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Storms & Rebuilds in the Synod of the Sun

So far 2023 has reminded us of the importance of our ministry together: to be prepared for disaster events and to check in on one another when they inevitably occur in our communities across the Synod. Below are some reports from those directly impacted by winter storms and tornadoes over the past months across Texas. And if you keep reading, you’ll find a celebration of one rebuilding project completed by dedicated folks in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

We are continuing to monitor the needs arising in Arkansas, so stay tuned to the Synod newsletter and social media accounts as the response and recovery efforts develop.


Winter Storm impacts John Knox Ranch

A multi-day ice and sleet event caused widespread tree damage across John Knox Ranch.

Beginning on January 30, 2023, a multi-day ice and sleet event occurred across much of North and Central Texas, resulting in 400,000 Texans without electricity, several hundred traffic accidents, and up to 88 consecutive hours at or below freezing in some parts of Texas.

Below is a letter from Henry Owen, John Knox Ranch’s Executive Director:

Like much of the Texas hill country, John Knox Ranch was hit hard by the ice storm of February 1, 2023.

It was surreal to walk around camp and see so many broken limbs and trees all over. We are so sad about the loss of trees but grateful that we only had minimal damage to buildings and structures.

Ten days after the winter storm, JKR invited volunteers to help begin the clean up process.

On February 11th, only ten days after the ice storm, we hosted a volunteer day and the community really showed up! The 58 volunteers who worked that day were community members, former counselors, camper alumni, current staff, alumni campers, current campers, camper parents, pastors in Mission Presbytery, members of Mission Presbytery churches, and JKR committee members.

We are so grateful for the JKR community and how much you love this sacred space. Thank you to all the individuals and churches who have volunteered or sent donations to help cover clean-up and repair costs.

JKR welcomed 58 volunteers who helped clear downed trees after a Winter Storm.

The effort is ongoing. There is still much to do. If you feel called to volunteer please visit our website: and send us an email. If you feel called to make a donation to help cover clean-up and repair costs please visit

Thank you!

Henry Owen,

Executive Director, John Knox Ranch

John Knox Ranch is a ministry of Mission Presbytery dedicated to fostering experiences of Christian community in the beauty of God's creation. JKR offers summer and day camps to children and youth and retreat opportunities to the broader community.


Tornado impacts First Presbyterian Church of Pasadena, TX

FPC/Pasadena was impacted by one of the tornadoes on January 24, 2023.

In late January, a severe line of thunderstorms moved across southeast Texas, producing damaging winds and multiple tornadoes across the region. The biggest tornado of the day caused substantial damage within the cities of Pasadena, Deer Park, and Baytown.

Below is a letter from Bonnie Keith, Clerk of Session of First Presbyterian Church in Pasadena:

On Tuesday, January 24, 2023, a tornado came through Pasadena and Deer Park, Texas. First Presbyterian Church was on the edge of its path. We were very fortunate because our damage was significantly less than homes a block away. A large window under the porte cochère was shattered. The steeple shifted 6 or 7 inches to the north and two Plexiglass panels were blown out, one of which was found in the yard behind the church.

A tornado caused the steeple to shift 6 or 7 inches to the north and blew out two two Plexiglass panels.

The Early Childhood Program sign in the yard was snapped off its legs. There was roof damage to a storage shed and the recycling box for collecting cans was destroyed. Six hundred feet of shared fencing was knocked down and damaged. Two trees were snapped in half, two trees were uprooted, and numerous trees had major branches broken off. The property was covered with litter from nearby homes and a construction site across the street. The church building was closed for two days until power was restored.

We were blessed because our financial secretary called her husband, who contacted the chainsaw gang from the Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief Team at They came in and sawed up trees and branches one day and returned to move the debris with a skid loader to the curb. They also extended aid to individual families in the area.

The church received a grant from the PC(USA) [PDA], a donation from Oaks Presbyterian of Houston, and insurance money, all of which are covering the bulk of the recovery expenses. A few of our members had fences or trees down, but no one had major damage. Some of the men of the church helped those who needed it.

Our community still has a number of blue tarps on roofs and there were homes that were completely destroyed. The miracle of that day is that the tornado hit just as schools were being let out, but there were no fatalities and just one injury. We are very thankful.

Bonnie Keith

Clerk of Session, First Presbyterian Church - Pasadena, Texas


Home Rebuilt & Blessed after Hurricane Laura

The long term recovery work of PSL and PDA was celebrated in the new home of the Leday family.

A local news outlet in Lake Charles, Louisiana featured the work of the Presbytery of South Louisiana and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in supporting the Leday family who are now in their newly built home:

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - There are many across SWLA who are still attempting to recover from the damage that Hurricane Laura caused. But one Lake Charles family can finally put that behind them in the safety of their new home.

Like many, the Leday family had been living in an apartment since the storm. Now, thanks to the hard work of many volunteers, they can rest easy alongside their granddaughter in a new permanent home.

As the Ledays moved in, members of Presbytery South of Louisiana came out to bless the home alongside the volunteers that made this possible.

Operations director Greta Willis said, “They just been so touched and so moved by this whole project, and we are so happy to be able to give this House to them and have them have a place. That they can call home and they can be proud of and they can feel a real part of their community.”

Copyright 2023 KPLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to see a short video of the Home Blessing:

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