Southeastern Synod - Staff Announcement from Bishop Strickland

February 22, 2021

February 22, 2021

STAFF ANNOUNCEMENT FROM BISHOP STRICKLAND 

Dear friends in Christ,

Our synod is no stranger to natural disasters. We know all too well; it is not “if” a disaster happens, but “when”. For many years, we have been a leading synod within the ELCA in the area of disaster preparedness and response. Our synod is second to the largest synod in the ELCA spanning 4 states comprising of MS, AL, GA, TN. Containing over 160 congregations spread out in clusters and many in long distances from one another. In addition to our size and scattered population of congregations, we also have these other challenges:

  • Very different areas and risks – geographically diverse; lowlands, flooding risk with rivers, tributaries; hurricanes on coastlands Gulf Coast and East Coast Atlantic; earthquake risk; tornadoes throughout the four states, we have even had wildfires in our forests.
  • We are a high disaster occurrence synod - we need to develop capacity for preparedness, response and mitigation in four states. According to FEMA, in 2019-2020 alone we have had 30 emergency or federally declared disasters within our synod territory.
  • Each state has different statewide organizations / VOADs making development of statewide presence and leadership essential. Some states have multiple VOADs due to their size and location.

 
We have multiple Full Communion Partner judicatories spread across the four states requiring increased staff time to foster and develop relationships and partnerships for disaster response.

  • Methodist - 8 Conferences
  • Episcopal - 8 Dioceses
  • Presbyterian - 6 Presbyteries
  • United Church of Christ - 1 conference

We have one social ministry organization present in two states with limited capacity, none in the other two states making it necessary to partner with local community agencies and LTRC for coordinated disaster response.

We have a higher number of people living in poverty, vulnerable communities - Georgia 13.3 % ranking 39th; Alabama 15.5% ranking 45th; Tennessee 13.9% ranking 42nd; and Mississippi 19.6% living in poverty ranking 51st in the nation. The poverty density in our synod compounds the impact of disasters on the most vulnerable in our communities.

Due to all these factors a full-time staff person dedicated to this work is needed. This position would help develop the partnerships, resources and capacity to respond to disasters throughout the synod and help interface with the ELCA and other organizations.

Through a 3-year grant from ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response and our Strategic Initiative Fund, I am pleased to announce that The Rev. Dr. P. Morgan Gordy has been called to serve as Assistant to the Bishop for Disaster Ministry. Pastor Gordy will begin this work with us on April 12, 2021.

(Click here to read Pr. Morgan Gordy's bio.)

We give thanks for her willingness to say yes to this call and walking with us as a synod in this important work. We also pray for Christ Lutheran of Nashville, TN, where she will be leaving as their pastor.

Join me in welcoming Pastor Gordy to our synod staff.

+Bishop Kevin L. Strickland