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New congregation in Ohio displaced by flood

Unitarian Universalist church in Findlay, Ohio, regroups after losing possessions.
By Donald E. Skinner
9.7.07

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church members move possessions (Sharon Kern)

Members of the UU Church in Blanchard Valley in Findlay, Ohio, moved out of the building they rent after a flood destroyed most of their possessions August 21. (Sharon Kern)

Floodwater heavily damaged the UU Church of Blanchard Valley in Findlay, Ohio, on August 21. The 25-member congregation, which was organized just four years ago, lost most of its possessions when about three feet of water rose into the building.

The Rev. Beth Marshall, in her second year with the congregation, said members were able to get in after the flood and save the pulpit, hymnals, the coffee pots, and the chalice. “That’s about it,” she said. The congregation lost its piano, all of its religious education materials, a sound system, chairs, and other books and supplies. The congregation does not own the building and will be moving.

“We had already been making plans to do that and now we unfortunately have much less to move,” Marshall said. Much of the loss may not be covered by insurance, she said. “We’re still waiting to hear about that.”

Other congregations and individual UUs have already begun sending donations of goods and money, she said. She invited anyone who wished to send material goods to contact her first at uubeth@aol.com to prevent duplication. “We’re developing a list of what we could use and it includes some of just about everything.” She said another piano has already been donated.

Checks are welcome, she said, as the congregation begins its cleanup and prepares to establish itself in a new location. “People have been sending $25 checks and apologizing for not sending more, but those checks are adding up. It makes a huge difference.”

On Sunday, September 2, the congregation held its annual water communion and, as part of the service, leaders read off a litany of the first names and towns of those who had already made donations. “It made for a very powerful statement of support for a congregation to hear. We have more of a sense now that we’re not alone. We’ve been very humbled.” For the water service the congregation used not flood water, but water from a jar from the water service a year ago.

Marshall said many members had three to six feet of water in their basements. “Their degree of loss depended on what they had stored in the basement,” said Marshall.

She added, “The good news is that the church will be moving to a more visible location and that we have a class of new folks taking the New UU class this fall. With the help we’re receiving from others, some who are total strangers, this flood will only be a temporary setback.”

Checks can be sent to the Rev. Beth Marshall, 400 Hillcrest Ave., Findlay OH 45840.


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