Church Aid Groups Respond to Brutal Snow Storms

A brutal mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain plowed across the Great Lakes states and to the Northeast on Sunday, forcing many residents, including churchgoers, to stay indoors.

Hazardous road conditions and winter storm warnings from the National Weather Service prompted many churches to cancel Sunday services.

"I don't want folks to venture out because we're having church and they feel obligated," said the Rev. Glenn Mortimer who called off services at Wakefield-Lynnfield United Methodist Church in Wakefield, Mass., according to The Associated Press. More than a foot of snow had already fallen on parts of Massachusetts and some people still hadn't completely dug out from a storm, Mortimer noted.

Every available plow truck was out shoveling snow in Vermont, where more than 10 inches of snow fell. Michigan was also left with nearly a foot of snow. Classes were canceled for Monday in school districts across the region.

In Pennsylvania, about 160,000 households were without power on Sunday, according to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Before reaching New England, the big winter storm barreled across the Midwest on Saturday. Tens of thousands of homes were already blacked out from the first storm that hit Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri earlier in the week.

Churches have already dispatched disaster relief groups to provide food and shelter to residents without electricity and to help clean up downed trees. Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief kitchens supplied meals for 17 Red Cross shelters in Tulsa and Miami and several Baptist churches, including Trinity International Baptist Church, in Oklahoma City opened their doors as shelters.

"More than one person this morning thanked me profusely for using our facilities. There's a wonderful sense of gratitude," said Deron Spoo, pastor of First Baptist Church in Tulsa. "I think people are just happy to be out of the cold," according to Baptist Press.

The church had housed hundreds of people.

The Salvation Army has opened local centers across the Midwest providing meals, warmth and a place for worship and service for residents without power. After the first major storm, the Midwest Salvation Army emergency disaster services teams were on standby to assist as needed.

At least 38 people died, mostly in traffic accidents, last week during the ice storm in the Midwest.