Churches of Christ Disaster Relief

Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ
Churches of Christ Disaster Relief at Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ

In the early morning of Tuesday, March 3, 2020, an EF-4 tornado did devastating damage to the city of Cookeville, Tennessee. On the same night, several lesser tornados swept across middle Tennessee, including Nashville. We have discussed before the question of, “Where is God when disaster strikes?” That is where Churches of Christ Disaster Relief is involved.

When a need arises, God works through His people. One of the buildings that survived the hit was the one where the Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ meets in Cookeville. Within hours, their gymnasium became a relief center. Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc., with headquarters in Nashville, brought in truckloads of needed supplies for the hundreds of people who had lost their homes. Members of the Jefferson Avenue church came in to assist, even though they had also been affected by the storm. Area schools were closed, so teens, as well as others, showed up to help.

Before this tragedy happened, Rick Gilbert, deacon who serves as the church’s disaster relief coordinator, had taken groups of church members to Nashville to pack supplies for Churches of Christ Disaster Relief. Now they had a chance to see where those boxes go and how much they are needed. He said, “Now we see why we did what we did.”

On March 6, President Trump visited Cookeville, and Gilbert guided him on a tour of the relief center set up by the church. Gilbert said of the President, “He was touched. He was really touched.” President Trump was in the relief center for about 45 minutes, talking with people and even praying with them. The President said, “Even all of this—Churches of Christ—tremendous amounts of food and goods, and it all came within a matter of hours. So it’s a case study—a case study of what should be done and how it can be done. It’s Tennessee.”

More than that, Mr. President, it’s Christianity—God’s people following the example of Jesus.

You can read the report of this on

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Impact of a Judge on People’s Lives

Impact of a Judge
It is easy to see that both political parties in the United States, are very concerned about who is going to be appointed as judges, especially on the Supreme Court. A president serves a four-year term, but the impact of a judge can be felt for generations. Many people voted for President Trump purely to keep liberal judges off the court. The legacy of Democratic presidents has always included their choices for judges.

As an example of the concern, a major battle revolves around U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb who has consistently ruled against issues of faith. Crabb ruled that “The National Day of Prayer” was unconstitutional. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned her decision.

Judge Crabb has twice sided with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on questions of taxes. Three years ago Crabb declared that the clergy housing allowance violated the First Amendment. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had filed the suit. The Justice Department argued that the FFRF wasn’t harmed because they could claim the benefit for themselves. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed judge Crabb’s decision and restored the housing allowance.

The leaders of the FFRF applied for the benefit and were denied by the Internal Revenue Service. This fall the FFRF sued again saying that religious leaders had a preference over secular employees. Crabb has again ruled in favor of their complaint. The case will probably be appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The important point here is the intent of the benefit. Ministers provide needed services to the community. Because their pay is rather poor, the government was trying to help them with a basic expense. Secular workers are generally better paid and in most cases are not providing low cost or free services to the community. Also, the housing allowance is justified by the fact that ministers are required to live in the communities they serve.

A judge who seems to have a bias against religion can cause a hardship on many people who need the services that ministers provide. The impact of a judge, even a single judge, can affect the lives of many people with one decision.
–John N. Clayton © 2017