(Host) Churches across the flood zone are beginning the difficult task of ministering to their members struck by the powerful floods last weekend.
VPR’s Kirk Carapezza reports.
(Plagge) "Why don’t we stand together."
(Carapezza) For an hour on Sunday morning, members of Waterbury’s United Congregational Church have paused their cleanup from Tropical Storm Irene to celebrate their faith.
This much-needed worship service is a chance for them to sing familiar hymns, support each other and rest.
(Plagge) "That’s what we’re about right now. We’re about reminding ourselves that something at the very core of our humanity is calling us here. And it’s not about power; it’s about love."
(Carapezza) That’s Reverend Peter Plagge. He’s the pastor at the white meeting house – the Gothic church that sits atop the town’s highest ground. It’s long been seen as the town’s historical center.
(Plagge) "Our predecessors built it as a place for people in the community, whether you were worshipping there on Sunday morning or not, to do town meeting – to make the business of the town; to work things out; to talk."
(Carapezza) Plagge says if there’s anything he can do as a preacher it’s to help this community work through the catastrophe.
(Pagge) "There’s nothing I’m more passionate about than being clear, theologically and metaphysically, that we don’t need to understand God in this kind of awesome way that makes it impossible for us to understand how we could worship if God caused this all to happen to us."
(Carapezza) Irene hit Waterbury hard.
Sewage-filled water gushed from the Winooski River and washed out an entire neighborhood behind the church. Hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses were ruined.
More than 40 of the church’s 100 members were affected by the flood.
(Kimock) "This is my home and this is my community."
(Carapezza) Anne Kimock sits near the back of the church. She lost her town house and car in the flood. Since then, she says she’s been living minute-to-minute.
(Kimock) "I haven’t had a breakdown yet and I know it’s coming, but I just don’t have time to have that breakdown. The emotions are going to come out and it’s starting to a little bit here today but sometime in the near future I will cry a lot."
(Carapezza) But on this day there’s more singing than crying as the service comes to a close.
With more rain in the forecast, the church members say they’ll continue to pray. Some will pray for the sun to come out to dry the mud and the muck; others will pray for proof that things will get better soon.
For VPR News, I’m Kirk Carapezza in Waterbury.
(Host) Town officials have designated the congregation’s Good Neighbor Fund as the official charity for Waterbury’s recovery. You can find more information here.