Bishop issues pastoral letter on Hurricane Harvey


Bishop issues pastoral letter on Hurricane Harvey

Dear IGRC family,

What can we do?
I've heard that question over and over as the news of those affected by Hurricane Harvey's destructive forces are made known. Because United Methodists are people of action, we often wish to be able to do something to assist. I am writing to encourage your participation in ministry to those suffering from this storm by offering a few suggestions on what we can do together.
As with any disaster, we United Methodists, through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are already organizing and positioning ourselves for the time it will take to get the region back on its feet. It is often said that UMCOR is one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave following a disaster.
Let me offer some guidance on how we can be most effective in lending a hand without adding to the misery through the wrong kind of response.

  1. Pray first! This is something that we all can do. Pray for those affected by the storms (remember, they are survivors, not victims), as well as their families, first responders, churches and pastors. Prayer is essential to our efforts making an eternal difference.
  2. Be patient. There is a tendency to want to go to the disaster site. But before rebuilding and recovery can begin, waters must recede and assessments must be done.  Our Conference Communications team will be keeping us informed as information from the Rio Grande and Texas Annual Conferences become available. Wait until we are officially invited.
  3. Be helpful. While it is true that persons lost clothing and other physical items, we do harm when we overwhelm them with our hand-me-downs when they come at the wrong time and are not needed. Cash donations are the best means for providing UMCOR the flexibility it needs. When you give to UMCOR, 100 percent of your gift will be directed to the designated need - a claim other charitable organizations cannot make. Our apportionments and UMCOR Sunday offering pay for the administrative overhead that makes this happen. You can give through your local church to General Advance #901670 and designate it to Hurricane Harvey. You may also donate online at:
  4. Begin small. Get a Sunday School Class or a Bible Study Group, or another group of interested folks and assemble flood buckets for UMCOR. Our own Midwest Mission Distribution Center is part of the UMCOR network and they are already busy shipping flood buckets to the area. But in order to be able to respond, we must replenish the flood buckets. Information on how to assemble the UMCOR flood buckets can be found at: These buckets have all of the essential items needed to assist people with cleanup once the waters recede.
  5. Get training in early disaster response. This training could open the door for your leadership and or service on future work teams. Our Conference Disaster Response Team regularly hosts training events throughout the conference. If your church would like to train a number of volunteers, trainers will come to you. Contact Christy Blickensderfer ( in the conference office for more information. Among the upcoming training events are an Early Response training at Fairfield First UMC on Sept. 23 and a Disaster Response Mini-Academy Sept. 29-30 at East Bay Camp in Hudson. Visit the Conference Disaster Response webpage ( for more details and a link for registering online.
I would also ask that each IGRC congregation take a special offering during September for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. You choose which Sunday. We may not all be able to give equally, but we each can participate in alleviating human suffering. The offering can be sent to the Conference office where it will be promptly routed to the disaster area through UMCOR. Designate the offering for Hurricane Harvey.

We are standing at the beginning of a long journey with our sisters and brothers in Texas. The longest journey still begins with just one step. Let's make sure our steps are measured and helpful with the goal of bringing health and wholeness as the hands and feet of Jesus. Blessings to each of you for caring.
Thanks for your willingness to help!

God Bless

Bishop Frank J. Beard