A group of West Side clergymen are mobilizing resources for victims of the April 25 earthquake that devastated the Himalayan region that spans several countries, including Nepal, China, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan. The death toll has so far registered more than 6,000, with thousands more injured. Nepal bore the brunt of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, whose epicenter was the small hillside village of Barpak.
“There’s no way a crisis of this magnitude could occur and the church not respond,” said Rev. Ira Acree, the pastor of Greater St. John Bible church. Acree gathered with 15 other ministers at an April 30 press conference held at New Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, 4301 W. Washington Boulevard.
The church’s pastor, Rev. Marshall Hatch, has long been a staple of the international humanitarian struggles that have been staged on the West Side. He and the other pastors challenged the city’s religious community “to hold a special disaster relief offering and extend prayers for the families and survivors in Nepal,” according to a release. The participating pastors will dedicate Sunday, May 3, 2015, Nepal Relief Sunday.
“I cannot begin to comprehend the pain and suffering that’s going on in Nepal,” said Steve Epting, pastor of Austin’s Hope Community Church. “I can only ask myself what can you [I] do to help.”
“In this time of civil unrest and protest, there is a need to show compassion that redeems hope in humanity and provides relief to catastrophic devastation,” said Cy Fields, pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church and president of the LEADERS Network, a social justice organization comprising community leaders across the West Side.
Acree said that the pastors will channel the funds that they raise to World Vision, one of the world’s largest international humanitarian relief organizations. According to its website, the Christian organization assisted more than 10 million disaster survivors, refugees and displaced people last year.
“I truly believe in the principles of Jesus Christ, which teach a love for humanity,” said Acree. “That’s the principle our church is built upon. When Rev. Hatch gave me a call and asked if I wanted to help, to partner, I initially thought that, with a disaster of this magnitude, there wasn’t much I could do. There may not be much we can do individually, but collectively, we can make an impact.”
The West Side pastors and churches leading the Nepal humanitarian efforts are listed below:
- Pastor Cy Fields and the New Landmark Baptist Church
- Pastor Marshall Hatch and the New Mt Pilgrim Baptist Church
- Pastor Steve Epting and the Hope Community Church
- Pastor Ira Acree and the Greater St John Bible Church
- Pastor Robbie Wilkerson and the New Kingdom Church
- Pastor Wilson Daniels and the United Baptist Church
- Pastor Steve Spiller and the Greater Galilee Baptist Church
- Pastor David Ford and the Christ Tabernacle Baptist Church
- Bishop Clarence Smith and the New Life Ministries
- Pastor James Brooks and the Harmony Baptist Church
- Pastor John Collins and the Great True Vine Baptist Church
- Pastor Bernard Clark and the Prince of Peace Baptist church
- Pastor Steve Greer Jr. and the Christian Valley Baptist Church
- Pastor Cornelius Parks and the First Bethel Church
- Bishop Al Reese and the Temple of Life Church International
- Pastor Myron Austin and St Clair Baptist Church
- Pastor Woodard Williams and Number 2 New Mt Sinai Baptist Church
- Pastor Richard Nelson and Greater Open Door Baptist Church.