As Texas became dark across the state this week because of power outages caused by Winter Storm Uri, several Burleson churches opened their doors to serve as warming centers.
“We went into warp speed mode to provide for people who lost power and water,” OpenDoor Church Executive Community Pastor Doug Riggs said. “We’ve opened up our building and we’ve had people who have been donating things and wanting to volunteer and we’re just coordinating all that.”
They were able to provide for others thanks to a giant generator owned by the church, said Troy Brewer, senior pastor.
“We have room for at least 150 people and if we actually have to house more we actually can,” Brewer said. “We are actually preparing for 1,000 people to take care of them 24/7.”
Soon Pathway Church in Burleson started pitching in to help as well.
“We did a lot of hurricane recovery work so that’s how we knew what to do with this situation,” said Kari Fletcher with Pathway Church. “We knew we needed cots, bedding and food immediately. We had the right people in the right places. We had all the resources that I feel we need. And we just jump in with both feet and get it started.”
Anywhere from 40 to 70 people have come each day, and volunteers like Maegan Haynes of Burleson are showing up to help.
“I’m a nurse and I just wanted to offer anything that I could,” Haynes said. “I came up here and everybody that I’ve been talking to said they’ve been treated better than they’ve ever been treated.”
Others have helped, whether it’s cooking meals or donating bedding and food, Fletcher said.
Riggs prefers to consider the volunteering as the fruit instead of work.
“We’ve been putting in some long hours but I don’t know that I would call it work,” he said. “It’s more like fruit and that’s the fun of it.
“There’s just a joy in everything that’s happening. Just staying connected to the father and letting him use us.”
The entire effort could not be done alone, Brewer said. It is coordination between the city of Burleson, Mayor Chris Fletcher, First Baptist Church, Burleson Church of Christ, Pathway Church, Fort Worth police and fire departments and others.
“I’m so grateful we have the facility and we have the teams of people here that are taking care of these people,” he said. “It’s an amazing demonstration of goodness of what’s on this community.”
Riggs said that has been his favorite part of the entire experience.
“Just watching the community work together,” he said. “Churches, city and even all the way up through state and national guard and the way people are just coming together to provide resources. That is a beautiful thing to watch.
“I think people are going to see that King Jesus loves them incredibly and that they have friends and they are not alone. And that we as a community really work together and we care. Man, I just think it’s going to be the basis for some really good things in the future.”
The church will be open as long as people need shelter, and they want people to know they can come anytime.
“If you’re cold and you need a warm place to stay, come to Open Door Church,” Haynes said. “There are people here serving. There is food. This place is warm. You don’t have to be alone. And there is shelter. There is a place for you to go.”
For information, if you need help or to volunteer your time, call 877-413-0888.