Churches open doors to victims of Hurricane Ian

Reporter: Annalise Iraola Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Churches are opening their doors to the people who lost their places of worship during Hurricane Ian.

On Good Friday, people got together for various types of services.

Some churches are accommodating more people by offering live streams of Easter Service.

Fort Myers Beach’s oldest church, Chapel by the Sea, was severely damaged by Hurricane Ian. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t have a place to worship.

Beach Baptist Church made changes after Hurricane Ian by holding most of its services online. Despite the hardship, Pastor Shawn Crister said they learned what it means to be a church.

“When they gather here together, and they’re volunteering together, that’s their new fellowship. When they’re able to serve, that’s their giving. So they’re able to take their faith that says, you know, we’re here to serve our community, be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Pastor Crister said.

This weekend is just the second in-person service since Ian. They’ll meet on the first floor which serves as their choice market food pantry too.

Mally Critser is a lifelong member of the church.

“This isn’t going to stop anybody from worshipping and celebrating our Christ rising from the dead. I mean, that’s just such a huge thing for us that a hurricane is minuscule compared to that,” Critser said.

Ian became a sign for Peace Lutheran Church Paster Andreas Stein.

“If God spared our building is in there is a calling to, you know, really take care of so many people and as many organization as we can,” Pastor Stein said.

Peace Lutheran opened its doors to worshippers of all faiths. For him and many others, Good Friday and Easter weekend are especially powerful this year.

“For so many, these last six months was a resurrection experience when they lost everything there was to lose. And suddenly we’re homeless and suddenly wondered if there will be a tomorrow. And then six months later, or five months later or so, realizing here we are, you know, we are still blessed. We are still alive, we are still thriving. That is resurrection,” Pastor Stein said.

The religious holiday is all about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And, even if you aren’t a religious person, the way that Fort Myers Beach and surrounding communities have risen from the destruction is a triumph worth celebrating no matter the day.

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