May 28, 2020 | by JB Brayfindley
“Consider these questions when you want to help,” said Sonja Edd-Bennett, California-Nevada Annual Conference Director of Disaster Response. During the CNUMC Wednesday webinar on May 27 at 4:00 p.m. Edd-Bennett emphasized planning to respond by reflecting on questions. “What is the need? Who are you trying to help? What are your resources? What is your capacity? And, don’t do it alone—connect with your pastor and church and other community organizations.”
More than 67 people attended from across the conference. The webinar moved quickly into a different Zoom platform where chat rooms of four to five individuals were created for participants to unmute their computer microphones and share feelings and ideas about their preparedness during the current pandemic.
“I wish I could have been more sensitive to others’ fears,” said one.
“I wished we would have conducted a survey of the congregations’ technological connectivity last year,” said another.
“I want to reach out more to shut ins…” states a third with several agreeing adding, “and the homeless.”
Edd-Bennett noted that preparedness plans are not a “one-size-fits-all” sort of affair.
“It all depends on your community and needs,” Edd-Bennett said. She listed the various common disasters in California as earthquakes, fire and drought. In Nevada, she added the need for winter storm watches. “…and, I don’t want to sound depressing, but economic disasters, too.”
“Preparedness does away with panic,” Edd-Bennett added. She listed the Red Cross and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) as trusted resources available to assist in preparing for a crisis. She introduced upcoming preparedness trainings entitled, “The Connecting Neighbors,” developed for individuals, groups and entire churches as an important aspect of being prepared.
The Connecting Neighbors curriculum by UMCOR is for broad use by dedicated volunteers who are willing to facilitate workshops and webinars with the goal of equipping congregations and communities to minimize disaster-caused harm to people and property. The curriculum also intends to inspire congregations and communities to respond to their neighbors in helpful, cooperative and caring ways on behalf of the church and in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
The training curriculum consists of an overview of disaster ministry, three modules and supporting handouts.
Module 1: Ready Congregants - prepares individuals and families to be disaster-ready.
Module 2: Ready Churches - emphasizes the importance of protecting church property and the people within the property, before and immediately following a disaster, and of appropriate use of church property in disaster response.
Module 3: Ready Response - encourages churches to explore their capacity for various disaster response ministries and to consider ways to engage community partners.
According to the UMCOR website, this curriculum incorporates knowledge and experience gleaned over many years by dedicated volunteers who have served their neighbors on behalf of the church. Information is also included from other organizations and community partners - most notably the American Red Cross, National Disaster Interfaith Network and FEMA. UMCOR is grateful to these partners for providing public access to helpful resources.
UMCOR is also part of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD, pronounced ‘vō – æd’) where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle—preparation, response and recovery—to help disaster survivors and their communities.
“I am here to remind you to prepare and to help you be intentional about your disaster response,” said Edd-Bennett. “We are the ones who people come to in a crisis—God people. Why do others come to faith leaders in a crisis?” asked Edd-Bennett.
The chat section of the screen filled up with ideas: hope, safety, security, counseling, help, wise words…
“Yes, you are all right, you know the reasons,” said Edd-Bennett. “That is why you want to have a plan and be prepared.”
To access the UMCOR curriculum resources, click on the links below:
Curriculum – PPT
Facilitator notes – PDF
Participant manual – PDF
To sign up for the upcoming CNUMC online virtual trainings on Saturdays, June 6th and July 11, 2020, contact Sonja Edd-Bennett, Director of Disaster Response at SonjaEB@calnevumc.org, (916) 374-1525. Or register at the CNUMC website (https://www.cnumc.org) under the side bar labeled “Disaster Response Ministry.” Click on the “View Upcoming Trainings” tab under the “Volunteer Involvement and Training” heading to reach the registration links.
Next Wednesday’s webinar will be a panel discussion featuring youth and young adults from around the conference speaking on how younger people have been impacted by the pandemic and how ministry has been unfolding.
To register for this and other upcoming webinars, visit the conference website at https://www.cnumc.org and click on the webinar tab on the Home Page.