Northern California Fire Relief Update

Dr. David Whitaker, Executive Director,
Next Generation Churches

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Sonoma and neighboring counties continue to struggle as they slowly begin the rebuilding efforts that will be years in the making. As the churches in these communities band together to serve their communities, our NextGen churches have been right in the middle of the relief, as they partner also with the broader church in their cities, much being done under the auspices of TBC (Transforming the Bay with Christ).

In the mean time, NextGen has been raising funds from our network of churches and coordinating efforts with two of our churches right in the middle of this devastation: Pastor Bret Avlakeotes of Spring Hills Church and Tim Swanson and Ben Cunningham of Redemption Hill Church.

To date, NextGen has raised $70,100.00 from amongst its member churches for recovery efforts!

With the leadership of our partners on the ground, we are focusing our efforts and finances on two fronts: 1) adopting families who lost homes and 2) caring for the pastors in these communities, 15 who lost their homes.


There are two online forms, one for those families who need help and those individuals and churches who want to give help.  We’re going to be utilizing the latter (unless you know of people in need).

1. If a church would like to offer non-cash items to help (cars, acreage or rentals in the area, motorhomes, etc.), have your church liaison connect with our NG liaison, Ben Cunningham. At this moment, there’s not a need for clothes or hygiene items. 

2. If you are interested in adopting a family (or families), have your church liaison fill out the resource form.  This will help the organizers know what people have to offer.  As you fill out the form, please reference Redemption Hill Church so that the team will know you are connected to us.  Redemption Hill will serve as an intermediary between our churches and these families.  The reason why they are the middle man is to have personal contact with the specific family.   

3. Once that online form is filled out by your church, the resources that are offered are put down on an “Asset Sheet".  As needs come in, the local teams who are monitoring the needs and the assets will get in touch with our NextGen church, who in turn, will reach out to your church’s liaison and make arrangements.  You can always email  Ben with questions. 


If you would rather simply give financially to the adopt a family program, your gifts to NextGen Churches Fire Relief fund will continue to support these families and will also be used to provide funds for Pastoral Support.


There are 15 pastors/ministry leaders, from across denominational lines, who have lost their homes, including Methodist, Anglican, Calvary Chapel, Community Church, Baptist churches, along with a Chinese, Samoan and Hispanic congregations.  Numbers of them are living with friends, in hotels, at Christian camps and even staying in trailers on church property.  The parsonage is making a comeback!  One is a worship pastor who moved out from North Carolina just a few months ago and just got their new apartment furnished.  Welcome to California. 

Many of these church leaders have relayed just how challenging it’s been to care for both their family and congregations.  Many have kids who are struggling with the trauma of leaving their homes in a short amount of time.  There is much work to do and care to show. While this fire has brought so much heartache, the unity of the body of Christ is undeniably present.

Your funds will be used for counseling help, assisting churches to understand their pastor’s and their family’s needs; retreat, help with housing and materials, ministry assistance, salaries (some churches were hit hard with families who have had to move away).

Our local NextGen pastors and their churches are doing an incredible job in ministering to their own churches and working with other pastors and community organizations to meet the incredible weight of needs and opportunity. I’m so very grateful that NextGen can and has already generously gotten behind this effort.

Feel free to contact our office (408-782-1145) for further questions on how we can serve these communities in Northern California in practical ways…to let our gospel communities and message shine for the glory of Christ. You can continue to donate through our website, or by mailing your donations to: NextGen Churches, P.O.Box 2610, Morgan Hill, CA 95038.

Thank you, for being a part of our NextGen family!