Fr. Richard’s reflections on the Carr Fire

Dear Friends in Christ,

We have all been shaken by the Carr Fire afflicting our friends and neighbors in Redding and other communities in the North Valley. Many, if not most of us, have friends and families adversely affected, some of whom have lost their houses and possessions. We are called to continue our prayers for all affected, for first responders and utility workers keeping vital services going. We also pray for our sisters and brothers in Christ, especially those of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, as they respond to the immense needs around them.

As you may know, All Saints’ was within the evacuation zone in Redding. For several days we had no idea whether the building survived or not. By Sunday we had confirmation that it remained standing, while neighborhoods around them were devastated.

Their Interim Rector, the Rev. Carren Shelton, has been indefatigable in reaching out to All Saints’ in diaspora, connecting with them in prayer and mutual support, and planning for the next steps of ministry to their neighborhood and community. I give thanks for her leadership at this critical moment.

As Dean of the Alta California Deanery I have been engaged in a supporting role since early in the crisis. Since Friday I have been engaged in conference calls with Carren, Bishop Beisner, and diocesan and national leaders, including representatives from Episcopal Relief and Development. They have all been of immense help in navigating the situation. Our own experience with hosting a shelter during the Oroville Dam crisis has also informed my input.

I was also very grateful to have worshipped with Carren and a number of the members of All Saints last Sunday when we convened at St. Michael’s, Anderson, for the Eucharist. We shared gratitude for safety, grief for loss, and hopes and fears for what lay ahead. I wish to thank St. Michael’s for their caring hospitality, and the Rev. Charles Cornell for his leadership as celebrant that day.

I also wish to thank Aidan for “winging it” on Sunday in my stead. But in all honesty, Aidan winging it is akin to many others pouring hours and hours over the scripture. 

Many are asking what we at St. John’s can do. Right now the generosity of both the prayers and donations of this congregation already offered stand out as a wonderful contribution. On top of this, our facilities are also being used as a staging point for appropriate supplies coming from diocesan sources. 

In time, as All Saints’ drop-in center develops, some of us may offer a day to attend to the needs of their community. All of our priests and deacons have offered to provide spiritual support in the days and weeks to come.

I also wish to thank all of you here at St. John’s for being supportive of me as I have sought to be of service to our sisters and brothers. 

Mostly I am grateful to our Lord for being present among us, weeping with us, and giving us strength to share in God’s mission amid the tears.

Grace and Peace,