From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
PRESBYTERIANS QUICK TO SUPPLY AID TO OKLAHOMA CITY
05 May 1996 12:56:55
95133 PRESBYTERIANS QUICK TO SUPPLY AID TO OKLAHOMA CITY
by Alexa Smith
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Ten thousand dollars from the One Great Hour of Sharing
Offering has been sent to Oklahoma City in support of long-term disaster
recovery work there, according to Stan Hankins, Presbyterian World Service
associate for disaster response in the United States.
The money will be dispersed as part of a $200,000 Church World Service
(CWS) appeal and it will be used for direct victim assistance such as:
* accounts for families in local banks, including children who are now
* accounts for wage earners who are now, temporarily or otherwise,
unemployed due to the bombing
* grants for counseling or relocation.
"What we are talking about is massive spiritual crisis, and it's going
to require both short- and long-term counseling. In human-caused
disasters, you're talking about years," said Presbyterian elder Bob Arnold,
associate director of CWS in New York City.
Arnold said numbers of people living and working within a half-mile
area of the April 19 blast at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building are now
temporarily unemployed and at least 200 are temporarily homeless.
"Virtually all the buildings are heavily damaged and may even be
beyond repair ... some have permanently lost homes," he said, adding that
some companies may close down or relocate businesses rather than rebuild or
Peggy Garrett-Selfridge, who directs a Presbyterian urban mission just
blocks from the bomb site, says Oklahoma City's downtown looks like a war
"It takes your breath away," she said. "It doesn't seem real."
The mission itself -- built in 1910 -- is being assessed for
structural damage now, and its stained-glass rose window is broken and
cracked. Garrett-Selfridge said the mission is picking up the client load
of another damaged downtown agency and continuing to do its everyday work
dispensing social services among the inner-city poor.
"It's going to take a long time to get even a semblance of order
back," Garrett-Selfridge told the Presbyterian News Service. "It's hit us
in the heart, that's for sure. ... You can't drive down a street without
seeing every car with headlights on; that's become our symbol of mourning."
Two CWS disaster specialists are in Oklahoma City: the Rev. Peter Van
Hook of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Lorna Jarrett of Okmulgee, Okla. An
interfaith disaster response team met for the first time April 24 to begin
organizing for long-term support of both victims and care providers.
"There are going to be a lot of unmet needs," said Arnold, speaking of
Oklahoma City over the long haul. "And those needs not met by private and
public agencies ... the churches will attempt to meet."
Arnold said that will include not only financial help, but help
filling out forms and advocacy.
Garrett-Selfridge said the Presbyterian mission center is serving as a
clearinghouse for volunteers and as a drop-off site for donations. But the
focus now, she said, is on caring for rescue workers and for families
"There has been an amazing outpouring of support from across the
country, even the world," she said, noting such violence could pull a
community apart. "But this has been a real pulling together."
Van Hook agrees. "This is a very strong city. People come together
well. They talk about things. ... People haven't gotten to the anger stage
yet," he said. "They got through denial quickly. ... Now, they're
Presbyterian World Service has set up a relief account: Oklahoma City
Bombing, #9-2000120, 100 Witherspoon St., Louisville, KY 40202-1396.
Indian Nations Presbytery has also set up an account for relief work at
1001 Northwest 25th St., Suite 206, Oklahoma City, OK 73106-5666.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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