On January 14, 2013, a article ran on ngumc.org about Bethel UMC in Atlanta’s desire to travel to New York to assist those affected by Hurricane Sandy (read it here). The church could not go in November, as the area was not accepting teams at that time. Instead, Bethel assembled 26 flood buckets for the effort.
When the article was published, it caught the eye of Rev. Michael Dunbar, pastor of New Covenant UMC, who knew the pastor at Bethel, Rev. Dr. Michael Stinson. Dunbar called Stinson, “Mike, this is Mike. You still want to go to New York?”
Pastor Dunbar informed Pastor Stinson that teams could now go to assist and that Dunbar had a team in place to travel to New York. Pastor Stinson responded in the affirmative and offered Bethel’s bus for the trip.
Early on a Saturday morning 12 people from now four North Georgia United Methodist churches gathered in the parking lot of Bethel for the 900 mile, 16 hour trip to Staten Island, NY.
Bethel UMC of Staten Island, the second oldest continual church in the connection founded in 1822, hosted the team.
Over the week, the team gelled as if they had worked together on many occasions. Ceilings, rugs, walls, and floors were removed in various locations. Roof beams, floors, ceilings, and walls were constructed in others. Palates were moved, trucks were unloaded, and dry wall was stacked. Whatever needed to be done was done without a single complaint.
Most of the work was done in Midland Beach where Rev. Dunbar was born and raised. The team had an instant connection to the community when people found that one of their own was back to assist.
On the long ride home the team joked, laughed, and thanked God for this was truly a dream fulfilled.
Bethel UMC – Atlanta: Samuel Ball, Emma Brock, Dr. Curtis Dilworth, Rev. Dr. Michael D. Stinson
Dallas First UMC – Kenn Swehla
Hope UMC – Robert Brantley, Paul Fortilla
New Covenant UMC – Lonnie Broyles, Rev. Michael Dunbar (Team Leader), Steve Fitz, Joe Hamilton, Mark Shearon