Dear Friends,

The nation awakened this past Saturday morning to the news that during the night and early morning hours, tornadoes had wreaked havoc in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and several neighboring states. Lives were lost, buildings destroyed and communities devastated. Bishop Bill McAlilly, who oversees the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences (which will become the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference on January 1, 2022) and Bishop Leonard Fairley, episcopal leader of the Kentucky Conference, both anticipate a long recovery process for the communities most affected by the tornadoes.

As the news of the aftermath of the storms continues to unfold, our hearts break at the pain, trauma and suffering caused by these tornadoes. We want to do something to help those who are hurting. Yet we are not sure what to do, especially during this early phase of the recovery process.

At times like this, I am so thankful for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), our church’s humanitarian arm. UMCOR has already made emergency grants to conferences to help with immediate needs of survivors and will continue to be partners in the recovery process for the long haul.

Here are some additional actions you and I can take today to make a difference in this situation.

  1. Pray for the people, communities and churches affected by the tornadoes.
  2. Assist our Conference in collecting UMCOR Hygiene Kits. We will gather them at Cokesbury, Knoxville to be staged and ready for delivery when and where requested.
  3. Give to UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Response and Recovery through Advance #901670.
  4. Donations also can be made directly to the Kentucky Conference’s Disaster Response Advance 200902, Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference’s Disaster Response Fund, the Missouri Conference disaster response, the Arkansas Tornado Fund and the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Disaster Response Ministry
  5. When the affected Conferences deem that the time is right to extend an invitation to volunteers in mission and response teams, consider participating in rebuilding efforts.

During this time of year, Christ-followers are reminded that God is with us in the birth of the Christ Child. Matthew 1:23 reads, “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel”, which means, “God is with us.”

God’s presence is often manifested through our words and actions. May those who have been devastated by last weekend’s storms experience Emmanuel “God is with us” through our words, prayers, gifts and service.
It is a joy to serve as your bishop. 


Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
Holston and North Alabama Conferences