By Kay Demos, Michigan Area of The United Methodist Church
Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Flint is one of eight Crossroads District Water Resource Centers distributing testing kits, bottled water, and filtration systems. Pastor Rev. Maurice Horne is running a daily free meal ministry there to further bless neighbors. ~photo courtesy Crossroads District/Peter Plum
The Flint Water Crisis has troubled me deeply and my prayers go out to the people of Flint.
I know many of you share my concerns. In recent weeks, many Michigan United Methodists have asked, “What are we doing? How can we help?” I am thankful we are compassionate people who are always ready to help.
Here is what United Methodists have already been doing in Flint to meet this crisis and how you can help going forward: Last October, when it became public that lead levels were dangerously high in Flint’s water and among Flint’s children, United Methodists in Flint and the surrounding area leapt into action raising money, providing filters, donating bottled water, and reaching out to community members. In November the Crossroads District hired Pete Plum to serve as District Emergency Water Crisis Coordinator.
At my request, a $10,000 UMCOR emergency grant was released to assist the eight United Methodist congregations in Flint to start “Water Resource Centers,” distributing water filters, replacement filters, water testing kits, and educational information to neighborhood residents. I am grateful for the Crossroads District’s response. This is good and important work, but we know it is only an immediate, short-term response.
Flint’s pressing need for a new water infrastructure and the Flint children who face life-long cognitive and behavioral effects of lead poisoning require comprehensive and long-term solutions. We must deal with the systemic issues of racism and poverty that have been part of this complex issue. As United Methodists in Michigan I believe we must be part of those long-term solutions; we must be among those who are first on the scene and last to leave.
For this reason I am calling on all United Methodists in the State of Michigan to respond in the following ways:
All donations for the Flint Water Crisis can be sent to: Detroit Conference Treasurer’s Office 1309 N. Ballenger Hwy, Suite 1 Flint, MI 48504. Checks made payable to “Detroit Conference” with“ #0918 (Crossroads District Water Response)” in the memo line.
We are a generous people and I thank you in advance for your gifts. This appeal is just a beginning. Our work continues. May we, Michigan United Methodists, continue to be a source of hope, a voice for justice, and a presence of compassion.
With you in the work of Christ,
Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey