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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:

Yesterday, tornadoes struck and devastated the small town of Pilger, Neb., killing two, including a 5-year-old child, and injuring more than two dozen, many critically.

In addition to laying waste to nearly the entire town, the storms destroyed the building of our congregation, St. John Lutheran, and the home of its pastor, the Rev. Terry Makelin. Numerous homes of LCMS members also were damaged or destroyed. By God’s divine providence, Rev. Makelin and his family were not home at the time and are safe, and no LCMS members were seriously injured. Still, we grieve for all, Lutherans and non-Lutherans alike, who were affected.

The long-term recovery for Pilger’s residents will be greatly aided when St. John Lutheran and its members, under the leadership of Rev. Makelin, are restored to service and able to effectively act as a center of Christ’s mercy and compassion for their neighbors. Meeting the additional and specific human-care needs of those affected depends largely on the amount of disaster-relief funds not already committed to other relief and recovery efforts, such as those underway in our LCMS Southern and Rocky Mountain districts.

LCMS Disaster Response already is moving to assist St. John, the congregations in surrounding communities and especially the Nebraska District Disaster Response Team in identifying specific local needs and a strategy for long-term recovery. The Synod is making an initial $100,000 in available disaster fund donations to the Nebraska District to aid in responding to the needs of St. John’s and the surrounding communities. Updates will be provided via the Synod’s website and social-media channels.

Because Jesus freely gave Himself up for the sake of all of us, we urgently appeal to you — as His body — for special gifts to help in this relief effort. We appeal to you for prayers on behalf of all those who are hurting today and facing the long road to recovery.

To learn about LCMS Disaster Response, visitlcms.org/disaster.

To make a gift to support the Synod’s relief and recovery efforts:

  • Mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster Relief”) to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
  • Call toll-free 888-930-4438 (8:10 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday).
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