By Julie Lorenz and Laurie Trujillo
Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes as a result of the LNU Lightning Complex fires, the third largest wildfire in California to date. “Unfortunately, some of our church families, including several of our NCC employees, lost their homes and/or businesses,” said President Marc Woodson. “We have been in contact with them and continue to hold them up in prayer during this really difficult time.”
During the evacuation, some Northern California Conference (NCC) churches and schools served as resource centers for evacuees. “Everyone is just pulling together and asking, ‘How can we help?’” said Robert Kurtz, St. Helena church pastor.
Five NCC schools temporarily suspended instruction, and 20 educators evacuated their homes because of the LNU fire, but principals and teachers stayed in frequent contact with school families. For example, Foothills Adventist Elementary School had optional online gatherings each day, giving students the opportunity to see their friends, show off their pets, and talk to their teachers. One student, who lost his home in the 2018 Camp Fire, spoke with his teacher every day for reassurance that his school was safe.
Currently, all NCC schools are holding classes, either online or in person. “Whether it be COVID or whether it be fire, our educators continue to come back strong,” said Lynal Ingham, associate superintendent of schools. “Our teachers do whatever they can to bring Jesus to their students.”