By Sonja Edd-Bennett
Director, CA-NV Annual Conference Disaster Response Ministry
The California-Nevada Annual Conference recently participated in a milestone event: a summit for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), Conference Disaster Response Coordinators (CDRC), and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Held October 8-11 at the beautiful Alton L. Collins Retreat Center just outside Portland, Oregon, it was the first ever UMVIM/CDRC/UMCOR meeting of the Western Jurisdiction.
The Rev. Jorge Domingues (CA-NV Director of Connectional Ministries), Leslie Carmichael (Early Response Team Coordinator), Shari Sandoval (CA-NV UMVIM Coordinator) and I represented California-Nevada in sharing, learning, and leading with next steps.
With increased disaster response and recovery activity happening throughout the world, the Western Jurisdiction recognizes the need for increased communication and connection – not only between annual conferences, but more specifically between those coordinating UMVIM teams and those serving as Conference Disaster Response Coordinators. And although not every UMVIM team is serving disaster recovery, their role is so critical to the conversation that Angela Overstreet, Consultant with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, was also present to provide insight and take back suggestions for trainings and additional support.
A major focus of the week was on the need to standardize systems across the jurisdiction, as a means to increase connection and improve training. Participants also received updates from other conferences, collaborated on planning the upcoming WJ Disaster Academy coming up in March 2019, and shared best practices.
“It was helpful to build relationships with other conferences and get new ideas on increasing communication between church teams and the conference UMVIM office,” Shari reflected.
All of us agreed that one of the most exciting updates is the new insurance application for UMVIM teams. Shari has linked it to the CNUMC UMVIM webpage and encourages all teams to begin using this process and discussing their trips with her office. For more information, she can be reached at ShariS@CalNevUMC.org or 916-374-1528. Download team leader information here.
Finally, a definite highlight of the week for all was hearing from, and praying for the incredible ministry of, Bishop Catherine Kagwiria Mutua, the Bishop of the Kaaga Synod of the Methodist Church in Kenya, and Stanley Gitari, Director of Community Health at the Maua Methodist Hospital. Many teams from throughout the Connection have partnered with these two, and it was a blessing to hear how God continues to work in and through the Methodist Church to affect the lives of those in Kenya.