Laity Immersion: Rebuild needs money, time, work and volunteers

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Participants in the November Pacific Northwest laity immersion trip to visit Okanogan County drive through a metal scrap yard/pile to show how much damaged materials were collected after the wildfires of 2014 and 2015.


By Jesse N. Love with Rosalee Mohney

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On November 4-5, PNW Laity visited Pateros, Wash. to listen and learn more about the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes project(s) in order to share their experiences with others in their respective faith communities.

PNW Laity participated in a two-day immersion trip to Okanogan County to continue education, awareness of Rebuild: Up from the Ashes and its support for victims of the Washington Wildfires.

On a chilly morning at Des Moines United Methodist Church, a small group is huddled in a van on its way to partake in a short, but potentially impactful journey. They are lay members of various churches, backgrounds, gifts and talents who have answered the call to visit Okanogan County. This trip will educate these visitors who are on their way to learn more about the rebuild efforts after the 2014 and 2015 Washington Wildfires.

Around 15 people met with key members of the Rebuild community to see first-hand how large wildfires affected the vast amount of land. “This should be a time of education and inspiration, but also frustration and joy,” shares Seattle District Lay Leader, Rosalee Mohney. “It is an opportunity to get acquainted with fellow Methodists and have fun along the way.”

PNW Laity gathered at Pateros UMC and were welcomed by Pastor Earl Lane and the congregation. The immersion group was greeted with radical hospitality through great food and a comforting atmosphere for sharing ideas and learning more about the people of Okanogan County.
PNW Laity gathered at Pateros UMC and were welcomed by Pastor Earl Lane and the congregation. The immersion group was greeted with radical hospitality through great food and a comforting atmosphere for sharing ideas and learning more about the people of Okanogan County.

The Rev. Earl Lane and congregation members of Pateros United Methodist Church provided top-notch hospitality by providing meals and a comfortable space for presentations and meeting times – all while juggling the tasks of hosting its community bazaar.

Barry Hansen serves as the Reconstruction Project Manager of the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes movement.
Barry Hansen serves as the Reconstruction Project Manager of the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes movement.

Helping to guide the journey were Carlene Anders, Executive Director of the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group; Barry Hansen, Reconstruction Project Manager, and Jim Truitt, Early Response Team Coordinator.

Several members of the immersion group expressed that it was a real ‘eye-opener.’ Participants were taken to actual burned-out forests, pastures, and more. Also, the group visited new homes in progress and heard real-life stories of survivors living in a vast region still devastated after two years since the firestorm.

Here are some reactions from participants of this immersion trip:

  • “The need is great. You can make a real difference in people’s lives “locally” by providing housing.”
  • “God works mysteriously in all people around the world. God touched me through the stories heard and of all the people working to help.”
  • “(This trip) has renewed my faith in people, in general. There are an abundant number of caring, selfless people involved in this mission.”
  • “(I’m surprised by) the amazing dedication of local people – reaching out and sustaining their neighbors.”
  • “Giving and helping are what Methodists do. We must exercise this more!”
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Immersion participants visited a home being built, in-progress, that features solar panels and is set in a secluded part of town. Many of those affected by the Washington Wildfires are still living in their own cars and shelters and depend on support from community organizations and faith-based groups.

As winter approaches, weather will have a significant impact on the rebuild effort and more importantly, the people living in this area. The fact is the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes movement cannot thrive without volunteer support. Time, physical work, and funding are needed to help build homes. The laity of The Pacific Northwest Conference is working to drive the Rebuild movement forward by sharing their personal stories and ideas from the frontlines.

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Rosalee Mohney serves as the co-lay leader for the Seattle District.

Through your local church, make a donation through the PNW Conference Advance #352 (PNW Disaster Relief) to help support the rebuild of Okanogan County; 100% of your gift goes to supplies, not administration.

Would you like to participate in future immersion experiences, and/or a presentation on the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes project for your local church? E-mail Seattle District Co-Lay Leader, Rosalee Mohney at rmohney@comcast.net.


Note: This immersion trip was from November 4-5, 2016. A future immersion trip will be announced soon.

Jesse N. Love serves as the graphic designer and print manager for the PNWUMC.

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