Deployed With PDA-NRT

I’ve shared the story of visiting with Madge Chamness the Saturday  before I was to leave to go to Florida, after Hurricane Maria, with the PDA National Response Team. I said, “Madge,  I may not be with you when you die.” Madge’s response when I told her was, “Bill, you go to Florida, they need you worse than I do.” Her response was a typical Madge response, On Tuesday morning, September 12, 2017, when her daughter Susan called me and said, “Bill, mama died,” my initial response was, “I need to get out of my trip to Florida.” And Susan said, “No Bill, mama was very specific. You go to Florida and we’ll have the funeral when you get back.” Madge is not atypical of the folks at First Presbyterian Church, Greenville, NC; they all
have a heart for serving Christ and doing what is right.

On Sunday September 16, 2018 Jim Kirk called and asked If I could go to South Carolina to respond to Hurricane Florence. My response was, “Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you.” I called both my Clerks of Sessions, Gwen Gibson (United) and Lois Clark
(Fairview). They both felt that I should go. On Saturday Imogene Clippard, had died, I called her granddaughter, Caroline Clippard and let her know about my deployment. On Monday I meet with Caroline and planed Imogene’s service with Edyth Pruitt about conducting the service.

On Sunday afternoon Lois Clark called to let me know that her and Jerry’s son Brian Clark had died. At that point I began to rethink my going to South Carolina. Lois encouraged me to go on, “Edyth can do the service.” She said. So I went to serve the people in New Harmony Presbytery.

I have been on the National Response Team for PDA since it began in 1996. But I could not do this work if it were not for church folks like Madge, Lois and Jerry and Caroline who respond by saying, “No you go Bill, we’ll be alright.” Nor could I do it without colleagues
like Edyth, who step up and cover me in the times am asked to go.

The National Response Team of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is composed of only about 120 folks. Yet each of us has a spouse, a church, our friends, and our colleagues who pray for us, support us and say “You go we’ve got you covered. I thank God for all of you. You show me each time I am deployed with PDA what the church really is.

Bill Neely