January 3, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May God's abundant gifts of this new year be evident to you every coming day!

It is apparent to us that the shooting incident in Newtown, Connecticut is a tragedy that has deeply affected people across the country.  How deep and wide has been the outpouring of prayers and the sharing of sentiments and gifts!  Though there is darkness in our world how abundant is God's grace!

I want to update you on how you can be of continuing support during our recovery from this national tragedy.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been with us every step of the way and offered unparalleled support, advice, and companionship.  Currently a full-time PDA volunteer is with us for three weeks to help us manage the enormous volume of mail, emails, gifts, and offers of help we have received at Valley Church in Brookfield and the Presbytery.  PDA also is planning two "care for caregivers" retreats for early February: one for any clergy from the region and the other for first responders.  We are currently assessing the need for long term response such as faith-based counselors.  If there is such a need your gifts and PDA will provide the support needed to make it happen.

Here is how you can funnel your support:
1)  The people of Newtown itself have more than enough support.  But the grief about this incident is everywhere.  Direct your caring and compassion to those in your own community who are bearing a burden related to this shooting.

2) If you want to send sentiments to the Newtown families directly affected please send them to the United Way.  Those sentiments will be available to the families when they are ready to see them.  Send to United Way, 3 Simm Lane, Newtown, CT. 06470.

3) If you or a church group wishes to volunteer in some way contact the Newtown Volunteer Task Force at 855-364-6600 or if you are a counselor contact either the United Way or the Red Cross.

4) If you wish to give a financial gift please direct those gifts to the Presbytery of Southern New England, 123 Elm Street #200, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 marked for Sandy Hook, or to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance by mail, online, or phone to account #DR000188. Details are at this link: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/pda/response-newtown/ 

5) If praying is your gift then please do so continually.  You can imagine that recovery from this kind of grief takes a very long time.  God's healing is needed.

For many of us emotionally and physically burdened by living with this event the celebration of Christ's birth was a blessing.  It both gave us space to restore ourselves and it reminded us that Christ's coming was into a world where even innocents are slaughtered.  This is why the Prince of Peace came!  Praise be to God.

Dana Lindsley
Presbytery of Southern New England


December 18, 2012

Dear Presbyters and Friends,

I want to update you on how we can respond to the staggering tragedy at Newtown within our Presbytery. As you might guess it is a fluid and changing situation.

Just 24 hours after the tragedy a team from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) had arrived. The team of four experienced persons have not only been of huge support to Adele Crawford and me, but also they have been instrumental in networking many religious and volunteer organizations as they try to respond to the needs of the Newtown community and beyond.

The outpouring of care and offers of help and support have been overwhelming. So much so that the need now is to hold back on these offers so that the caregivers can focus on immediate needs, such as funerals and counseling. Newtown has in hand already great resources for all these immediate needs. Among those resources are the strong and organized relationships of an active ministerium.


Gratefully FEMA will very soon have a VAL (Volunteer Agency Liaison) working in Newtown. That person will work to coordinate the long-term recovery which is done in large part by religious and volunteer organizations. Do what Presbyterians do very well: stick with this for the long haul and make your offers of help over the next two years. PDA and the VAL will let us know what needs arise and you will be informed through the Presbytery about what you can do.

Here is what you can do now.

  • Pray for healing for the worldwide hurt this event has brought, and pray for strength for the caregivers who attend to those who are hurting.
  • Give financial gifts for the future work to address family needs and to support the ministry of PDA (such as a support retreat for the pastors and first responders in Newtown, or the expenses of the response team).
  • As the impact of this event reaches into every community focus what help you can give in your local community: schools, first responders, churches.
    • Create strong support communities, like ministeriums.
    • Get to know and support local mental health professionals.
    • Create a disaster response process in your congregation.

We received a touching email from a congregation in Dunblane, Scotland that experienced its own school shooting incident. They expressed their understanding and support for us with words that touched our hearts and spoke to us of the enduring grace of God. We are grateful for your prayers and your compassion.





Children's Message at Valley Church: "It is ok to be sad ... it will not last forever ... one thing you can do: look for the helpers God sends to us."


In a well-attended worship on Sunday at Valley Church in Brookfield, just a few miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, there were a lot of tears and hugging and hearts on sleeves.  Rev. Adele courageously and honestly led a very subdued worship that perfectly touched the hearts of all and helped us all see the presence of the gifts we share that God gives us in times like these.

One set of helpers was present: four volunteers from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance who will be helping us, all faith congregations, and the whole community near Sandy Hook mobilize and organize volunteers, provide support for caregivers (like pastors and first responders), and give us advice on how to be God's helpers.

Experienced from responding to other shootings in the US this team was an exceptionally fine support to individuals and small groups on this very emotional Sunday.  "I've never been prouder to be a Presbyterian" said Adele Crawford.  Neither have I.

Dana Lindsley