Ministry to its own was a priority for Panama City Corps after storm
By: Brad Rowland
When Hurricane Michael made devastating landfall in October, Panama City, Florida, was one of the areas most affected by its wrath. However, The Salvation Army sprang into immediate action, helping those displaced and directly impacted with emergency disaster relief and providing spiritual care to individuals in the area.
One such outreach came at the corps level, as soldiers and congregants of the Panama City Corps gathered in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Despite significant storm damage in the area, the body of the corps, led by Majors Otis and Vivian Childs, corps officers, met together on the first Sunday.
The corps building was without power on the first Sunday, but that reality did not prevent the spirit of the Lord from moving. Corps members exchanged testimonies, a brass quartet provided a musical backdrop and, perhaps most of all, soldiers in the area were given the opportunity to come together.
“It was very important, I believe, for us to meet in the wake of the storm,” said Major Otis. “It allowed our soldiers to get back together to share experiences and support each other. Some of our soldiers and folks from our congregation had quite a traumatic experience, so I believe it was important to catch up, fellowship with one another and provide that bit of comfort in worship.”
Many soldiers suffered great trauma as a result of the storm, with some choosing to remain in Panama City as the fury approached. Several Salvation Army facilities suffered damage, including the corps officers’ quarters and a domestic violence shelter that will need significant repair. Still, that did not stop the soldiery from meeting every Sunday following the storm, including an outdoor “open air” service during the second week, as the corps building served as a temporary shelter.
At this stage, the corps is essentially fully functioning but, as with the rest of the city and the surrounding area, recovery from Michael’s wrath is ongoing.
“The community has been very responsive to the Army here in Panama City. There is a lot more work to be done, but things are beginning to come around and we are thankful,” Major Otis said.