Restoring Worship in Neon
by Trish Duggan, OPC Disaster Response Communications Coordinator
It’s been two weeks since six-and-a-half feet of water ravaged Neon Reformed OPC. Even though much has been accomplished in the these 14 days, the first phase is just now ending. The dehumidifiers in the church are collecting in excess of 75 gallons of water per day! Your prayers, inquiries and donations have encouraged the Neon Reformed OPC congregation‑and the community! The OPC Disaster Response Facebook page has received comments from over 80 churches who are bringing Neon before the throne of grace. The Lord hears your prayers and is strengthening the community in Neon, even in this disaster!
Disaster Oversight Committee Established
The NDOC (Neon Disaster Oversight Committee) met Monday to discuss progress and next steps in the disaster effort in Neon. As with any Presbytery or Denomination-wide disaster effort, a committee oversees the progress, lends expertise, and makes a way forward.
The committee consists of a coordinator, in this case Landis OPC, Marion, NC, elder Mike Cloy; local session members, elder Seth Long, Lacy Andrews, Hank Belfield and pastor Jay Bennett. The Presbytery of the Southeast also provided Shiloh OPC, Raleigh, NC, deacon Tim Hopper. Professional expertise in flood remediation is given by Covenant OPC, New Bern, NC member, Jim Flanagan, who serves as disaster response advisor. OPC Disaster Response Coordinator, David Nakhla serves as the denomination’s representative, lending his more than fifteen years of experience. By the grace of God, there is a lot of capability on this committee.
As Mike Cloy, elder at Landis OPC, Marion, NC and Neon Disaster Response coordinator reminded us during the meeting, “This is the worst flooding event of an OP church buildling since Hurricane Harvey, back in 2017. Our goal is to restore worship,“ and that’s just what the committee prays and plans for, “that the doors of the church will open again. The OPC needs Neon!” Cloy encouraged us to pray that the OPC represents well during this effort, especially the churches in the Presbytery of the Southeast!
Update on the Work
The mucking, gutting, and sanitizing of the church building is now complete. While it continues to dry out, teams will be used to help the community. Representatives from Neon Reformed OPC are assessing the homes of neighbors and friends of the church, hoping to help when and where our teams are able. Teams have already been scheduled to tear out floor and provide dehumidifiers to a friend of the church. NROPC shares a wall with the Neon Public Library. Although their damage was not as extensive as the NROPC, if not addressed quickly, may compromise the church restoration. Elder Seth Long was able to get permission to use our crews to assist in the mucking and gutting of the library, which helps both the town of Neon and our effort. The Lord has been working to witness through His church in Neon.
The Local Church
Neon Reformed OPC member, Reuben Long continues to serve as the cleanup site coordinator, a temporary role, until a permanent SC can be obtained. It’s a dirty job, but Reuben happily jumped in to serve. Working in conjunction with Jane Robinson, our volunteer coordinator, Andrea Bennett, Pastor Jay’s wife has agreed to coordinate hospitality for the Neon effort. She will arrange meals and lodging, as necessary. In addition to housing right above the church facility, recreational vehicle spots are available at Fishpond Lake, a park about ten minutes from the church building. The town has offered these spots at no charge—yet another blessing. During the dry out period, the Neon session is carefully assessing the circumstances of the flood prior to to investing in the rebuild effort. The preference would be to rebuild, as their congregation has served as an anchor in this town for many years. Rebuilding would require additional precautions to prevent future flooding.
As many of you know, Pastor Jay Bennett’s first floor study was also flooded, destroying a large portion of his books. Right now, Pastor Bennett is focusing on ministering to his church and the community, but because of the inquiries received focused this loss, he is planning, as he is able, to create a list of the books, and is thankful for the love and concern. Tim Hopper, Chair of the PSE Diaconal Committee is working to identify for us a “Pastor Bennett Library Coordinator”. This person will be the single point of contact to work with Pastor Bennett to identify what books were destroyed and to receive donations toward recovering Pastor Bennett’s library. Stayed tuned for more information about that effort!
Prayer and Praise
Please continue to pray for the community of Neon, the church members, the session of Neon Reformed OPC as they continue to make decisions, and for God to provide a permanent site coordinator.
Join us in giving thanks that help has come in many other forms. Mission to North American Disaster Response (PCA) lent us a muck-out trailer and stand-up dozer. MNA Disaster Response delivered equipment to Neon for our use, acknowledging that it belongs to the Lord’s, and to use it as you need to, they told elder Seth Long. OPC Disaster Response and MNA Disaster Response have a long history of helping one another. We praise the Lord for this relationship.
We are thankful to Jean Withnell, member of Bethel OPC, Leesburg, Virginia who delivered 50 Trinity Hymnals in time for worship this past Sunday. Worship was held at the Eiola Baptist Church building, generously offered to the Neon church to use each Sunday from 1-4 PM.
The town plans to dredge under bridges and culverts to prevent future flooding. This is an essential part of the flood-prevention effort. Please pray this begins soon.
Shiloh OPC, Raleigh, North Carolina has purchased a computer for Neon Reformed OPC to aid them as they walk through this crisis.
OPC Disaster Response has received $33,806 in generous donations in just ten days! Thank you for your generous gifts. The effort in Neon is projected to go on for at least six months, and donations are very much appreciated.
Keep up with the effort in Neon by visiting the OPC Disaster Response website: OPCDisasterResponse.org. If you or your church would like to contribute toward this effort, visit give.opc.org. We are in desperate need of volunteers for the next month to help with mucking out. If you would like to volunteer, contact volunteer coordinator, Jane Robinson: [email protected].