Houston mega-church pastor Joel Osteen has received widespread criticism for his seemingly passive response to Hurricane Harvey. Meanwhile, Alabama’s largest church—Church of the Highlands—has been busy mobilizing efforts to help victims of the storm.
As one of the church’s pastors, Layne Schranz, told ABC 33/40:
“Everyone of us at Church of the Highlands feels the responsibility to pray, to give and to go. So we don’t want to sit back and feel we’ve done something because we said a prayer or we even gave money toward helping someone. We actually want to go.”
Another Highlands pastor, Dino Rizzo, is in Texas now working on relief efforts through other congregations that Church of the Highlands helped plant in the Houston area. In fact, the Alabama church is connected to some 20 churches in the flooded Houston area through its church-planting organization Association of Related Churches (ARC). As Schranz noted,
“We’ve been able to send resources, and currently we are sending very small teams over to do some recon work with those churches, to get on the ground there,” adding that as needs are assessed, the church will send more teams from Alabama.
Schranz also stressed that 100% of donations will go directly to the victims and that no donations will be used to defray administrative costs. As the pastor told ABC 33/40,
“If you donate to ARC, 100 percent of what you give will be given to the local churches in the affected areas from the hurricane, and then we know that every dollar is going to be touching people in those communities. None of that money will be going to any overhead. It will go directly through the local church in those communities to touch people.”
Schranz said the church is accepting donations for these victims on the ARC Website, which has a prominent link for Hurricane Harvey relief, adding that information will be posted on the Church of the Highlands website later this week for those who want to go to Texas to help the church with relief efforts.
This is not the first rodeo for the Church of the Highlands in disaster relief efforts. In the wake of 2011’s devastating EF4 tornadoes, the church marshaled its resources to mobilize a massive and well-coordinated effort. That relief work served thousands of the storm’s victims quickly and effectively through a wide array of assistance that included shelter, food, water, blankets, and more.