Fort McMurray pastors receive encouragement
Samaritan’s Purse making all the right connections to respond to disasters, says pastor
As church leaders from fire-ravaged Fort McMurray AB gathered for a Samaritan’s Purse-funded appreciation lunch in July, a visiting pastor noted how the Christian disaster relief and development organization has improved its response to Canadian disasters.
“Samaritan’s Purse has come a long way in learning how to respond to these types of situations,” said Pastor Tracy Ottenbreitt of Slave Lake Alliance Church. His church partnered with Samaritan’s Purse after Slave Lake was severely damaged by a 2011 wildfire.
“This is the third major [disaster] incident in Alberta and the fact they’re coordinating with churches is crucial—not just for churches, but for the community as a whole.”
Tracy was among four Slave Lake and High River pastors and a grief/trauma expert from Alberta Health Serves who were brought to Fort McMurray for the pastor’s luncheon.
The pastors shared stories from their communities (High River was badly damaged by a 2013 flood) and encouraged Fort McMurray church leaders, whose community faces a long road to recovery.
“I’m just soaking up all this information and taking it back to my ministerial and sharing it with them,” said Tracy. “This is information we didn’t have five years ago and it’s exciting to have it now. I still don’t think it’s too late. There’s a lot of things to pass on to help people [in Slave Lake] understand what they’re still feeling five years later.
“I really think Samaritan’s Purse’s expertise is something that, as a church, you wouldn’t want to do without, especially in a crisis situation. To be able to learn from them and grow with them…I can’t imagine not being a part of that.”
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