Prayer From Bishop Sue As Hurricane Irma Approaches Florida



O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come. Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home."


As Hurricane Irma churns toward my home state of Florida, I find myself praying on several fronts, and I invite you to join me in prayer:

  1. I pray for our brothers and sisters in the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Tortola and the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. I have friends in most of these places and picture them as I pray. Their countries are or will be devastated, they are or will be without power, their homes and belongings are or will be lost or damaged, and many of their governments are not as mobilized or equipped to provide aid as the U.S. Our dear friend Ramon, who served as facilities manager at one of our churches and has now returned to the Dominican Republic in retirement, once said: “After a storm hits in the Dominican, you better believe we don’t sit around wondering when the government will show up to help!”

  2. I pray that those in Florida will respect the immense power of this storm, not rely on their past experiences, and evacuate as directed by the authorities. Native Floridians are taught from childhood not to mess with a hurricane. I don’t remember from my childhood anyone who lived at the beach—native Floridians had beach houses that they went to stay in, but they always returned to their inland homes. My grandmother often told us of the time in her childhood when, after a “no-name” storm, her family stood on the roof of their three-story home in Oldsmar, FL and watched the water rise almost to the third floor. They did not have radar, a team of meteorologists, and Jim Cantore to scare the wits out of them. I am grateful that we have early warning systems, Emergency Operations Centers (EOC’s, as those from Florida well know), excellent infrastructure, and folks trained in emergency management. Now we just need to listen to them and trust them to do their jobs.

  3. I pray that the stringent building codes enacted after Hurricane Andrew will protect many. Irma will test these structures built after 1992. I hope they hold. I know that First UMC Cape Coral had to pay a fortune for new sanctuary doors that would have to withstand 160+ mph winds. We argued that no one would be in that building during a hurricane, but the authorities insisted. I think I’d head over and weather the storm next to those doors if I still lived in that area (but the storm surge would probably get me).

  4. I pray for Florida and for the areas that will be hit after the storm moves through Florida. I pray for the coastal areas of South Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. I pray for the Florida, North Georgia and South Georgia Annual Conferences, Bishops Ken Carter and Lawson Bryan, our Cabinets, our leaders and our disaster response personnel.

  5. I pray for divine comfort and peace for those in the storm’s path. I know well the stress and anxiety of having to evacuate without knowing if you will have a home to return to. I know the stress of preparing homes and churches for a storm’s onslaught. I also know how these experiences affect us, and especially our children, with anxiety and post-traumatic stress that can last for years after the storm.

  6. I pray that all affected will feel supported by our prayers and know that we stand ready to help in the aftermath. Our United Methodist connection provides amazing disaster response and comfort after the storm.

  7. Finally, I pray we remember that, in all things, God is with us. God has been our help in ages past, and is our one sure source of hope and security. These storms, and all natural disasters, grimly remind us that security in material things is an illusion. But God’s help and presence, the love we have for each other, the multitudes ready to come to our aid—these are eternal and cannot be destroyed. May the peace of Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit sustain us all.


Grace and peace to you all,

Bishop Sue