Diverse Faiths Heed the Call to Aid Victims

February 6, 2007

Author: Mark I. Pinsky

Source: Orlando Sentinel


DeLAND -- For a while Monday afternoon, the tornado-ravaged 500 block of Beresford Road seemed like interfaith central.

A team of five members of the Islamic Society of Central Florida's disaster relief had just pulled in from Orlando and unloaded their chain saws and other equipment.

They started helping the Rev. Bruce Hedgepeth of First Presbyterian Church of DeLand, who was on the roof of a damaged home with half a dozen members of his congregation working nearby, the latest stop in the church's marathon volunteer efforts since the storm hit Friday.

Within a few minutes, a group of women from Hannah's Circle, a women's and children's mission support group at First United Methodist Church of Winter Park, all dressed in bright yellow T-shirts, drove up with news of a woman in the area who was in dire shape and hadn't yet been visited by any volunteers. As the Muslims started their chain saws to clear trees from the damaged house, Hedgepeth came down from the roof and headed off to visit the woman in distress.

The outpouring of help was just one example of how diverse congregations and denominations have joined in body and spirit to help victims of Central Florida's devastating tornadoes.