The strength of South Georgia



One year ago, on October 10, Hurricane Michael came ashore as a Category 5 storm, devastating Mexico Beach and parts of Panama City, Fla. Then Michael moved northward into the South Georgia Conference. The Southwest District and surrounding region were especially hard hit. The storm was so strong that the World Meteorological Society has decided to retire the name Michael so that no future Atlantic hurricane can have that name.

In South Georgia, we are well aware of the magnitude of Michael’s destruction. We have seen it in the huge numbers of trees sheared in half, in the homes and businesses damaged or blown away, in church buildings that are still facing costly repairs, in the crop losses to our farmers, and in the emotional drain experienced by our church members and communities. 

On this first anniversary of Hurricane Michael, let us also remember the way our churches, our communities, and our connectional system responded to our losses. Funds for disaster response were sent to South Georgia by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) as well as annual conferences and individuals from around the connectional system of The United Methodist Church. As quickly as they could, our church members got out in their communities to check on those who had mobility issues or disabling conditions. Early Response Teams (ERT) from local churches, both inside and outside South Georgia, came to our communities to work in debris removal and in the overall clean up effort. The members of our local churches really are the great strength of the South Georgia Conference. We see that strength on a daily basis as our church members continue serving others while dealing with their own hardships caused by Hurricane Michael. 

How grateful I am to the disaster response ministry of the South Georgia Conference and to all who worked together to coordinate our disaster response. And how inspired I am by the resilience and perseverance of local United Methodists who are leading their communities forward as the long-term recovery continues. The strength of the South Georgia Conference is seen in the faithfulness of our church members. In the face of a catastrophic hurricane, you are showing us what it means to be Alive Together in Witness! 

R. Lawson Bryan