Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Goderich, Ontario, worked with other local churches to provide help and support to their town after it was devastated by an Aug. 21 tornado.
Following the disaster, Trinity CRC worked with the Salvation Army to provide meals for clean-up workers, volunteers, and displaced people, and turned the church’s sanctuary into a temporary sorting station for donations of clothes, furniture, and nonperishable foods.
A Goderich, Ontario, street after the tornado.
The Goderich churches had often worked and worshiped together before the disaster, so when Rev. Stephen Tamming, Trinity’s pastor, found that natural gas had been cut off in the wake of the tornado, leaving the Salvation Army with no way to cook meals, he immediately offered the use of the church’s electric stoves.
The congregation took on the responsibility of suppers each day, while the Salvation Army took care of breakfasts and lunches. Wilma Hiemstra, Trinity’s ministry coordinator, said, “The job of feeding so many people—500-600 for supper—was overwhelming. It took an army of volunteers, [but] there was never a shortage of people.”
Seeing beyond the physical needs, Tamming initiated another way to support the suffering town: a town-wide, all-church worship service. He booked the local high school gym, the Trinity worship band, and several technicians.
As chair of the Goderich Ministerial Group, Tamming contacted the town’s other pastors, who helped plan and participated in the Aug. 28 service.
“The service was wonderful,” said Tamming. “Over 1,000 people attended. The unity of the church and community was amazing.”
Of the shared efforts, Captain Bramwell Pearce of the Goderich Salvation Army, said, “Our [Christian] Reformed brothers and sisters were an amazing help to the Army. My hope is that the world has learned something about the body of Christ because of this terrible tragedy.”