Prayers and relief dollars needed in Southern California

October 24, 2007

Southern California can use every bit of prayer and help…”

 – Keith Hwang, Director of Connectional Ministries, Cal-Pacific Annual Conference


Bishop Beverly J. Shamana has responded to Rev. Hwang’s comment with a letter to California-Pacific Annual Conference promising the prayers of our churches for those battling a natural disaster of unimaginable scale in Southern California.


In a letter to Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Bishop Shamana wrote, “We lift our prayers for you and your church leaders, for the families of congregations and the entire community at this time of great concern over the wildfires.”


Wildfires fueled by the hot Santa Ana winds continue to consume large portions of Southern California, particularly heavily-populated areas surrounding San Diego and Los Angeles. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is in close contact with Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of the California-Pacific Annual Conference.


“In addition to an emergency grant to support the conference in its initial efforts, disaster response consultants are at the ready to provide the conference with their presence and guidance as needed,” says the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, head of UMCOR’s domestic disaster response.


Persons wishing to make a contribution should write UMCOR Advance
#901670, Domestic Disaster Response – California wildfires, on the memo
line of the check and turn it in to their local church treasurer or mail
to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087.


In hills and canyons from Santa Barbara to San Diego, about 8,000 firefighters are battling more than a dozen blazes that have scorched at least 645 square miles (1,670 square kilometers), an area twice the size of New York City. Five people have died and 1,644 structures have been destroyed.


Close to 1 million persons have evacuated their homes in the largest evacuation in the country since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.


Pastors and congregations of five United Methodist Churches are among the evacuees, according to the San Diego District website. Several other United Methodist congregations remain closely affected although it isn’t known that any United Methodist churches have been damaged by the fires as of yet.


“As always UMCOR offers its prayers and support to those in need,” says Sam Dixon, UMCOR’s chief executive. “We ask for your generous donations to the domestic disaster response advance as recent emergencies have depleted the funds we use to provide relief and support in disasters such as these.”