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Disaster Response
51 Participants Attend Basic LERT Training Print E-mail

LERT Training

THANK YOU to Lord of Life Lutheran Church in LaFox, Ilinois for hosting the Basic LERT Training on Saturday, January 30, 2016. 51 participants from the following NID congregations were trained: St. Mark, St Charles; St Peter, Hampshire, the Cross/Helmar Team of Yorkville, and Lord of Life Lutheran Church, LaFox. Lord of Life Lutheran Church added 33 new members to their team, increasing their membership to 62. This training brings our Northern Illinois District team of LERT credentialed volunteers to nearly 1,100!

Last Updated on Friday, 05 February 2016 11:16
When Disaster Strikes…Who You Gonna Call? Lutheran Church Charities! Print E-mail
LERT logo Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere - people and churches need to be prepared. In disasters, LCC volunteers and LERT teams serve as the hands and feet of Jesus through their physical labor and share the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need of help. Many people who have had their homes and lives destroyed in a disaster are in shock or denial and the only one who can help them put their lives back together is God. That’s why LERT volunteers ask if they can pray with those suffering, and that’s why they say “yes”.

In the past year, LCC LERT teams worked and prayed in:

  • Rochelle and Fairdale (first anniversary April 9, 2016)
  • Watseka
  • Quincy
  • Coal City
  • Sublet
  • Braidwood
  • Frankfort
  • Holly Springs, Mississippi

Depending on the situation, LCC LERT teams:

  • Muck out/Flood clean-up
  • Tarp holes in roofs
  • Use chainsaws to cut downed trees
  • Remove debris
  • Offer comfort
  • …and prayer

LCC also offers presentations on how churches can be prepared in case a disaster strikes their congregation or community. The presentation shows how, by being properly prepared, you can protect your pastor, staff, members of your church, and their families.

Through the simple act of showing up, offering solace and trying to serve, hundreds of people in the past year have been touched by the volunteers and staff members of the LCC.


The next LERT training sessions are:

Saturday, February 27, 2016
Shepherd of the Hill Lutheran Church

404 N Green St
McHenry, IL 60050

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Lutheran Church Charities

3020 Milwaukee Ave
Northbrook, IL 60062

Saturday, November 12, 2016
Lutheran Church Charities

3020 Milwaukee Ave
Northbrook, IL 60062

Each session is from 9 AM to 1:30 PM and includes lunch. Participants in the three-hour training receive official credentials, a LERT manual, and a LERT vest.

You can register for training HERE

Or call 866-455-6466. Questions? Contact Dianna Bonfield at LCC with questions at (866) 455-6466 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 February 2016 11:04
LERT Volunteers and LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Unite in Texas Print E-mail
Tornado Disaster response and LCC K-9 Comfort Dog ministries joined together on January 23, 2016 to bring aid and comfort following the December tornadoes in Garland, TX.

Comfort Dogs Phoebe and Pax from St. Paul Lutheran in Ft. Worth, TX joined together with more than 300 LERT volunteers from the state of Texas to assist the residents of Garland.

In spite of the brisk and chilly day, the atmosphere was warm and invigorating as crews eagerly worked to clean up the storm-damaged community. Chainsaw crews were among the volunteers along with the Holy Cow Smokers from Lamb of God Lutheran Church in Flower Mound, TX. Holy Cow Smokers prepared 800 pounds of pulled pork for 1,200 lunches as well as 500 sliced brisket dinners. The meals were served at Tree of Life Lutheran in Garland.

To gift to the LCC disaster response efforts, CLICK HERE

To gift to the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Fund, CLICK HERE

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 10:35
LERT Training at Trinity, Lisle (IL) Print E-mail
LERT logo Over 50 LERT members added knowledge and expertise to their repertoire through the LERT Advanced Training Session – Muck Out and Flood Clean-Up offered by Trinity Lutheran, Lisle, IL on Monday, January 18th. Updates to new policy in disaster response were offered as well as dinner and a chance for teams to reacquaint themselves outside of meeting on disaster sites. LCC would like to thank the LERT Team of Trinity, Lisle for their continued support and activity in training and disaster response. Jan and Ed Boerman organized a wonderful night of fellowship and training.

If your LERT team or congregation is interested in hosting one of the advanced trainings, contact LCC at (866) 455-6466, email Joel Moritz at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or Dianna Bonfield at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for details to host Advanced LERT Trainings.

For more information on currently scheduled LERT trainings, CLICK HERE

Click here to register for LERT Training

Click here to download the LERT brochure or the bulletin insert to advertise LERT training at your church

Click here for Congregational Preparedness Training information and registration

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 February 2016 11:04
Great is Thy Faithfulness Print E-mail
On Saturday, January 16, 2016, all Lutheran Early Response Teams had been deployed out to muck out homes in Watseka, IL. Around that time, a woman named Elizabeth came to Calvary Lutheran Church after receiving terrible news. The rental house where her family lived was being condemned because it posed a danger to her family and was unsafe to live in. She needed to move out by Monday, leaving only Sunday to move out all the furniture and belongs. She rented a storage unit and had a small trailer her land lord loaned to her. Her husband and sons worked the weekend so they could not help. She went to the Red Cross which told her they could not help her and said to try the Lutheran church.

volunteers in Watseka When Elizabeth arrived at Calvary, she was at her wits end due to not knowing what to do. After talking with her, Lutheran Church Charities staff member Dianna Bonfield asked the LERT team if they could possibly stay a little longer to help. Without any hesitation, they all said yes and signed back in. They donned their work gloves, grabbed a hand truck from the tool trailer, and headed to her house. The next two teams joined them to move the furniture and items to storage. The twelve volunteers loaded, moved, and unloaded all of her furniture and the majority of boxes leaving only a few small things for her family to move the following day.

Elizabeth left Calvary experiencing the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Christ through the loving service of the volunteers who let her know that there was hope and God loved her.

Bible in Watseka While in Watseka, IL, Lutheran Church Charities staff members and volunteers have continued to encounter men and women who remain strong in their faith and their resolve. The community remains hopeful as they clean up and recover from the effects of the flood waters that have devastated their town. As our photographers went from home to home documenting progress and encouraging homeowners, we were struck by the presence of this Bible. Here was a garage filled to capacity with household items that had been water drenched and were now air drying as best they could. Yet there amid the damage and ruin sat the Bible; a symbol of hope. God's Word is eternal. It does not wash away in floods but rather lives on in the heart of man, woman, and child.

sunset in Watseka As our staff wrapped up from another long weekend of coordinating restoration and cleaning efforts, the Lord blessed us with a magnificent sunset as we set out on the 2+ hour drive back home. As surely as the sun rises and sets, as God's children we can trust the unending love of the Lord; His mercies are new every morning. No matter what we face in life, one thing remains; the faithfulness of the mighty God we love and serve.

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hast provided, great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24

Click here to give a financial gift to help in Watseka, Illinois Click here for more information on how you can send a "Care Card" to someone affected by flooding To view a thank you letter from a Watseka resident, CLICK HERE Click here to register to volunteer to help in Watseka, Illinois View photos from the January 16th work day
View photos from the January 9th work day
View photos from the January 2nd work day
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 February 2016 10:52
Watseka, IL: Stories of the Mercy, Compassion, Presence, and Proclamation of Jesus Christ Print E-mail
Luther Comfort Dog reminds us that “A Mighty Fortress is our God!”

Watseka, Illinois Many of us have had the moving experience of sitting beside tranquil waters; a babbling brook, a gentle stream, the melodic waves of the ocean caressing the shore. But what happens when water become a devastating factor? When flood waters rise to an unprecedented level and you are helpless to stop its force. When all you can do is watch as your life becomes a series of loss, discouragement and devastation. And what if on top of that those waters froze due to winter weather, leaving rescue efforts suspended until the weather cooperated. This is the plight many families in Watseka, IL are now facing.

On January 2nd LCC was first boots on the ground to evaluate the situation in Watseka, IL. While visiting those hit hardest from the floods, we met a young family and their two children who are staying at a Red Cross shelter. The mother shared with us that some time back her family had experienced a home fire that devastated their lives, claiming all of their possessions, yet they were thankful to have walked away with no loss of life.

Watseka, Illinois Having come through this horrific experience they had now put roots down in Watseka, only to be met with another disaster. Displaced a second time from the flood waters and temporarily living in the Red Cross shelter set up in a church basement, they wonder “Where is God in all of this?”

Yet in this state of questioning, we witnessed a transformation of face and spirit as the LCC Comfort Dogs joyfully walked into the church. The change in the atmosphere was evident the moment our LCC furry-pawed dogs entered the building. The excitement and joy was instant, as if someone had just come with great news…and the fact is, they had! The news of hope, restoration, and renewal in Jesus. We watched as children fawned and fussed over the dogs. The echo of their giggles reverberating off those basement walls was pure delight. One little boy was very apprehensive, having had an unfavorable experience in the past with a dog. Yet beyond his fear and hesitation, Comfort Dog Luther lay next to the bare-footed boy, placing his head in the boy’s lap, as if to say, “It’s OK now.” As the boy gently stroked Luther’s head, we witnessed a calming effect take place.

Watseka, Illinois When LCC returned to Watseka on January 9th, we found the young family who had previously been at the shelter, now living in a one room, one queen size bed local motel. Their home still is not habitable. Pastor Love and an LCC staff member visited the family giving them gift cards to the local Walmart so that we could purchase food and clothing. The kids were ecstatic! They ran around with the gift cards as Mom shyly blushed at their exuberance. The kids asked if the Comfort Dogs were with us (which they were not). Pastor Love returned to Calvary Lutheran Church where we dispatched Bekah Comfort Dog and three other staff members. Returning to the motel, we knocked on the door only to be greeted by one excited little boy upon seeing Bekah. While inside the kids cuddled, stroked and dance around Bekah Comfort Dog. The mother was so delighted that LCC specifically came to minister to them personally. The LCC staff prayed with the family as the children gathered around, squishing their eyes closed as we prayed for the Lord’s protection, provision and promises. The Mom expressed to us that while she had not been going to church on a regular basis, she now wanted to return. The outpouring of love and compassion that she experienced from LCC and the combined relief efforts touched her deeply. “I know that Jesus is taking care of us,” she said.

Watseka, Illinois The children had received a stuffed Comfort Dog the week prior that they affectionately named Fitbit. Attached to Fitbit was a colorful lanyard. Mom told us that when the children go to school, they place the lanyard around her neck so that she can care for Fitbit while they are away. That stuffed dog had become a symbol of comfort and hope. When it was time to leave the children (and Mom) got in their final snuggles with Bekah. As we started to drive away, there in the window where these wide-eyed children smiling and waving at Bekah.

Watseka, Illinois The work and effectiveness of the LCC Comfort Dogs goes far beyond wagging tails. The ministry reaches into the very heart of the hurting and reminds them that there is comfort in the Lord; that they are not forgotten. It is our mission and our privilege to bring the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those in need. We thank all of you who make this possible through your prayers and generous support. Together we are making a difference!

The Greatest of These

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Watseka, Illinois We read of the many gifts in the body of Christ, yet the apostle Paul concludes by saying the greatest of these is love. Lutheran Church Charities had the privilege of seeing that love in action in the people of Watseka, IL as well as in the 50+ volunteers who came to lend a hand. Watseka is a community of people who practice the “love your neighbor” rule with excellence. LCC had opportunity to visit many of the flood damaged homes and speak personally with homeowners and flood victims. No matter who we spoke with or the extent of the damage and loss suffered, without exception there was a reoccurring theme; are my neighbors okay? Many sustained what would be deemed substantial loss however we heard comments such as, “We sustained loss but not as bad as some other people,” and they continued with comments like “Is everyone else alright?” The genuine care and concern for others was overwhelming and genuine.

Watseka, Illinois One home owner, Minnie, went through a flood in 2006 and 2008. In 2008 the homeowners had their home raised and completed renovations, believing the raising of the home would protect them from future damages. Unfortunately this was not the case. In December of 2015 they again took on water so severe that it filled their 12’ basement to capacity. When we asked Minnie how she is dealing with multiple flood issues her comment was “Its good exercise for me.” At 88 years young, Minnie and her husband Leonard (age 91) continue to be hopeful and lean on their faith to see them through.

When we spoke with Minnie she stated, “We had 5 inches of water. We had the fireplace. We had our boots in the house. I had a cot from upstairs. I slept on the cot in the front room by the fireplace, kept the fireplace going and walked in boots the whole time to keep everything going. And we just survive. God bless us, He’s with us and helps us through everything.”

Watseka, Illinois Pastor Donald Love, Calvary Lutheran Church in Watseka, Illinois and Rev. Michael Meyer, Manager of LCMS Disaster Response, spoke with Minnie and emphasized how important it was for the volunteers to be assisting with power washing and doing mold prevention. Rev. Meyer spoke gently to Minnie, “But it’s so important what the volunteers are doing today in cleaning out that area. Because even though there is nothing down there, if they weren’t to clean out that film that’s over everything it would start to circulate through the home and start to affect your health and your husbands health and we don’t want that to happen.” Minnie, true to her survivor attitude said “Well otherwise I can go down there and power wash; I’ve done it before.” Pastor Love started speaking to reassure Minnie that “But at 88, pushing 89 it’s a…..” to which Minnie interrupted with her infectious laugh and said, “I’m still young. I’m not old!” CLICK HERE for a video interview with Minnie.

What we witnessed was the LCC mission in action; Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation. Countless lives have been impacted by the grace of God as seen through the acts of mercy and compassion extended volunteers to homeowners, homeowners to neighbors, neighbors to community.

We witnessed Matthew 22:9 in action. In the Watseka community was a resounding “We’re good neighbors, we look out for each other.” And they do!

Click here to give a financial gift to help in Watseka, Illinois Click here for more information on how you can send a "Care Card" to someone affected by flooding Click here to register to volunteer to help in Watseka, Illinois View photos from the January 9th work day
View photos from the January 2nd work day
Last Updated on Sunday, 17 January 2016 10:56
Lutheran Early Response Teams (LERT) Assist in Holly Springs, Mississippi Following Tornado Print E-mail
Mississippi tornado Less than two weeks after the destructive tornado that decimated Holly Spring, Mississippi, Lutheran Early Response Teams departed to aid in the rebuilding of this town. LERT members teamed up with Rev. Ed Brashier, the Disaster Response Coordinator for the Southern LCMS District, to clean up after the disaster. The group was able to complete work with chainsaws while ministering to some of those affected by this horrible event.

Jean Warfel of St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (Hampshire, IL), describes the LERT team’s impact on the area and their carving of crosses on tree stumps:

Mississippi tornadoAll of us thought making a cross from a tree stump was a great idea, so a couple of our chainsaw guys carved one on the properties we worked at. We felt is a beautiful thing to leave each family that we did chainsaw work and cleanup for to remind them that someone cared enough to help in their time of need, sharing Christ's love as He showed us to do.

One family was at what was considered "ground zero" of the tornado. They saw it touch down and come up their long driveway towards their house. The house was on a slab (no basement). It was completely demolished, but each family member survived. There was a pastor, his wife, their daughter and her children. We did not have the opportunity to meet these homeowners. A car was in their garage at the time the tornado hit. They had recently paid the car off. It was heavily damaged with the windows blown out. On December 23rd, the pastor's wife had purchased Christmas gifts. The gifts were in the trunk of this car, and even though it was ravaged, the trunk and gifts were intact. Most of the rest of their earthly belongings were gone, but these Christmas gifts were spared. God works in amazing ways!

Please continue to keep this community in your prayers as it continues to rebuild. Click here to give a financial gift to help in Holly Spring, Mississippi Click here for photos from Holly Spring, Mississippi
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 January 2016 12:17
Over 50 Volunteers Were the Hands and Feet of Jesus in Watseka, Illinois Following Flooding Print E-mail
flooding Watseka IL LCC staff, K-9 teams and LERT certified volunteers from the Northern Illinois, Central Illinois and Michigan Districts met at Calvary Lutheran Church in Watseka, Illinois on Saturday, January 9th in response to the workday in the recovery from recent flooding in the area. Volunteers were greeted by the town's mayor before departing to muck out affected homes. With additional cleaning supplies brought in by LCC, the Michigan District, and LCMS Disaster Response, over 50 volunteers deployed to the 40 homes with major flooding. Crews were able to clean out one-third of the homes. Residents of some of the other 300+ homes with minor flooding were given cleaning products as they arrived at Calvary with requests. CID DR coordinator Stephen Born will continue to deploy crews during the week. Another workday will be scheduled for Saturday, January 16th. Click here to give a financial gift to help in Watseka, Illinois Click here for more information on how you can send a "Care Card" to someone affected by flooding Click here to register to volunteer to help in Watseka, Illinois Click here to view photos from this work day
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 13:33
Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) Volunteers Travel to Holly Springs, Mississippi Print E-mail
LERT Team On Sunday, January 3rd, a group of LERT volunteers led by Bob Schwarzkopf (Immanuel Lutheran, Belvidere, Illinois) departed for Holly Springs, Mississippi. The Holly Springs area was hit by a tornado this past December. We thank all LERT volunteers who deploy to share the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Christ through disaster response. We pray for their safe travel and return.

To gift to the LCC Disaster Response Fund, CLICK HERE

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 January 2016 13:52
Help LCC Respond in Disaster Response Situations with Utility Vehicles Print E-mail
Utility Vehicles This past Saturday, LCC was in Watseka, IL assessing and performing wellness checks with people who were suffering because of the flooding. Pictured is Pastor Love of Calvary Lutheran Church in Watseka with LCC President Tim Hetzner visiting a 92-year-old member and her 93-year-old husband who were completely surrounded by water. If it were not for a LERT volunteer with LCC who had a John Deere Gator we would not have been able to get to them. Vehicles can only go so far into the water in flooding situations; otherwise, flat tires occur because of the debris that is in the water. Utility vehicles are also essential in tornado response work with our chainsaw crews to bring in equipment and volunteers. LCC is at the point which we need several utility vehicles for us to safely and most effectively serve those who are suffering from the disaster.

Can you help us in one or more of the following ways?

Qualifications of the type of vehicle needed include:

  • 4-wheel drive
  • 2-4 passenger capacity
  • towing capabilities
  • rear box for hauling equipment like pumps into work sites
  • 45-plus horse power

Utility VehiclesCommon brands for the type of utility vehicles that are acceptable include: John Deere XUV 550 S4
John Deere XUV 825i
Polaris General 1000EPS

How You Can Help

If you or someone you know wants to donate a used utility vehicle in running condition, or know of someone who has connections to get a good price or free – contact Tim Hetzner at 866-455-6466 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

If you would like to donate towards the purchase of one or more utility vehicles CLICK HERE

Thank you for your care in helping us serve those who are suffering. Your partnership with LCC allows us to continue bringing the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those in need.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 15:45
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