Dear Siblings in Christ,
Yesterday the wind was high as I took off from Honolulu to West Coast. We were aware of the presence of Hurricane Dora, as the wind had been high for the last part of our trip. This morning I woke up to hear about the fires on Maui and Hawaiʻi island moving quickly because of the winds, and then the evacuation of the areas around Lahaina. We waited and prayed and reached out to our contacts. Finally, we heard that Pastor John Crewe and his family were safely evacuated from Lahaina to a shelter. Pastor Crewe reached out to District Superintendent (DS) Tom Choi and reported that they were able to get out and are spending time checking on members of the congregation to make sure everyone is safe.
Communication has been sparse because cell phone coverage was out. It appears that the Lahaina United Methodist Church building has also been destroyed. Our biggest concern is that the people of Lahaina, Maui, and Hawaiʻi island are safe, cared for, and surrounded by the love of God’s people.
Also, today we heard from DS Sandy Olewine that there is a fire in our South District, about a half-mile from Ramona UMC. Rev. Kristie Grimaud has reported that all are safely evacuated, and it looks like the fire is getting contained.
On this day, as we hear about fires, evacuations, and deaths, we offer up our prayers for safety and life. We ask for God’s Presence to comfort those who grieve, to give strength to those who are fleeing and those who are rescuing, and to open up a way when it seems there is no way. The people of God and this California-Pacific Conference are praying for you. They will be in action to provide the future resources that love requires of us.
Please pray with me, with us, for these communities who have lost so much on this day. Your prayers, your gifts to UMCOR (www.umcmission.org), and your readiness to bring aide as needed are greatly appreciated.
Information on a Prayer Service and Emergency Meeting for Maui this evening will follow.
God be very near.
Grace y paz,
Bishop Dottie Escobedo-Frank
Resident Bishop of the Los Angeles Area
California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church