With temperatures reaching the mid to upper 90s and an excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service, several air-conditioned churches in Belmont County opened their doors to provide relief to the public Thursday. They are scheduled to do so again today.
Ida Mae Cummins, Grace Presbyterian member and office manager, said no one had yet taken advantage of her air-conditioned church Thursday afternoon. But the cooler was outside for those who needed a quick drink.
“I think everybody is staying home, laying low,” Cummins said.
At Lincoln Avenue United Methodist Church, Shadyside, the Rev. Randy Weaver said his church also was serving as a cooling station, but no one had entered yet for relief. However, a youth group from Pittsburgh doing work in the area was taking advantage of the church’s hospitality by eating lunch there each day.
Weaver noted people who need heat relief and a ride to the church can call 740-676-5936 between 9a.m. and 5 p.m. today to arrange to be picked up.
Lansing United Methodist Church member Emily Mroczkowski said her church also can pick up people in need of relief — call 740-635-9260. Since becoming pastor at Lansing UMC, the Rev. Julianne Gebbie said she is always impressed by how her parishioners take care of their community.
“I’ve said in the past, if I was in trouble, these are the people I’d want to be around,” Gebbie said. “They are always there to help.”
During a long winter power outage, one parishioner brought generators to the church so food could be cooked to feed residents. And during the 2004 floods, residents lived there for three days, and parishioners cooked the flood victims breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Gebbie noted Lansing UMC would be open again today as a cooling shelter.
“Everyone is welcome. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are,” she said.
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