Wildfires have again forced many residents to evacuate their homes in Northern California as the Clayton fire continues to blaze. The fire started on August 13 off highway 29 by Clayton Creek. Cal Fire reports that almost 4,000 acres have burned since, and the fire is 65% contained. Nearly 2,000 fire fighters have worked to put out the blaze.
Lake County is home to Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Lakeport and Middletown that are serving as help centers.
Middletown Seventh-day Adventist Church is housing Red Cross workers. "What an opportunity to meet volunteers from all over the United States who come to assist us in this disaster!" said Ted Calkins, pastor of the Middletown church, in an update from the Northern California Conference (NCC) website.
Middletown is no stranger to the destruction caused by wildfires as the town is still recovering from last year’s Valley fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Church services this Sabbath at Middletown will reportedly be held outdoors, as the church wants to allow those volunteering on the nightshift to have a place to sleep.
Lakeport Adventist Church is serving as a center for evacuees. Lakeport’s pastor, Randy Brehms, said that the church is designed for disaster relief, complete with a commercial-sized kitchen, a large fellowship hall and a sanctuary that can seat 350. He recalls the example Jesus set as their church aims to “meet people where they are.”
“This has been good for our church,” said Brehms. Seth Cantu, Bible Worker at Upper Lake Adventist Church, has been running the volunteer services offered by the Lakeport church.
“We’ve learned a lot from the Valley fire,” said Cantu. This is the second summer that the Lakeport church has served as an evacuation center. For the past week, an average of 16 people have been spending the night at the church. Approximately 50-60 people come to the church throughout the day for meals and snacks.
The church has been offering three meals a day for evacuees. The supplies have come from a number of resources, including Red Cross, the Redwood Empire Food Bank and a coalition of Christian churches in the community.
“This is just one more opportunity to show how much we care about our community,” said Cantu. He and Pastor Brehms both emphasized the significance of the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Cash donations, gift cards, grocery cards and gas cards to help those who have lost their homes and who have been evacuated can be sent to the Lakeport Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Lakeport church is no longer accepting clothing donations as they still have a surplus from last summer’s Valley fire donations.
Lakeport Community Seventh-day Adventist Church
P.O. Box 237
Lakeport, CA 95453-0237
The Northern California Conference will also be taking up an offering on Sabbath to assist with the fire recovery efforts, according to the conference newsletter.
Hallie Anderson is a student intern for Spectrum and a senior communications student studying journalism and public relations at Walla Walla University.
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