Trio of Disasters Calls for Our Response
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I come before you again to ask your prayers and support. This time it is for members of our community who have been dealt a terrible blow. This week, as you no doubt are aware, a trio of natural disasters wreaked havoc on the homelands of many of our Conference members.
On Sunday, Typhoon Ketsana struck the island of Luzon in the Philippines. At least 246 people perished and nearly half a million others were displaced when flash floods and landslides washed away their homes. The BBC reports that 80% of Manila is under water.
Two days later four tsunamis caused by a massive undersea quake crashed into Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga, killing some 147 people and displacing another 32,000. There still are many people unaccounted for, particularly in Tonga, and it is feared that the death toll will go much higher.
Then on Wednesday, a major earthquake struck West Sumatra in Indonesia, a country still not fully recovered from the horrific 2004 tsunami.
As your bishop, I offer my deepest condolences and ask that we uphold the victims of these disasters in our prayers - particularly those among us who are grieving the loss of loved ones or for whom the landscape of "home" has been forever changed. Let us reach out to them in love and compassion, sharing their sorrows as we share their joys, and standing in solidarity with them in this difficult time.
As United Methodists we have another means of support available to us, as well. Through your generosity, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is able to go into these areas of crisis and provide both immediate and long-term help to those who are suffering.
UMCOR Philippines already is working with its local partners, including Action by Churches Together (ACT) and the National Council of Churches, to distribute emergency provisions including bottled water, blankets, canned fish, and rice. It anticipates expanding the response through local and international partners, in addition to partnering with the Manila Episcopal area, including local church disaster response coordinators. You may support UMCOR's relief work in the Philippines through Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance #240235.
UMCOR's Domestic Disaster Response unit has been in touch with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is assessing needs and exploring ways to respond to the tsunami disaster. To help people in Samoa and Tonga affected by the tsunamis, you may give through UMCOR's International Disaster Response: UMCOR Advance #982450, and specify "South Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami."
In Indonesia, UMCOR is working closely with its partners in the earthquake area, including Church World Service, to assess the needs and coordinate an appropriate response. UMCOR Indonesia continues to help those affected by the 2005 tsunami and the 30 year conflict that preceded it. To support the relief efforts, you may contribute to Indonesia Emergency, UMCOR Advance #217400.
Please consider giving generously to support UMCOR's relief work in these areas of devastation. You may make online donations by visiting http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/ and clicking on "GIVE NOW," under "HOW TO HELP" on the upper right corner of the page.