Please send any donations to the New Jersey District LC-MS, 1168 Springfield Ave.,
Mountainside, NJ 07092, marked for the NJ District Hurricane Fund . These monies can
be matched by LCMS-World Relief up to $30,000.
Pastor Rieker part of Katrina relief
NJ District helps our church and four retired pastors
Hurricane disaster response update
Two (or more) from OSLC head to Gulf
Team going 11/19/05
Pastor Herzberg’s visit
January 2005 update
Pastor Rieker Part of Katrina Relief
As of 9/16, LCMS World Relief/Human Care Ministry has sent 18 pastors from 11 states
into the areas of devastation in the Southern District of the LCMS. Pastor Eric Rieker
from NJ is part of the second team to be sent, arriving in Mississippi on Monday 9/12.
Pastors of the Southern District report that the response team’s presence and support has
been of great assistance with the dramatically increased pastoral care load, and is greatly
appreciated. One of Pastor Rieker's first stops was at the Church of the Pines in
Waveland, MS. It had extensive water damage from five feet of water in the building.
Days later he was ministering to needs in Pascagoula, AL, when his team received an
urgent call to address a crisis situation in Mobile.
NJ District Helps Our Church and Four Retired Pastors
Following the massive destruction of Hurricane Katrina in the states that make up the
Southern District of the LCMS, the Council of Presidents, along with the Office of the
President of Synod, have developed a disaster response plan to address the needs of
LCMS congregations, church workers and church members. The plan will be coordinated
by LCMS World Relief/Human Care Ministries. Although still unfolding, the plan calls
for LCMS World Relief to provide Districts with either a congregation and contact
person in one of the 50 Southern District congregations damaged by the hurricane, or
contact with church workers who have suffered severe loss. The NJ District has been
provided the names of four retired Pastors, three evacuated from New Orleans and one in
Mississippi. In conjunction with the New England District, we will work to reestablish
the Church of the Pines in Waveland, MS.
This connection with church workers and a congregation in need allows the
congregations of the NJ District to specifically PRAY for people and their needs. A needs
assessment of the church workers will be determined. As soon as possible, a Care Team
will be sent from NJ providing a ministry of PRESENCE by sending clergy, counselors
and critical support personnel to the workers’ location(s). Eventually, we can help work
on reconstruction of church workers’ homes and bring financial resources to bear on local
needs. We will seek to be Good Stewards of God’s gifts by drawing on public and other
sources of support for reconstruction.
A NJ District Hurricane Response Fund has been established to receive gifts and supply
needed relief. The four retired pastors are: Rev. James Taglauer and wife Doris from
New Orleans who have evacuated to a campground in Missouri. They are safe, but their
home plus the home of adult children and families were destroyed. Rev. Leo Symmank
and wife Rosemerle, of New Orleans, have relocated to a brother’s house in Texas. Rev.
Victor Moritz also of New Orleans. Rev. Richard Kuehnert of Poplar, MS.
NJ District Mission and Ministry Facilitator, Tony Bracco, and Administrative Assistant,
Sandy Ramirez, are coordinating Relief and Response efforts from the District office.
They are now seeking creative ways through which we may find out the condition and
needs of these servants of Jesus Christ who have fled their homes, in the face of the
Hurricane Disaster Response Update
The NJ District office has been keeping in touch with the 4 retired pastors that we were
assigned by LCMS World Relief and wanted to give you all an update on what has been
taking place with each of them.
Pastor & Mrs. Richard Kuehnert in Poplarville, MS did sustain some damage to their
home but most damage was debris that had fallen on their property. A member from
Our Savior, Fair Lawn has gone down to help with removing trees and debris. Their
insurance has covered some, but not all of the damages. He estimates about $4,000 will
need to come out of his pocket. They also have 4 grown children whose loss of income,
home damages, etc. have so far totaled approximately $28,000.
Pastor & Mrs. Leo Symmank are still residing with a brother in Texas. They were able to
go to their home in New Orleans with 2 sons and meet with insurance adjusters. That
time was a very difficult one as they discovered that their home had become a total loss.
They reported that the stench, mildew and water was almost too much to bear. Pastor
Symmank has given us a figure of their monetary loss so far at approximately $3,000.
Pastor & Mrs. Jim Taglauer have moved from their campground in Missouri back to a
daughter’s house in Louisiana and we are awaiting word on his losses. He also had
several children in the area who have experienced much in the way of loss. We
provided money to the Taglauer’s to help with expenses incurred for travel of their
families from Missouri back to New Orleans.
We were finally able to locate after an LCMS wide search, Pastor & Mrs. Vic Moritz.
They are a very elderly couple who left Louisiana with a grown daughter and went to
Rolla, MO. We know they also have lost their home, 2 cars, and the daughter is without
work. We are staying in touch with them to find ways to help.
As you can see, the needs are great. A couple of these pastors have given most of any
savings they had to children who also lost much. In the very near future, we will
probably be getting requests from these pastors to have people come down and help
clean up properties so that rebuilding can begin.
We have received as a district about $2,000 for hurricane relief funds. We have
already sent a check to one of the pastors for $1,000. LCMS World Relief is matching
up to $30,000 for districts helping hurricane victims. Please consider sending your
donations to the NJ District Hurricane Fund so that we may begin to distribute fairly
to these pastors & their families. If you are able to help by going down with a team,
providing supplies, etc., please call the district office so that we can coordinate
what is being done. We know that we will continue to have considerable future
needs for help, so we ask that you continue to give your members an ongoing
opportunity to support this effort. Thanks for all your support to date!
Two (Or More) from OSLC Head to Gulf
Our Savior, Fair Lawn, has two members who are personally involved in Hurricane
Katrina relief efforts: Pete Ricciardi is readying to travel to Poplarville, MS to assist in the
cleanup of the home and area where retired Pr. Richard Kuehnert lived. Pastor Kuehnert
was Pete's confirmation pastor in CT and is also one of four retired pastors assigned to
our NJ District to "adopt" and assist. Pete was planning to leave the week of October 30,
taking time off from work and utilizing his experience with chainsaws. And Cathy
Hochkeppel has been assigned to head one of the FEMA field offices in Baton Rouge, LA
and is now there for approximately one month of service. We invite you to keep these
members in your prayers.
Team going 11/19/05
We wanted to update you on the latest report of a group going down to one of our
Pastor's in the Gulf region. A firm date has been set of Sat., 11/19 and returning on or
about Thanksgiving, 11/24 for a team to go down and help with some ground clearing.
There is room for one more "ground hand" to go during this time. If you have any
questions please contact the following:
office # - 800-448-9850
cell# - 845-216-4355
home # - 201-398-9894
email - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
In the coming weeks and months, there will be other opportunities for teams to help out
our other pastors and their families. The three who have completely lost their homes
will be in need of people to help in the clean-up phase and removing of anything
Remember also, that the monetary help is still very much needed. The requests from
the pastors and their families will continue to mount up, especially for those whose
family members have lost jobs, benefits, etc. Please send any donations to the NJ
District Hurricane Fund. These monies can be matched by LCMS-World Relief up to
Thanks to all of you for your efforts in reaching out to our fellow church workers and
Pastor Herzberg’s visit
Pastor Terry Herzberg, along with a couple of members from his church; Peter Ricciardi
and his father-in-law, Howard Crumb, recently went to New Orleans to help clear debris
from Pastor Kuehnert's property (one of our retired pastors that we as a district are
Following are some "highlights" from Terry regarding his time down in New Orleans.
"Pete & Neal (Pete's brother-in-law, from Georgia) operated the chainsaws, cutting
down many trees that the hurricane had either ruined or topped ... plus all the
branches... Howard and I were the "grunts," lugging the branches, big and small
from the woods to pile, then all of us loading them onto a borrowed trailer to take
down to the main ditch by the main road near the Kuehnert home. It was very hard
work...and we stayed at it... I was pretty exhausted each evening... The Kuehnerts
have a little cabin near their newer home, where the other 3 stayed, and I got royal
treatment in their guest bedroom. We got a lot done but nowhere near all the debris
work left further into his woods (he has 10+ acres). We were also able to go spend
a morning helping do debris & tree removal at the place of an 80 year-old woman, a
friend of the Kuehnerts, whose son, by the way, was one of the 26 Waveland, MS
policemen who clung to a tree more than 5 hours as the highest of storm surges and
flooding water (29+ feet) engulfed Waveland, the police headquarters, etc. We met
Gary, who was lucky to be alive... I drove along the Gulf coast on the Friday morning
before flying back, and it still looks totally devastated although I have no idea how
bad it looked 3 months ago.
Pete, Howard and Neal drove back to New Jersey on Thanksgiving Day, while I followed
the Kuehnerts into New Orleans, where they were going to join their 4 daughters for
their meal. They showed me their old church, St. John, on Canal Street, which survived,
but the neighborhood is filled with piles of debris. We said goodbye after they showed
me Atonement, Matairie, where Lutheran Disaster Relief has a camp on their parking
area and I basically helped serve (and eat!) for about 4 hours. The Rev. Dave Lewis,
Lutheran Disaster Relief Coordinator for that area, told me that there are a good 400+
homes still waiting to be cleaned out. There are various camps set up around and he
recommended that everyone check lcmsworldmission.org/relief for updates. After that,
I drove alone through parts of New Orleans, through some pretty bleak-looking
neighborhoods, downtown to the French Quarter and then off to find a hotel near
My impression is that life is only getting more difficult ...with more depression
(according to my relief worker plane seatmate). They definitely can use more "boots on
As the holidays approach, remember our retired pastors that we are supporting and if
you are able, consider taking some time to go down and help. Also, see the enclosed
bulletin insert for ideas or call the NJ District office for information. The NJ District is
sending each of the 4 retired pastors a cash grant from the NJ District Hurricane Relief
HURRICANE RESPONSE UPDATE
Thank you for all you are doing to raise up "servant/leaders" in your congregations.
From various church newsletters I receive, it is clear people are responding as
individuals and as congregations working together. I thank several congregations for
having fundraisers in support of the four retired pastors of the Southern District, with
whom LCMS World Relief has connected us, to assist in their time of need. Thus far the
N J District has received just about $12,400 for the Hurricane Response Fund. We need
to reach $30,000 in gifts in order to reach the matching fund level from LCMS World
Relief. Thus far $10,000 has been disbursed, not counting the promised $7500 for
Pastor Moritz's home.
By early December 2005 sufficient funds were received from congregations and
individuals to allow $1000 to be sent to each of the four retired pastors in the Southern
District. Pastor Kuehnert's enthusiastic thank-you letter indicated he was going to
purchase a trailer to assist in hauling away the tree debris from his property and those
of his aged neighbors. Pastor Terry Herzberg led a four-man cleanup team who worked
around Pastor Kuehnert's property.
Additional funds were received from the St. Luke's Paterson Mission Fund to allow
another $1000 check to be sent to each of the four pastors.
Three of the pastors' homes were badly damaged in New Orleans. Pastor Leo Symmank
in his thank-you letter expressed regret that all their furniture, most of it family
heirlooms, was destroyed. This includes furniture on the second floor because the water
was so deep. The home has been gutted to the studs to get rid of the mold.
Pastor Victor Moritz' home has been visited by a reconstruction team from the Nebraska
District. The team has agreed to stay in New Orleans and will begin reconstruction
around January 9.
I authorized the $7500 needed to install new dry wall, with the hope that congregations
and individuals will replenish the NJ District Hurricane Relief Fund. The cost of the
project, if one paid a contractor, would be about $30,000. Jim Rinaldi's company is
providing the paint.
In addition to the team from Our Savior, Fair Lawn, a plumber from St. Peter, Hopewell,
has been staying and working at the Church of the Pines, Waveland, MS. He indicates
there is a continuing need to help church families restore their homes. A work team
from St. Paul, Flemington, is making plans to head south in the near future.
Rev. William R. Klettke, President