California Churches Cope with Surge of Wildfires

As wildfires rage across California, fueled by dry weather and strong winds, Christian churches are doing their best to operate in a difficult environment and step up to help those in need.

Sebastopol (Calif.) Christian Church was unable to worship at its building on Sunday due to mandatory evacuations.

That community was being threatened by the Kincade Fire near Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 2 million people had no power because of electrical company blackouts, and more than 180,000 people were evacuated. The fire has consumed more than 66,000 acres, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Sebastopol Christian Church pastor Jim Swaney, in a Facebook video to the congregation, said the church had planned to have an acoustic service on Sunday if power still was shut off to the church building. However, a 3 a.m. mandatory evacuation order thwarted those plans.

“Everybody had to leave. Everybody had to go find a place of safety,” he said.

Swaney asked the congregation to email him prayer requests.

“Let’s hope that the evacuations are over soon,” he said. “Let’s pray together that God would stop the winds and the fires and keep everyone safe.”

Meanwhile, Real Life Church in Valencia—which is north of Los Angeles—began collecting a list of items late last week for firefighters and families evacuated as a result of the Tick Fire. The church promoted a community emergency care drive that was seeking 3,000 bottles of water, 2,000 apples, and 2,000 servings of trail mix, among other items.

“Our prayers are with all the families and first responders as they fight this fire,” the church said via Facebook.

The Tick Fire has thus far burned more than 4,500 acres. Ten thousand homes and structures have been threatened by the fire, and at least 22 structures have been destroyed. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.

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