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Montserrat: Church Leaders Pray While Volcano Threatens

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders at its Inter-American regional headquarters ask church leaders and members across the world to pray for fellow Adventists on the island of Montserrat as volcanic activity threatens to affect yet again what's left of th

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders at its Inter-American regional headquarters ask church leaders and members across the world to pray for fellow Adventists on the island of Montserrat as volcanic activity threatens to affect yet again what’s left of the Adventist community there. The government has issued warnings of a possible evacuation.

“We ask for your prayers on behalf of our people in Montserrat,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, during a Jan. 10 committee meeting.

“The infrastructure of the church there has suffered tremendously before and they need your prayers,” he added.

A large eruption in 1997 of the Soufrière Hills volcano destroyed six of seven Adventist churches, two schools, several properties and took the lives of two church members. That destruction left two-thirds of the island uninhabitable including the capital city, the island’s airport and crop areas.

Pastor Eugene Daniel, president of the church in the Caribbean Union Conference, said that they are very concerned for the nearly 500 remaining church members who are worshiping in the one church left on the island.

According to Pastor Daniel before the 1997 eruption the church membership in the island was more than 12,000 but most relocated to Antigua and other neighboring islands.

“The church is prepared to respond in assisting those in need,” Pastor Daniel said. “The plan in mind is to temporarily assist in the evacuation of church members and community members to new locations with the help of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency [ADRA] in the region,” he added.

ADRA Inter-America is prepared to jump in and assist with funds, said Wally Amundson, ADRA Inter-America director. An Emergency Refuge Center to house 100 people was built shortly after the 1997 eruption, Amundson added.  Amundson said the center is functional with a full kitchen and supplies to assist those needing relocation.

Since its first eruption in 1995, causing pyroclastic flows and mudflows, the Soufrière Hills volcano has become one of the most closely monitored volcanoes in the world.

Montserrat is located in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea, measuring approximately 10 miles long and 7 miles wide and is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.