Annual Conference Special Offering to benefit disaster relief

5/1/2017

South Georgia has seen its share of storms – and then some – in the past year.

In early September 2016 South Georgia was hit by Tropical Storm Hermine and then its coastal communities were pounded again in October by Hurricane Matthew. In January, devastating storms ripped through the area, leaving death and destruction in their wake. The most affected areas of the South Georgia Conference were the South Central and Southwest Districts. The same area was again impacted in April when a tornado tore through Americus and Vienna.

In the wake of these storms and to help alleviate the suffering of friends and neighbors, thousands of South Georgia United Methodists have given selflessly and sacrificially, serving those in their own communities and around the Conference. The Conference’s disaster response team has coordinated 52 work teams and accumulated more 2,900 hours of service in the hardest hit areas.

And now each member of the South Georgia Conference has another opportunity to give to those who have been and may be affected by disasters in the future.

Each year, congregations from around the Conference faithfully receive offerings and present them during the Annual Conference session as gifts to help promote ministries and missions to help further the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This year, the Annual Conference Special Offering will be gathered and used to advance and support the South Georgia Conference Disaster Response fund to build the Conference’s capacity to respond to disasters now and in the future. Every congregation is encouraged to collect an offering prior to Annual Conference. It will then be presented during the Opening Worship service.

“Building capacity broadens our ability to respond to disasters that occur within South Georgia and throughout the connection,” said Allison Lindsey, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries. “This capacity building includes serving those experiencing devastation, training individuals for Early Response Teams and as Chainsaw Operators – who can respond here and across the connection by invitation – training case managers, training local churches to prepare as a congregation to stay so they can engage in the community when an event occurs and donations of health kits and cleaning buckets have tremendous impact.”

When a natural or civil disaster overwhelms a community’s ability to recover on its own, South Georgia’s Disaster Response ministry joins in to extend loving care to communities within the bounds of the South Georgia Conference. Wherever possible, we cooperate with other aid organizations to extend our reach.

In a holistic response to disasters, the Disaster Response team works with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to:

  • Offer early response team/disaster preparedness training.
  • Provide essential supplies and care—both physical and psychological—in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
  • Support long-term rebuilding efforts, primarily through case management, and assist communities as they adapt.
“We continue to witness powerful examples of the church being ‘Alive Together in Christ’ during our recent catastrophic events,” Lindsey said. “Helping those affected by disasters recover and walking alongside families during the long-term recovery is also an instrumental part of our involvement. That is where United Methodists have earned the reputation of being ‘the last to leave.’ We have seen severe weather threaten the south with increasing frequency and severity and this creates an urgent need to be proactive rather than reactive following an event.”

For more detailed information and to download a bulletin insert and video to use to promote the special offering, visit www.sgaumc.org/specialoffering.