Road Trip for Flood Relief

November 17, 2016

Last Friday, we were glad to see the back of Pastor Jason. He was loading up his car and leaving. Why were we happy to see this? Because Jason was doing something that he loves—getting out from behind his desk and serving Christ with his hands and feet. He was driving twenty UMCOR relief buckets to a very special destination in Madison, VA.

When floods hit Louisiana and West Virginia late this summer, the Virginia Conference and UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) swung into action. They made a call to all churches to respond as able, on the theory that if each gave a little then the impact would be huge. Your generous donations brought in over $2000 worth of emergency cleaning supplies, which were duly assembled by Galilee Youth who filled twenty buckets as a service project.

Twenty buckets is great, but we soon heard that the tiny, rural church of Madison UMC (some 80 miles away) had pledged to assemble twenty times that number. Madison UMC had committed to produce 400 buckets, worth $26,000. Pastor Jason, who has a close family connection to Madison, knew that Galilee could help.

Jason Duley loads up twenty relief buckets for the drive.

“Madison is like a second home,” explains Jason. “My parents had a 24 x 24 cabin in the hills of Madison County, which is north of Charlottesville. My father, who was a pastor, used this cabin as both a retreat and a vacation home. Indoor plumbing was installed when I was a kid in the 70s. My parents spent the early years of their retirement there. Madison UMC was their home church. I preached one of my first sermons as a student pastor there. While only 75 people were in the sanctuary, it was still a “big church” to me.”

“In 1995, a storm like you see every hundred years caused severe flooding in the Madison area. My parents were trapped and had to be airlifted out. The mountains no longer show the scars where the deluge wiped out trees, but residents still talk about it. It was all over TV at the time. A high-water bridge on Route 29 was washed out. One of our neighbors took the “ride of a lifetime” in the second story of his farm house as the Rapidan River lifted his house off its stone foundation and floated him about 100 yards downstream. For years following that, Madison UMC helped my parents and their neighbors rebuild and recover.”

“It’s the memory of this tremendous flood that has kept empathy and awareness alive in the hearts of Madison’s congregation. They know what disorientation and destruction do to a community. How appropriate to deliver flood buckets to Madison—even if they won’t be used by the church, but sent on to wherever disaster clean-up is needed next.”

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James and Joe Utz of Madison, VA. Methodists and business partners helping in Jesus’ kingdom service.

In Madison, Jason met up with James and Joe Utz, local church members who are helping with the 400 bucket challenge. After thanking Jason and Galilee for the contribution, James Utz explained how the church arrived at their goal: “Our pastor came up with that crazy figure.  After the sermon, I asked him if he’d done the math on the cost of the contents.”

Jason laughed, “Pastors don’t do math. Well, maybe God’s math.”

Galilee’s flood buckets will help Madison reach their goal of 400 buckets, and they are looking for a whole-sale source for cleaning products to cut the costs back on the rest.  For an active membership of less than 100 people, $26,000 is a very generous commitment indeed!

As Pastor Jason made the return trip, he reflected on what a gift it was to be able to serve Galilee and Madison together.

“As a pastor, I talk for a living. I won’t complain about that—it’s my wheelhouse, as they say. But as a Christian, it’s not my vocal chords but my hands and feet that ache for righteous actions. There actually are not that many “actions” in my workday. I pray, I prepare sermons, I shepherd others, attend meetings, mentor student pastors, lead Bible studies, and—one of my favorites—spend “Chapel Time” with the children at Galilee Christian School.”

“But largely, these are roles I fulfill indoors or in an office. So I am happy to take a road trip, and load/unload the buckets myself on my day off.”

“To do it at Madison, that’s really special. Just 18 months ago, my father’s Memorial Service was held at Madison UMC. I have so many positive memories of Madison. Really, this act of serving is like going home for me.”

“God is good!  When you love what you do, it’s not really work.”