Three congregations of the Lutheran Church in the Phillipines (LCP), a partner church with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, are in the area hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan, which tore through the country Friday, Nov. 8 and is one of the strongest storms ever recorded. At least one of those congregations is reported to have significant damage.
More than 10,000 people are feared dead and thousands more have lost their homes in the wake of the typhoon — also known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda.
A boy walks past the devastation from powerful Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban city, in Leyte province in central Philippines. Rescuers in the central Philippines initially counted at least 100 people dead and many more injured a day after one of the most powerful typhoons on record hit the region Nov. 8, wiping away buildings and leveling seaside homes with massive storm surges. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
The Rev. James Cerdeñola, president of the LCP, reported, “We have three congregations in the areas worst hit by the storm. One is in Mahayag, Albuera, Leyte (a coastal town), and the pastor, the Rev. Xavier James Palattao, told me that almost all houses in his area including those of our members are either totally destroyed or significantly damaged by Yolanda’s winds. The church building and the parsonage were not spared.”
Area Lutherans also have lost crops and livestock.
“Our human-care department, the Mindanao District officers, together with our ALERT team (Active Lutherans Emergency Response Team) are working hard to bring about relief and comfort to the victims,” Cerdeñola wrote in an email.
Following reports from LCP leaders, the LCMS pledged to make available to the LCP up to $100,000 for immediate typhoon relief that will be used to provide food, water, shelter, clothing and medical care for those affected. The LCMS also is offering to match up to $50,000 for donations gathered by member churches of the International Lutheran Council, of which both the LCMS and the LCP are members.
At the request of Cerdeñola, a team of LCMS disaster-response ministry leaders tentatively plans to travel to the Philippines as early as Tuesday, Nov. 12, to help assess the situation and begin planning the long-term recovery process with members of the LCP. So far, assessments have been hampered by damage to the lines of transportation and communication.
The team from the LCMS will include the Rev. Glenn Merritt, director of LCMS Disaster Response; the Rev. Ross Johnson, co-director of LCMS Disaster Response; the Rev. Steven Schave, associate executive director of the Office of International Mission; Deaconess Pamela Nielsen, associate executive director of LCMS Communications; and Rick Steenbock, an LCMS missionary communications specialist based in Germany.
“After hearing of the ‘largest typhoon’ in recorded history and a report from the president of our partner, the Lutheran Church of the Philippines (LCP), that at least three congregations as well as the homes of pastors and church members would need to be rebuilt, the LCMS is engaging its mercy response to find the best way to assist,” said the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the LCMS.
“These funds will provide some immediate relief, and I am deeply grateful to our generous donors for making this grant possible,” Harrison continued.
After leaving the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan traveled westward toward Vietnam