Derecho Deals Devastating Blow to South Dakota, Church of God Responds

 In All Church of God, Central, CHOG, Disaster Relief

By Carl Stagner

On Thursday, May 12, what the National Weather Service described as a derecho plowed across the Northern Plains, leaving miles of devastation in its wake. Straight line winds of over 70 miles per hour (think Category 1 hurricane), stretching across parts of South Dakota and west-central Minnesota, caused extensive damage to homes, schools, businesses, vehicles, barns, and variety of farm structures. The dust was so dense during the late-afternoon windstorm that it was dark as night for an estimated fifteen minutes. In response to the disaster that affected the congregation and community surrounding First Church of God in Marion, South Dakota, Church of God Ministries approved financial assistance.

With under a thousand residents, Marion, South Dakota, isn’t a large dot on the map; however, First Church of God wields an incredibly large influence on the community. Not only were congregants affected by costly storm damage, but so, too, were neighbors. Funds sent to First Church of God will help further establish First Church of God as an essential community resource of assistance with immediate needs of food, water, and other necessities.

“With people having no power for four or five days in a row, you lose your freezer and refrigerator full of food,” Scott Dent, pastor of First Church of God, explains. “Being there for the community—replacing a fridge full of food—that matters. Especially when you have families who live from paycheck to paycheck, and you’ve already bought your month’s worth of groceries, you’re really in a tight spot.”

The South Dakota derecho as it approached on May 12.

The congregation itself is comprised of several farming families. According to Pastor Scott, almost every farmer in the church suffered significant damage to sheds, tractors, grain bins, and more. Severe damage to grain bins can even result in insurmountable financial losses; the Church of God remains committed to covering all these farmers and affected residents in prayer.

Thankfully, the church building sustained no damage, and though the parsonage lost a few shingles, the pastor and the congregation are grateful things weren’t a lot worse.

“We’re just overwhelmingly grateful to be safe,” Scott explains, “because it’s really just things. No one in our community was injured at all. My biggest prayer is that the church can be a refuge for people to talk and express fear and grief, and that anyone that comes to our church can get the resources they need. May God allow us to be a light in a really scary time.”

Church of God Ministries is only able to respond swiftly when disaster strikes because it maintains a disaster relief fund. In crises where an immediate response is critical for relief, Church of God Ministries advances funds in anticipation of a gracious outpouring of donations from churches and individuals. Disaster Relief contributions are utilized to bring relief to those affected by disasters in Ukraine and Malawi, and far beyond.

Give now at Donations can also be mailed to Church of God Ministries, PO Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018; please note that your gift is for Disaster Relief. Learn more about Church of God Disaster Relief at Thank you!

Feature (top) collage: farm equipment and structures damaged by the derecho.

Start typing and press Enter to search