Northern California continues to be threatened by over 20 wildfires which have consumed 214,000 acres, destroyed more than 5,700 structures, and led to the evacuation of over 100,000 people. There are still hundreds of people missing, and the death toll is now at 38 people. Firefighters from throughout California and several western states are working around the clock to gain control of these fires which are pose a great threat due to changing weather conditions and increasing wind.

“We continue to pray for the over 10,000 men and women who are risking their lives in fighting these fires. They are the true heroes of this terrible tragedy,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. “While we offer words of comfort and support for those displaced, for those who have lost their homes, and for those whose loved ones have perished in these fires, we know that the only true comfort comes from the Lord. We pray for His strength, mercy and grace during these more difficult times.”

Parishioners from the communities of the Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Novato, CA, and Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Vallejo, CA remain evacuated, with several yet unsure if their homes have been destroyed in these fires. Two families, one from each of these parishes, have lost everything in these fires and we especially offer to them our prayers and support as they face this tragedy.

Cooking In Novato

Local area churches which are serving as temporary shelters are being treated to some Greek cooking, thanks for the stewards of the Nativity of Christ Church which came together and prepared twenty pans of Pastitsio. The parish continues to be in contact with neighboring churches to offer support and assistance as they care for those who are without homes.

We are grateful to the many people who have come forward to open their homes for those displaced from the fires. We have not been notified of parishioners requiring shelter at this time, but as this situation remains uncertain, we will reach out should the need arise.

Several people have inquired as to what they can do – from near or far – to offer support and assistance. Because it will take some of these families weeks, if not months or longer, to be able to return to their homes, gift cards to local retailers such as Safeway, Target, WalMart, Costco or gas stations are welcome. These should be directed to:

Rev. Fr. John Kocolas
Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church
ATTN: Disaster Relief
1110 Highland Drive
Novato, CA 94949

Rev. Fr. Nebojsa Pantic 
Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church
ATTN: Disaster Relief
1224 Alabama Street
Vallejo, CA 94590

Thank you for your ongoing support. Please join us by offering this prayer:

O Lord Our God, Whose peace surpasses all understanding and Whose grace and mercy abound, send down your Holy Spirit to comfort those who are suffering in mind, body and spirit as a result of the devastating fires in California. We ask that You stretch forth Your mighty hand during this time of uncertainty, steadying us by Your love, compassion and peace. Grant strength to those who are fighting these fires, calm the winds, and open the heavens so that rain may pour forth and cease further destruction. We especially ask for Your blessings and protection upon all those who have fled their homes, that they may be spared injury, and that their homes may be preserved. May You also grant peaceful repose to those whose lives have been lost, as well as comfort to those who are grieving. For You are a merciful and loving God, and to You we give Glory, to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Hero photo courtesy of Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times