Thank you for checking in!
We are collecting and organizing information about our Unity ministries in the path of hurricanes, wildfires, and other situations. We will be posting updates here as we receive them. Thank you for your generous support of our spiritual communities!
Ministers/spiritual leaders and ministries, send your updates to Bernadette Swanson at BSwanson@unity.org.
Before you send donations: Please read Rev Kelly Isola's article about donating after a disaster. Hierarchy of donations: cash, online donations, check. Some disaster locations may not have postal service or recipients can't get to a bank. Do not send stuff! Some donations of items are not helpful if ministries have no place to store supplies. When in doubt, contact the ministry via email first or by phone.
You can also donate to our Help Unity Grow (HUG) Fund. On our Donate page, under Donor Information, select Other from the Donor's Designation dropdown menu, and type HUG Fund in the Other field. Please note that the HUG Fund is designed to help ministries, not individuals.
We are also collecting articles on preparing for emergencies in your spiritual communities. These are also in the Resources section.
Updates for Hurricane Michael
From Rev. Joanne Burns, CSE, LUT, Senior Minister, Unity Spiritual Center of Panama City, Florida
Unity Spiritual Center of Panama City is grateful for the love and prayers received and donations shared with us. You are a BLESSING! After a week of tracking down congregants we had the news that everyone had survived and was safe.
Our building is in process of multiple inspections and temporary repairs while quotes are being gathered for roof replacement, chapel rebuild, and water damage/remediation. We lost 30-40 trees on our Audubon-awarded lot and have cleared about half that were blocking access or were on the building. Spirit is present and urging us forward into our next level of expression. We had our first Sunday Service on October 28 with about half of our congregation as local communication is still challenging and internet nonexistent.
From Beth Boilott, LUT/Spiritual Leader, Unity of Central Georgia Spiritual Life Center, Byron, Georgia
Thank you for checking in. Our building was not damaged. There was some flooding and power outages for members.
From Rev. Joanne Burns, Unity Spiritual Center of Panama City, Florida
At Unity Spiritual Center of Panama City the building is standing. No broken windows. Many trees snapped with 2 trees leaning on education wing over kids classroom. A tree went through center of gazebo we just renovated for the garden wedding scheduled for Oct 20. So that's another story. Road sign standing but information gone. Roof leaking and wall edges at floor leaking in various places, wet carpet in my office, main office, hallway, sanctuary, teen room and chapel. Chapel outer wall missing shingles in a patch about 5'x12' so a lot of wet carpet there. A few spots on the building have small damage where something flew into building. That's my first report in visiting home and center. We are attempting to connect with as many congregants as possible but local communication is challenging. The town is a mess with all the power lines and trees down. I'll check in when I can.
From Rev. Catherine Klein, Crystal Coast Unity, Atlantic Beach, NC.
Rev. Catherine Klein reports that their recovery is well under way. They had a lot of congregants with a lot of property losses, but no one hurt. They spent a good deal of time on healing. She reports that Spirits are high and Unity principles are helping people through. They are getting lots of help from the community.
From Rev. Mindy Tucker & Rev. Nickie Golden, Unity of Wilmington, N.C.
Thank you for your prayers of strength and comfort. Unity of Wilmington, North Carolina, was blessed to come through Hurricane Florence with very little damage. The church property was an island unto itself in a neighborhood of devastation. A number of very large broken branches clung to tall trees or fell in such a way that they “kissed” our building. Other than removing that debris and losing the contents of a well-stocked refrigerator, we lost our beloved oven due to numerous power surges.
The greater Wilmington community as a whole is working very hard at recovery. There are places the government hasn’t even gotten into yet. Within our Unity community, two homes were completely destroyed, six severely damaged by fallen trees, and dozens more affected by water damage. We are supporting those folks as best we can.
As a spiritual community, we are grateful for your support, as are our fellow Unity communities of Crystal Coast Unity [in Atlantic Beach], who lost portions of their roof and Unity Center of Peace in Chapel Hill whose downstairs rooms were ruined by flooding. Thank you for standing with us in this time of restoration.
Mindy suggested donating to Crystal Coast or Center of Peace or Red Cross.
From Rev. Victoria Loveland-Coen, Unity Center of Peace, Chapel Hill, NC: We were fine during the hurricane itself, but the ensuing flooding caused some problems in our building. We rent out our downstairs to a preschool and that part of our building was flooded. We were fortunate to get a flood mitigation service in right away and they took care of it, and the preschool was back in operation the following week. Our gravel parking lot suffered some damage as well and we'll have to get it resurfaced. All in all, we fared pretty well. In the end the damage will come to around $5,000. Our prayers go out to those in Wilmington, Myrtle Beach and Crystal Coast—and all living in the coastal areas.
Unity of the Triangle, Raleigh, NC:
All is well.
Aug 30, 2018
From Rev Deb Knowles, Unity of Kona, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii:
The Kona side made it thru the hurricane pretty well. The Hilo side & up north & down south got the most Eleanor & wind. Since the volcano stopped erupting we are having some nice weather again in Kona. Still some VOG but nothing like before!
Nov 19, 2018
From Kathy Zavada, spiritual leader of Unity of Oroville, California:
Kathy lost her home in the Camp Fire while away at a retreat. She has set up a fundraiser on her Facebook page. The church is fine, however, to contribute directly to Unity of Oroville and their efforts to assist their congregants, visit their website.
Oct 30, 2018
From Carolyn Warnemuende, Spiritual Leader, Unity Church in Redding, California:
Carolyn thanks everyone for their support in this letter.
Nov 10, 2018
From Allison S. Smith, Ph.D., Spiritual Coordinator, Unity of St. John Virgin Islands
Although it's been a year since St. John in the US Virgin Islands was devastated by hurricane Irma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, closely followed by another category five hurricane Maria, Unity of St. John continues to be deeply involved in the recovery effort that has been underway since September, 2017. The dynamics of a remote island community adapting to sudden, catastrophic change are ongoing and unprecedented, especially when residents live in the disaster area as they recover without resources, including four months without electricity, communication or food, the need now shifting to economic trauma, sociological and psychological concerns.
Unity principles have been invaluable with our positive and practical message and we appreciate your spiritual and financial support in making this possible and for holding us in a prayer consciousness of healing and wholeness as the challenge continues for our weary people. Over the past year, Unity of St. John has provided free services to the island population, helping hundreds with Unity teachings, trauma and spiritual counseling in the field (in houses without roofs!), extensive relief supplies and classes including the “Peace in the Midst of All Things” class, taught outside under a gre gre tree, emphasizing hurricane and sudden change recovery from a spiritual perspective.
Many islanders are still struggling with insurance and FEMA snarls, substandard living conditions, living in tents and under blue tarps, dealing with PTSD, repairs, unemployment, homelessness, and hopelessness. Our hotels and resorts are still closed, schools are unrepaired and our infrastructure is overwhelmed. BBC, a company of lineman who have been replacing every power pole on the island, are still here. It has been an experience of persistence, tenacity, and faith that continues to this day.
So many thanks for sharing our story and our gratitude to our Unity family.
"I Want to Give" Rev Kelly Isola is a Disaster Response/Recovery Chaplain, with lots of education, training and certifications from FEMA. Her blog is on how to donate and volunteer because "so many don't know what to do or how to organize and often people start doing their own thing and forget to connect with the larger network." In our desire to help, we sometimes become part of the problem of overwhelming the recipients.
Crisis Preparation. Tragedies invite us to be aware and consider how we can best create a space of safety in our ministries. This article from Thom Rainer may help you to think into this.
Protecting Your Congregation. An article from Christianity Today has advice for ministry leaders in protecting your spiritual community from a gunman.