Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton visited the communities of Washington and Gifford Tuesday (Nov. 19) to meet with pastors, disaster response officials and to examine how The United Methodist Church may be of assistance in disaster areas.
Bishop Keaton has requested and the United Methodist Committee on Relief has approved, a $10,000 initial grant to assist with disaster cleanup, recovery and assistance. The Bishop is also urging IGRC churches to take a special offering on Sunday, Nov. 24 for the Conference Disaster Response Fund (Advance Special #6800), that will supplement the UMCOR grant.
Persons are urged to give to this fund and requested not to designate their gift to any one location. This will enable the conference to respond to needs and give them the flexibility to address emerging needs as they develop rather than being restricted to one geographic area.
Here's an update as of this morning (Nov. 20, 2013)
Information posted Monday, November 18, 9 a.m.
Give what you to our church wide effort to address massive human needs so that folk know the church universal cares about them. As Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR Assistant General Secretary for U.S. Disaster Response said, "As large as the monster Sandy is, the church is larger and more powerful in its preparations, its spirit and its capacity to be here for years to come.
Bishop Gregory Palmer shares a letter from Bishop Deborah Kiesey of the Dakotas Area as a follow-up on the current flooding situation in the Dakotas.
Just as Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms when they grew tired, will you join me in prayer for those whose arms are growing weary? Would you also pray for God to guide you how you might be a healing presence -- whether it is financially or by going to one of these affected areas and being the healing presence of Christ.
There is an urgent and acute need to intensify our response here at home. Much of the southern tip of Illinois lies beneath flood waters. Roads remain closed, schools are closed and people have moved from their homes due to high water. As the waters begin to recede, now is time for the church to mobilize in a big way and be ready to respond. Volunteers will be needed throughout the summer and many hands will be needed to help people throughout the entire region of southern Illinois.
Here are four very specific ways you may join in this effort.
Over the last ten days we have been witnesses to life changing disruptions from flood and tornados. In the last few days we have watched the damage, injury and loss of human life across a wide region of the United States but especially Alabama. I have already felt us praying together in behalf of our sisters and brothers most acutely affected by the havoc. Thank you. I also feel you mobilizing your physical energies and financial resources to do what we do which is to help and heal. You are remarkable.
Every natural disaster reminds us of the valuable ministry our connection provides through the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Over the past five years, UMCOR's capacity has been stretched to serve the needs in earthquake ravaged Haiti and even more recently, in the upper Midwest, with flooding in Iowa. This is by no means a complete list of all that UMCOR does in the name of Jesus with your help and support.
But our mission and the mission of UMCOR is one that circles the globe. UMCOR was there and remains in Southeast Asia where a tsunami hit in December 2004 and they also have a presence in flood-stricken Pakistan.
As you look for ways to provide a loving witness to our sisters and brothers, consider the following ways in which you can be a part:
- Be in prayer for not only the storm victims but for those who come to lend a hand. Pray especially for public safety officials and utility line personnel who will log an enormous number of hours as these communities begin the journey toward normalcy.
- Prepare teams of personnel to travel to Streator and Dwight to volunteer. If you have particular gifts, such as carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, construction or cooking, you indeed are gifted for this type of ministry. But even if you don’t, there is a place for general manual labor that can be a healing presence to those who have lived through these storms.
- Encourage your congregation to take up a special offering to provide financial resources for the IGRC Conference Disaster Relief Fund - IGRC Advance # 6800. We are just at the beginning of the storm season. Having funds in hand enables us to respond when the need arises.
Additionally, conference staff are arranging disaster response and pastoral care training. Prayerfully consider attending and become equipped for this much needed type of ministry.