FUMC Richardson Makes 'A Big Difference' For Jacksboro Resident

FUMC Richardson cleanup montage

Team members from the church’s young adult ministry clear debris from home as part of tornado recovery effort 

On the morning of Dec. 17, more than a dozen volunteers from First UMC Richardson partnered with the Jack County Long-Term Recovery Team to assist families in Jack County whose homes were damaged in last March’s powerful EF-3 tornado.

Team members from the church’s young adult ministry traveled to Jacksboro, 60 miles northwest of Fort Worth, to clear debris from family homes, including one owned by Pat Liston. Nine months after the tornado, the effects were still visible on Liston’s property, where the crew removed downed tree limbs, cleared brush and sorted and organized salvageable scrap metal.

“This is just wonderful,” Liston said in response to the volunteers’ efforts. “I’ve tried to do as much as I can, but they are making such a big difference.”

Beyond the physical impact, the team from FUMCR also offered renewed hope and spiritual refreshment as they worked.

“The most impactful moment of the day, for me, was when we circled up at the end of the day with Ms. Pat to say goodbye and pray with her,” said Rev. Sarah Marsalis-Luginbill, associate pastor at FUMC Richardson. “It was evident to all of us the way the Holy Spirit was present, enabling us to be community. Each of us felt a sense of belonging to one another. It was another reminder of why we are all called to go, to serve, to love and find ourselves looking like the church!”

“There’s a silver lining in this, it brought us together,” said Christian Park, construction manager for the NTC disaster response team. “It really reminded us what truly mattered and it reminded us how strong we are as a community and how much we love one another.”

Since the March 21 tornado touched down, United Methodists and the North Texas Conference have played an integral role in coordinating the recovery efforts. In the days following the tornado, Rev. Jeremy Basset, NTC disaster coordinator, and Rev. Chad Johnson, senior pastor at First UMC Jacksboro, convened community leaders – including business owners, first responders and healthcare representatives – to form what would become the Jack County Long-Term Recovery Team. In October, UMCOR awarded a $1.4 million grant to cover the effort’s organizational costs, allowing every dollar raised in charitable giving to go directly toward assisting Jack County residents.

“That money is helping people tremendously,” Park said. “Whether it’s a broken stove or a wall that’s been taped up with tarps for a year, it’s needed. We’re so thankful for every gift we receive.”

As Jack County approaches one year since the tornado struck, the need for recovery support continues. To volunteer your time, email Harva Kuykendall, monitoring and evaluation manager. To make a financial gift to the Close to Home efforts, click here.

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2023