By Marilyn Church | Images courtesy of Jesse N. Love, Wikipedia*
“In 2015, Conconully was evacuated for a week; the fires never came into the town proper, but came to the edge of town, to the lake’s edge, and then spread through the valley towards Omak, southeast of Conconully. Many power poles burned and fell leaving several people in the valley without power, including myself.”
Reconstruction Project Manager for
the Rebuild Up from the Ashes project
and member of the Conconully UMC
It’s easy for a church to get active in a benevolence project when only a favorable wind shift and lots of garden hose kept its community from being destroyed during the 2015 Okanogan Complex fires.
Our congregation at Conconully UMC began by including an “Up From the Ashes” line item of $2,000 in our 2017 budget plan. This action was based on three mutually-held expectations:
1) An annual budget is a working plan for use of God’s gifts
2) Tithing practices can apply to churches as well as members
3) Benevolences are too important to be funded by leftover cash at the end of the year.
The contribution was expected to be made up of a redirection of $1,000 no longer needed for another project and a dedication of all funds earned by our Spiritcrafters’ booths in five community event-related bazaars.
We wished we could host a banquet spotlighting how those without resources to rebuild could “go home again,” but the Church lacked both space and service capacity.
So the town’s three restaurants willingly set aside four hours on a Sunday afternoon to get the message out. We trained teams to work each site, advertised “Drive UP, Eat UP, Build UP,” and were surprised when the effort yielded an additional $1,000+. People donated generously, thanking us for giving them an opportunity to help.
After we made our personal offerings to the project, we had raised $4,000 in Conconully (with its population of 210) led by the town’s only church (with its average Sunday attendance of 35).
The Rebuild: Up from the Ashes Project continues to bring hope and stability to families that were devastated by the historic fires primarily in Okanogan County. There are teams at work this summer; however, more teams are being asked for to continue the work. The goal is to have six new homes started this summer to get framed in, roofs and siding on before inclement weather begins. If you, your church, friends and neighbors are interested in forming an UMVIM Team (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission), please contact Rosalee Mohney, Wildfires UMVIM Coordinator), for additional information. Your help, gifts and talents are appreciated more than you will ever know. Donations of money can be directed to the Rebuild through your local church; please add “Advance #352 – Rebuild” in the memo line.
Marilyn Church and her husband, Dick, are retired and have lived in Conconully for 30 years. Special thanks to Rosalee Mohney.