Pastors support WV families

Pastors in a town gripped by the reality of 13 trapped miners are joining together to bring comfort to the affected families.

BY HEATHER MOYER | TALLMANSVILLE, W. Va. | January 3, 2006



"The community has been fantastic and the families see the community supporting them."

—Rev. Mark Flynn


Pastors in a town gripped by the reality of 13 trapped miners are joining together to bring comfort to the affected families.

Many people are now even more on edge after a Tuesday afternoon briefing where mine officials said final news on whether the 13 men are still alive could come as early as Tuesday night.

The families of the trapped miners are still hopeful, said the Rev. Mark Flynn. "I've seen folks with a lot of faith," said Flynn, pastor of First United Methodist Church in nearby Buckhannon. "I have been very impressed with a lot of folks with whom I've talked. The mood was different after this morning's briefing (from the mining company), but I've not yet talked to anybody totally without hope."

Flynn, along with pastors from all over the area, has been supporting the families since the word of the mine explosion came Monday morning. The families have been staying in the Sago Baptist Church across from the Sago Mine in Tallmansville.

"Many of the families here have their own pastors with them, and then some of the rest of us are looking out for those who have no church connection or are from some distance away and don't have anybody nearby," explained Flynn. "We've all cooperated well with each other. We try to be available to everyone and not push ourselves on anyone."

The entire community has come out to support the affected families. Church and business signs around Buckhannon have phrases of encouragement and prayer on them.

Restaurants are providing food to feed the families and rescue workers. Faith groups have enacted prayer chains and planned prayer vigils. Several of Flynn's own church members are housing American Red Cross volunteers in town assisting the response.

"The community has been fantastic and the families see the community supporting them," said Flynn.

He added that while the families know they are being supported community-wide, he's not sure that they know yet just how many people are thinking of them.

"Many of them came straight to the church when word of the trapped miners came out," explained Flynn. "They've been here since it happened, and they're not watching the television. They're waiting for briefings. I was asked, 'do these folks know that people all over the world are praying for them?' I'm not sure they know that just yet. But they do know the local community supports them."

And while Buckhannon is not what people would view as a 'mining town,' added Flynn, it is still close-knit. "Mining isn't the whole economy here, but Buckhannon is a small enough town that it's a place where people care about each other. It's a place where if 13 people are affected by disaster, most of the community will know someone related to it. It really hits our community hard, and in a sense, it hits the whole state hard."


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