Idyllic, amazing…This picture is the Lyons Community Church, in Lyons, Colorado, a hamlet at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We, the youth and sponsors of St. Stephen, held a week-long Vacation Bible School at this church in July, 2013, just two months ago. As the rains have inundated these foothills these last few weeks, I am in mourning for the loss of life, limb, possessions, and this loving small township.
Lyons Community Church is 1/10 the size of St. Stephen with a heart bigger than both. It is a white clapboard church atop a rocky ridge with a basement that affronts the Main Street. Our first day into service, we met adult volunteers, Holly and Jani and Zeke, in the basement of the church fixing our breakfast and asking us to advertise the VBS with hand colored poster boards. It worked, along with Facebook, as everyday our crowd grew bigger and bigger. We started upstairs in the small old fashioned Sanctuary singing our signature Christian songs with movement and abandonment. The new pastor, Rev. Emily Flemming (spelled with two m’s), came daily to VBS with her newborn daughter, Lilly, swinging on her side as we danced and sang to “Big House” and “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”. Our schedule offered crafts and science in the tiny basement and lawn games next door at the Old Parsonage and Bible Study in the parlor, with me. On Wednesday, we made tie dyed shirts on the sidewalk in front of the basement 10 feet from Main Street. We could have sold many of our creations to the people gathering for the Blue Grass Festival the next weekend! As the kids were picked up daily, we were showered with loving comments, smiles and hugs and “Please, come back next year! You can do Vacation Bible School and construction projects here next summer.” Holly Beck and Pastor Emily and her husband, Regis, ate dinner with us one night at Smokin’ Dave’s Barbecue. Holly presented us with a Dairy Bar Gift Certificate for all of us to get their famous double dipped ice cream cones. We licked the melting ice cream with glee. We felt loved in Lyons and we reciprocated with love.
Reading the news reports about the flooding in Boulder, it was soon reported that Lyons, too, was being destroyed by the flood waters of the St.Vrain River and many of our favorite spots in Lyons were gone including the St. Vrain Market —our favorite destination each morning for sweet rolls. Lyons became an island of humanity with no electricity, sewer or water. Most of the town was evacuated elsewhere. Here are some conversations with Pastor Emily responding to my queries:
“We opened the church for first response from 2—5 a.m., then were shut down and moved to the elementary school. May be here 1—3 days, roads are out. My home has water so staying with church members and friends on a nearby hill” Wednesday, September 12, 2013
“There was no damage to the church and only minimal to our home (less than an inch of water on the ground floor), but some in our congregation lost everything. As I seek some pastoral response to this trauma and help lead the town in recovery and rebuilding, I appreciate your continued prayers and support!” Monday, September 16, 2013
And on Facebook this post: “ Please pray for the people of Lyons…Thanks for your prayers for those who have lost so much! Regis, Lillian, Leon, and I are all safe and busy helping the others.” Monday, September 16, 2013
I also wrote Maria Shupe, the Executive Director of Highlands Presbyterian Camp, (200 yards from Anne & Bob Bourland’s cabin), 3,000 feet higher in elevation, up Highway 7 to the smaller town of Allenspark. We worked there roofing an Activity Center and building a new vespers area, while staying the week in cabins during our Mission Trip. The Camp became an safe place for many during the torrential rains. Here are her words:
“It has been a 500 year flood for Lyons…We are an evacuation site for 100 folks including 47 seventh graders from another camp…”
As I watched reports on television, I saw the helicopters taking children from camp back to their parents, I recognized the topography of Highlands Presbyterian Camp. Seeing the devastation, feeling remorse for the communities affected, I and many of the sponsors and youth, who went on the Colorado Mission Trip, want to find the appropriate response to the devastation in Lyons and surrounding areas to help our new friends. Is it another mission trip there next summer? Is it a group of people helping over Christmas Break? Is it fund-raising for the community? Can you help us decide? They need your prayers; we need your prayers. Guide us all, Lord, in the upcoming days.