wiped out a neighborhood on the morning of March 22.
A website called Churches Together for Oso Relief has been set up where people can donate. Several Covenant congregations are participating in the ecumenical effort.
Eugene Cho, pastor of Covenant congregation Quest Church, said organizers hope to raise $100,000. The money would be distributed through churches in the Oso area.
“We want to come alongside local leaders because they know their context and community better than we ever can,” Cho said in a blog post. “These churches, congregations, and leaders will remain…when the attention dissipates to another story.”
Arlington United Church, a congregation dually affiliated with the Covenant and the United Methodist Church, is located about 10 miles away and will act as the funding agent for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which has promised $10,000, says pastor Deena Jones.
Some of the money will be used to help with funeral expenses, counseling, spiritual care, or other long-term needs, Jones says.
No United Church members were injured in the mudslide, but everyone in the small community knows someone who has been impacted by the tragedy, Jessica Ronhaar, the congregation’s director of family ministry said last week. Several members of the church are first-responders who have continued to search for bodies in the one-square mile of debris.
As of this afternoon, the Snohomish County medical examiner’s office had listed the death toll at 28. Twenty people still are missing.
At a community prayer service held at the church last week, Ronhaar prayed, “We confess that we are confused. Our emotions are high and our answers are few.” She added, “We pray that your hand of mercy and of peace will be on our communities now.”
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer observed today that, “From a vantage point about a mile from the collapsed hillside, the magnitude of the slide is chilling, even if only a part of it can be seen. Where there was a state highway, there’s now a bed of mud and debris as much as 80 feet deep in some spots. There are few signs that a community existed here, replaced now by a field of debris of hundreds of acres.”
To contribute to the fund, click here.