by LCMS World Relief and Human Care
At least 116 people died in a powerful tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., on May 22, tearing into a hospital and leveling neighborhoods, including the homes of four teachers at Martin Luther School. The twister damaged the school and the Immanuel Lutheran Church parsonage.
“The reports that I have received indicate that up to 75 percent of the city of 50,000 has sustained some damage with much of the damage catastrophic,” LCMS Missouri District President Rev. Ray Mirly said in a press release distributed May 23.
“This [devastation] is bad, really bad for such a small city,” said Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, director of Disaster Response, who plans to travel to the southwestern Missouri city on Wednesday, May 25. “The recovery will be more difficult because so much infrastructure has been destroyed.”
LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC) has made available up to $50,000 for disaster response efforts and will be working with the Missouri District through Immanuel Lutheran, Martin Luther School and Rev. Gregory Mech, the church pastor, to meet needs in Joplin, Merritt said.
According to a report from school principal Jeremy Schamber, Immanuel’s teachers and church staff are unharmed. The school year has ended. “Four teachers lost their homes, and a few of our families did too,” Schamber said in an email shared with WR-HC. “I’m still trying to contact school families.”
A report from Mirly indicated that the brother of a Martin Luther School teacher is among the fatalities, which are expected to increase as search and rescue efforts continue.
The twister cut a swath nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through Joplin, according to news reports. Merritt and WR-HC’s Rev. Carlos Hernandez will be on the ground in Joplin “as soon as it is appropriate and safe,” to help assess needs in the congregation and community and offer spiritual care.
Merritt asked for prayers for Joplin families and financial support to help meet urgent needs. “The recent disasters have really depleted already low tornado/flood accounts [for LCMS Disaster Response work],” Merritt said. “This is a huge challenge, but I am confident that the people of the LCMS will respond with caring and compassion to meet the needs.”
To make a gift:
- Mail checks (noting “Tornado Disaster Relief” in the memo line) to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- Call toll-free 888-930-4438.
- To make an online donation, click the “Give Now” button below.
Any funds not needed for this relief effort will be used for other disaster purposes as determined by LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Your gift is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.