(UMNS) - The United Methodist Council of Bishops has issued a Churchwide Appeal for Philippines Disasters in response to the multiple typhoons that have struck the country.
The appeal, which was announced November 19, will provide humanitarian relief and support for the ministries of The United Methodist Church in the Philippines.
In late September and October, four typhoons - Ketsana, Parma, Lupit and Mirinae - hit the Philippines, leaving more than a thousand dead and an estimated 1.3 million people displaced. Causing drowning, landslides and electrocutions, the storms also had a disastrous impact on farmlands, houses and infrastructure. The country faces a public health emergency and is struggling to fight outbreaks of infection.
"Can you imagine all the small villages near a mountainside being buried and thousands of lives lost?" asked Bishop Leo A. Soriano (at left), episcopal leader of the Davao Area. "Our people are so very sad because they have lost their wives and husbands, their children, their loved ones. Their homes are gone. Crops and livestock have disappeared. They have no livelihood."
The storms and flooding affected more than 200,000 United Methodists in 1,372 local churches.
"The greatest needs facing the Filipino people are rehabilitation programs for their destroyed houses, livelihood, rice and vegetable farms," said Bishop Lito Cabacungan Tangonan of the Manila Episcopal Area. "For The United Methodist Church, there is also a need for repairs and renovation of the churches affected by the typhoon and floods."
The United Methodist Committee on Relief has started distributing relief supplies to displaced families, working with other organizations as well as local volunteers through its UMCOR Philippines Office.
With support from several Asian American bishops and the National Association of Filipino American United Methodists, Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Baguio Area showed a moving presentation to fellow bishops during the council's November 2-5 meeting at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, displaying the graphic devastation in the Philippines. The bishops then voted on a special appeal.
"Everybody was silent," Soriano said. "No discussions. No questions. They simply approved it immediately."
The bishops are developing the appeal with support from the General Council on Finance and Administration, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and United Methodist Communications - in partnership with the Philippines Central Conference College of Bishops.
Bishops are asking the denomination's Annual (regional) Conferences and local churches to designate a Sunday to give congregations an opportunity to participate in the Churchwide Appeal.
Donations may be made directly through local churches. Conference treasurers will forward contributions to the General Council on Finance and Administration, No. 818-002-PHP. In addition, givers may donate online at umcappeal.org.