Hit by destructive forces and taken aback by a wave of solidarity

20210626_140036On Thursday, the 24th of June 2021, the Hodonínsko and Břeclavsko regions were hit by a completely unexpected natural disaster. After a series of bad thunderstorms, a strong tornado passed through Southern Moravia. Apart from the material damages reported, there were many injured and some casualties as well. 2000 constructions (houses, churches, factories, etc.) were damaged, including a railway corridor. Hundreds of trees fell, countless roofs were carried away. This is something we are not used to seeing happen in our country.

Already before midnight on the day of the catastrophe, members of the ECCB’s management and Diaconia assembled for an extraordinary meeting in order to issue immediate aid to those struck by the disaster. 500,000 CZK were released from the humanitarian aid fund and a fundraising campaign was organised through the Humanitarian and Development Cooperation Centre, raising 26 million crowns in the course of two months.

Diaconia concluded an agreement on a coordinated aid approach together with nine other organizations that were raising funds for the cause. In the first two weeks following the tornado, 34 of Diaconia’s volunteers worked over 1,000 hours in the affected region.

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The immediate wave of solidarity was so extraordinary that the ECCB Diaconia’s Humanitarian and Development Cooperation Centre decided to organize an ecumenical service to offer spiritual support, consolation and hope to those who lost their loved ones or their homes. It was also an expression of gratitude to those that provided this hope through their help: the emergency services, the army, the volunteers…

IMG_20210624_214028The service took place on Monday, the 30th of August from 7 p.m. at the Saint James church in Moravská Nová Ves. Ministers of the ECCB, the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Methodist Church, the Czechoslovak Hussite Church and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church took part in the service.

Three weeks later, in mid-July, a wave of strong thunderstorms and torrential rains caused flash floods in Western Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Over two hundred lives were lost in the catastrophe and even a month after the events, authorities were still reporting dozens of people as missing.  Given the extent, these floods are among the most severe natural disasters Europe has seen in the past quarter of a century.

The Synodal Council immediately contacted its partner churches in Germany to express its sympathy. The Council also asked the ECCB’s churches to pray for the affected regions and at its meeting, it decided to provide direct support in the amount of 500,000 CZK from the Social and Charity Aid Fund.

The ECCB transferred its funds directly to the account of the German Diaconia Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe, which works in the affected regions.

Congregations of the ECCB as well as individuals also joined in collecting the money for Germany. The collection was organised by the ECCB’s Diaconia and the donations on the transparent account amounted to another 555,000 CZK by mid-August.

“We thank you sincerely for this generous gesture of support and solidarity! The damages caused by the floods are unquantifiable. The photos from the affected locations only give us a hint of how badly distressing the situation must be. Again and again, we are in awe of the stories we get from people, stories full of hope and trust in the midst of all this suffering. One of these stories is your support through thought, prayer and financial aid,” as stated in one of the letters of gratitude that arrived from Germany to our church’s central office.

We thank all the contributors for their will to overcome sadness with solidarity and to spread hope across state borders.

Jiří Hofman