Looking Back: Flooding and Fruitful Service

This is the third of three articles from a Disaster Relief feature spread in our Fall 2020 BaptistLIFE magazine.

Disasters can strike anytime, anywhere, and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Disaster Relief (DR) brings help, healing, and hope to individuals and communities affected by disasters, large and small.

The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) partners with national, state, and local ministries to support churches seeking to minister to their neighbors in times of crisis.

Fruit from DR, however, doesn’t always mature overnight. Sometimes it takes weeks, months, years, or even decades. It often takes a long look back to see God’s hand at work in the midst of a crisis. Yet DR volunteers continue to serve with humility and joy, confident in God’s promise. “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV). – Ellen Udovich

Double Disasters
The devastating images of Ellicott City’s 2016 flood caused many to gasp as they saw cars, with people in them, float down streets and brave volunteers form human chains to make heroic rescues. Six inches of rain in two to three hours induced flash flooding and severe damage to the historic city, taking the lives of two, and causing significant damage to homes and buildings.

The Ellicott City community reeled following a historic flood (photo submitted).

Metanoia Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, was a major player in supporting people seeking help. Lead Pastor Adam Feldman and Ken Cavey, the senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, walked the streets after the water receded, sharing with residents, business owners, and first responders, and relief workers, offering coffee, praying with them, crying with them, and encouraging them.

Working with SBC DR, Metanoia quickly networked with other local, state, and federal organizations to provide immediate and long-term relief and recovery. In fact, Metanoia became a respected leader in these efforts. Jesse Florida, a staff pastor working alongside Feldman at Metanoia, became a temporary part-time liaison with the county, state, and other relief agencies, with funding from the BCM/D.

Metanoia helped to coordinate a united thanksgiving and praise service at a local Catholic church, which brought the faith, local government, and disaster relief workers together to offer thanks to God for helping them persevere through the difficult season.

Feldman eventually received a Governor’s Citation for the work the church did in helping the community.

Then came the flood of 2018, with eight inches of rain in six hours. Though aghast at the situation, Metanoia was ready. Below, Feldman shares about how God used the 2016 flood to prepare them for the 2018 disaster. – Sharon Mager

Practical Fruit
The 2016 flood in Ellicott City – where our church gathers for worship – was devastating to our community and to our church.

We had no idea what to do, where to start, or how to go about doing it. The task and the need were overwhelming! SBC DR was a source of strength and guidance that helped us mobilize members of our church and other churches in the area to meet immediate relief needs.

Deputy Executive Director at Maryland Emergency Management Agency presents Metanoia Church’s Lead Pastor Adam Feldman (left) a government citation, recognizing the church’s help with hands-on clean-up following the flood and with organizing volunteers. Eby told Feldman, “Even at the state level, we still talk about your work with One EC Recovery Project” (photo by Sharon Mager).

When I think about the long-term fruit from our disaster relief efforts with DR, the real, practical fruit of learning disaster relief skills comes to mind. A second flood hit Ellicott City in 2018. This time the flood-affected not only Ellicott City but also neighboring Catonsville where the majority of our church members live. In fact, three families – my own family included – suffered from flooded basements. The flood also caused significant sewage backups in Catonsville and in western Baltimore.

Because this flood-affected such a large area, multiple churches called upon DR to help their communities. The disaster relief skills that DR taught members of our church in 2016 came into play in 2018 as we assisted our church members and their neighbors in recovering from the flood. DR was right there to provide us with resources, prayer support, and volunteers to come alongside our relief efforts.

As tragic as it was to face two floods in two years, we were able to help many more people during the 2018 flood because we were trained and prepared for the relief skills necessary to help victims of the disaster. God provided opportunities in 2018 for us to pray with our neighbors as we assisted them with their disaster relief needs. We also connected more deeply with churches in the BCM/D network as we worked together to bring physical and spiritual relief to Ellicott City, Catonsville, and Baltimore. – Adam Feldman

Cover photo submitted by Metanoia Church 

Ellen Udovich serves as a BCM/D church services and community engagement consultant.