A sense of pride and gratitude in seeing God's love at work


      Visiting people and places in Ringgold, Ga., I felt both pain and pride. My heart and soul ached because of the tremendous disaster that resulted from the recent tornado.  The loss of life, the physical destruction, and the total disruption of that wonderful community was agonizingly evident.
      As I met with individuals and saw the powerful storm's results, I felt depressed and depleted. Seeing the reality of the damage that can be done in just a very few minutes of wind and water moving across the land at unbelievably high speed is horrifying. Neither words nor pictures are adequate to describe the situation.
     However, as I visited people and places in Ringgold, I was also filled with pride and gratitude for the work and witness of God's love, mercy, and grace displayed in the actions of our United Methodist family and other faithful Christian people. My soul was nourished as I saw the incarnate presence of God visibly manifested through the people of God. 
     The Ringgold United Methodist Church, which was damaged by the storm, is now teeming with loving people engaged in an amazing ministry of disaster relief, spiritual nourishment and humanitarian aid. The pastor, John Purrington; the faithful members of the congregation; Mike Yoder and countless members of our North Georgia United Methodist Disaster Response ministry; Mike Cavin, our District Superintendent; Mike Selleck, our Conference Director of Connectional Ministries; Joe Barger, our 36-year United Methodist Mayor of Ringgold; other area clergy and laity; and the prayers and participation of our people from all over the conference and the country are overcoming the pain and havoc with God's goodness and grace.
    Once again I am reminded that storms come, winds blow, danger and devastation threatened our lives, but God's mercy is greater. God's steadfast love abounds. God's people serve, and God's grace redeems.
    Let us continue to be God's hands and feet in mission and ministry to all who suffer. Let us be the Church of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Dear God, let it be! 
Grace and peace, 
Mike Watson
Resident Bishop
North Georgia Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church