How a Church Became a Community Hub During a Disaster

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Michael Elsdon, Community Life Pastor at the Okotoks Evangelical Free Church in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada, was just learning the church’s new church management software, Fellowship One, when the region’s worst natural disaster—a massive flash flood—buried several towns in water.


With thousands of people displaced and utter chaos in the area, Elsdon became a one-man mobile unit, with everything he needed at his fingertips. Within a few days, he was able to track down and locate every displaced church attendee using his Fellowship One software. The church then leveraged its database to communicate with its members and assess their needs, and shared its building with another church that lost everything except a paper membership directory.

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When a community need was identified (from providing money, food, and basic items to church families hosting up to four extra families, to finding a guitar player to calm hundreds of restless citizens evacuated to a rec center), Elsdon was able to access his member database and message delivery system from wherever he happened to be. The church put a link on its home page to enable people to create accounts to stay up to date and in the system. Even people from outside the church community utilized this resource.

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Though we hope our software is never needed for disasters such as this, it is cloud-based to survive calamity and to enable the extra level of management required at such times. Elsdon’s story reflects the type of community leadership we’re proud to support with our technology:

  • Quick assessment of all members’ whereabouts
  • Mobilization of volunteers
  • Cross-matching with community and congregational needs
  • Centralized, reliable information dispatch
  • Community outreach and assistance