By Rev. Garth Duke-Barton, Conference Secretary for Global Ministries
While it did not directly affect us, Hurricane Ian did have an indirect effect on people in my church. Thankfully their loved ones in Ft. Myers are safe. We wondered what can we do to help those who lost everything? What did we do before? We gave – and can give - to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)!
Where do the funds go? Just a few examples: In 2006 Katrina caused extensive damage along the Gulf Coast. UMCOR was there with relief supplies, grants, and work teams until 2013. After Hurricane Michael raced across the Panhandle of Florida and devastated parts of Alabama and Georgia, UMCOR was there for two years. The same could be said of every named hurricane that has hit the US in the last 40 plus years. Every time there was a disaster UMCOR was there to help and stayed until the work was done.
In 2019, Hurricane Dorian threatened the East coast of the United States and Canada. It came ashore in North Carolina and again in Nova Scotia. The worst damage happened in the Bahamas. The United Methodist Church does not have a church in the Bahamas but UMCOR responded. Dorian left people without jobs, food, clothing, or shelter. The Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA) formed a partnership with UMCOR to help those in need. Together they helped to rebuild and repair homes for people where possible. In places where it was not immediately possible to rebuild homes, the residents were temporarily relocated to less affected islands. UMCOR also worked with the local people to prepare a shelter for evacuees of future storms.
UMCOR quietly continues to work in places like the Bahamas and the Gulf Coast and Kentucky and Southwest Georgia and now Southwest Florida, too. UMCOR is already working in Southwest Florida through individuals needed to assess the damage and organize the relief efforts and work teams. In addition, The United Methodist Church is represented by others with unique skill sets. One of my church members, retired from Georgia Power, sent me a text saying he was on his way to the area to restore power.
Give to UMCOR so they can continue to be there for the long term in these and other places across the world.
For more on US disasters go to umcmission.org/united-states-disaster-response/
. To give to those in need send checks to the conference marked for the Advance # 901670.
For more on international disasters go to umcmission.org/international-disaster-response/
. To give to those in need send checks to the conference marked for the Advance # 982450.
Rev. Garth Duke-Barton, pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Jesup, also serves as Conference Secretary for Global Ministries.