Willing to Be Proved Wrong, Church Leaders Prepare for Y2K

‘If nothing happens, that will be great. We’ll use the food
we’ve stored to feed the hungry’
— the Rev. Terry Threadwell

Terry Threadwell leads a small but active Christian ministry in
Asheville, N.C., working with many who are poor, homeless and drug
addicted. He worries about these people during the best of times,
but his concerns mount when he considers the threat to the whole
community that could be brought about by the year 2000 computer

In Upton, Mass., Dacia Reid also worries about the havoc that
could result from the computer glitch, and she has left her post as
a Unitarian Universalist minister to devote herself full time to
educating churchgoers and church leaders about its potential

Y2K, as the computer problem is often called, stems from the
fact that many computers and computerized systems are designed to
read only the last two digits of a date and will not be able to
distinguish the year 2000 from 1900 when the glittery ball drops on

Predictions from business leaders, politicians and computer
wizards vary greatly as to what may unfold, but most agree there
will be some level of service disruption — from minor power
outages to major tie-ups in transportation and other services.

Both Threadwell and Reid have joined the ranks of church leaders
around the country who are helping communities prepare for a
potential crisis in a way that promotes the golden rule of ‘do unto
others …’ rather than survivalist individualism.

Threadwell, pastor of Asheville City Church, is striving to help
his own community prepare for a worst-case Y2K scenario. The church
is already stockpiling food and preparing to provide basic
necessities and medical care to a community that could find itself
without power or water.

While the Y2K problems may cause little more than minor
inconveniences, he said, there also exists potential for serious
trouble. Computer glitches could keep much-needed government checks
from reaching people in his community. At the same time, power
outages could close banks that would cash those checks, as well as
lead to all sorts of problems, from halting food distribution to
limiting people’s ability to cook the food they do have.

‘This church is in a poor area with lots of drugs. If there’s no
food, there’s going to be looting and rioting. We want to be able
to feed people. This is a good opportunity for the church to do
something useful,’ Threadwell said.

While preparing for possible chaos, Threadwell said he is not a
‘fear monger’ and wants only to be prepared to serve his community
if there’s a need. ‘If nothing happens, that will be great. We’ll
use the food we’ve stored to feed the hungry.’

That fear of being wrong and predicting a crisis that may not
come is one of the challenges he said he must overcome as he tries
to encourage other local churches to become involved in preparing
for Y2K. ‘Some ministers are hesitant to put their names out there
in case nothing happens,’ he added. Still, four churches in the
area are at various stages of considering the possibility that they
will join Threadwell in his efforts.

Reid contributes to Y2K preparedness efforts by promoting
awareness through a comprehensive web site with many links (at
http:\\www.uuy2k.org) and by using her skills as a preacher. Though
she left her post at the helm of a Massachusetts church to devote
herself to what she considers a mission, she still takes to the
pulpit to help educate The Unitarian Universalist community about
possible ramifications of Y2K.

‘We’re all computer users whether we’ve ever touched a keyboard
or not. We’re dependent on them. The average person needs to know
that and think about this before there’s a crisis,’ Reid said.

She said she often uses the Titanic to create an analogy about
the need to prepare. ‘The ship was such a powerful technological
wonder, but there should have been more life jackets just in case.
Despite our faith in technology, as a society, we need to be
prepared for a possible breakdown that would come in the year 2000.
‘We need a life jacket for Y2K,’ she added.

‘Preparedness is one of the major solutions. Most people could
take some steps to being prepared personally,’ Reid said. ‘But
there are some who can’t prepare; they’re homeless, elderly,
disabled. It’s the responsibility of the rest of us to meet their
needs in the event of an infrastructure disruption.’

Dacia Reid, the UUY2K Project, Upton, Mass., 508-529-4458; e-mail:
revdacia@uuy2k.org; web
site: www.uuy2k.org. Terry Threadwell, pastor, Asheville
City Church, Asheville, N.C., 828-232-1914; fax: 828- 683-4887;
e-mail: hebron01@aol.com; web
site: www.hebronministries.org.

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