Bishop John Schol of the New Jersey Annual Conference is reporting on the "amazing ministry" in his Conference in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
In a letter sent to Church leaders throughout the connection, Schol says "God is blowing strong Spirit winds through the Greater New Jersey Conference," where UM churches are "feeding hundreds of people for multiple meals each day, providing clothing and shelter, giving children hope and encouragement through family activities, and becoming the central community hubs for providing resources in the hardest hit areas."
However, he says he does not wish to underestimate what lies ahead.
"Words cannot describe the devastation, chaos, and the deep emotional impact Superstorm Sandy is having on many people," he writes.
The bishop reports at least seven UM parsonages in Greater New Jersey are uninhabitable, and a number of churches have sustained flooding and other damage. The Conference Center was without power for several days but now is operating at full force, and will be adding staff to help facilitate relief and recovery efforts.
The Conference has established a GNJ Sandy Relief Fund to raise funds to repair homes of the elderly and low income residents, as well as to repair parsonages and church buildings.
"We are asking every United Methodist to help us – by first, giving as you are able to the GNJ Sandy Relief Fund. This fund will be critical to our relief effort. …For the next 150 days, people will be engaged in the initial clean-up process, helping people to return to their homes as they are able, continuing to restore power, preparing to receiving thousands of volunteers, and initial counseling for the emotional and spiritual toll this disaster has taken on so many. For the next 3-4 years we will be repairing and rebuilding homes, churches, lives and communities. This will require millions of dollars. The denomination will be raising funds on our behalf but this will not be sufficient for our complete ministry," the bishop states.
Greater New Jersey has prepared several resources to help United Methodists spread the word about the area's plight and how people can help. Download them here.
- Bulletin: (Color PDF) / (Grayscale PDF)
- Facebook post (Word)
- Twitter post (Word)
- An email you can send to friends (Word)
- Video you can share: YouTube / Vimeo
Bishop Schol concludes his letter with a reference to Jeremiah 29:11, writing, "God will see us through as we rebuild a future with hope."