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Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

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Pastor's Reflections

The Monday after the flooding in the Keweenaw, Bishop Katherine Finegan called me and said that an effort was underway to gather food, water and other supplies to be delivered to the Copper Country. Could Bethany be the area drop off site? “Maybe you could just set a table in the narthex and hopefully the word will get out and we’ll get enough to fill it.”

Twenty-four hours later, here’s what the narthex looked like:

Keweenaw relief donations

Needless to say, the table was full…and then some! All day long on Tuesday people arrived, some with large amounts, some with smaller amounts. One woman came all the way from Petoskey saying that she used to live in the Keweenaw and still knows lots of people up there and she just wanted to do something. The original plan was for one woman to come with her car at 5 o’clock on Tuesday and take what had been collected up to Houghton. Instead, at the end of the day on Tuesday it required several car and truck loads, some made the trip on Tuesday night, some on Wednesday. All in all, it was tremendous outpouring of generosity on very short notice, a positive response to a difficult situation.

The flooding and damage that occurred are the kind of thing that we expect to happen to other parts of the country. We get 200 inches of snow and people say, “At least we don’t have floods and fires and tornadoes like they do in other places.” This time though, such a thing did happen to us. The UP even made the national news, which doesn’t happen very often.

When natural disasters occur, especially when they involve loss of life which sadly this one did, a question that often comes up is, “How could God let this happen?” It’s a variation of the “Why do bad things happen to good people?” question, to which there is really no one answer that adequately satisfies every situation. I’m not going to try and answer it here either, other than to say that unfortunately, tragic events almost seem to be necessary as a means of reminding us of how good we can be. As has been the case with the flooding in the Copper Country, the response in the face of such events winds up being a “love thy neighbor” response as people make sacrifices to help those in need. The faith community is always a big part of it.

One of the quotes I wind up going back to (and I’m not sure who first said it) is, “Everything that happens is not God’s will, but God has a will in everything that happens.” Rather than to question “Why?” we do better to ask what God would have our response be. As we answer that, the love of God is enacted through the love of the neighbor in the midst of the tragedy. Rather than to question God, we do better to question ourselves and ask, “Why does it take a disaster to cause us to be who God would have us be? Why aren’t we like that all the time?” As we answer that, we can perhaps keep in mind that there are always people in need, it’s not just when disaster strikes.

No one can do it alone but that’s where the church comes in. Together…as individuals, as churches and as a synod…we can do quite a lot!

In closing I would like to thank the Bethany folks who were present all day on Tuesday welcoming people and helping them unload donated items. Also thanks to those who came on Tuesday and Wednesday to help load cars and trucks for delivery. Finally, thanks to all those who contributed food, water, supplies and/or money. The need won’t end right away, so together we’ll stay tuned for future opportunities to help.

Pastor Geier



Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor

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