Jan. 25, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Susan Vuyovich
Kendrix Gavin and Victoria Scott of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College light candles for tsunami victims.
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Breisch, a student at United Methodist-related University of Puget
Sound, was vacationing with her family at a resort area of Khoa Lak,
Thailand, when the Dec. 26 tsunami hit.
Her 15-year-old sister, Kali, died. Her 16-year-old brother, Jai, barely survived.
Thomas, president of the Tacoma, Wash., university, says Breisch wanted
people to hear about her experience. “Shonti asks that we share her
family’s story to help others appreciate the magnitude of what has
happened, the resilience of the Thai people and the miracle of her
brother’s survival,” he said.
the waves crashed over South Asia and Africa, many college students
were on holiday break. On many campuses, officials are checking on
students from the affected areas and hearing stories like Shonti’s.
the same time, a tidal wave of response is on the way from returning
students and faculty as they plan prayer vigils, concerts, spaghetti
suppers and other creative fund raisers in response to the disaster,
which left more than 200,000 dead and millions homeless.
I know of the strong commitment to service at the United
Methodist-related colleges and universities, I am not surprised by the
immediate and generous response of our students, faculty and staff,”
says Wanda D. Bigham, executive with the United Methodist Board of
Higher Education and Ministry. “It has been my experience that there is a
true concern for helping people in need both at home and abroad. In the
aftermath of this terrible tragedy, our college communities have moved
quickly and creatively to offer assistance.”
Scott, a student at Mississippi (Perkinston) Gulf Coast Community
College, is spearheading the relief effort for the Wesley Foundation on
that campus. The mission is personal and real for the students because
they sponsor a 7-year-old boy, Casmito, who lives in Indonesia. The
students have been sending money and letters to Casmito for the past
year through Compassion International.
“Victoria has been our contact person for our sponsored child, writing
him often, making certain enough funds are collect each month for our
pledge,” says Susan Vuyovich, director of campus ministry. “We have not
yet heard from our child but have heard from Compassion, and if he was
in his village, he should be safe. We are praying so!”
|A UMNS photo by Susan Vuyovich
Casmito has been adopted by students at Mississippi (Perkinston) Gulf Coast Community College.
weekly love offering will be collected during the campus-wide vespers
service until the end of the semester for victims of the tsunami,
A “change war” was waged on the campus of United Methodist-related Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., and $400 was raised.
a community, we have been overcome with emotion after seeing images and
hearing about the widespread devastation in Southeast Asia,” says the
Rev. Tiffany Padgitt, chaplain. “We wanted to help our brothers and
sisters who have been affected by the tsunami, and also let them know
that they are in our thoughts and prayers.”
missions committee of Lambuth’s Religious Life Council sponsored the
change war Jan. 10-17. Buckets sponsored by different organizations and
athletic teams were placed in the cafeteria and at basketball games.
realize that college students understand the great need for aid created
by tsunami disaster but feel unable to help because of our lack of
finances,” says Jennifer Brough, a student member of the missions
committee who helped create the project. “We decided to do a change war
because we can all give a little and together it will add up to provide
some relief for the victims.”
Concerts and dinners
faculty members of Emory University in Atlanta were in the affected
areas on Dec. 26 and are staying, using their personal resources, to
help with recovery and rebuilding until the spring semester begins,
university officials report. Students will station tables around the
campus for six hours a day to collect money for the relief fund, and
they will hold a benefit concert featuring student performances during
the week of Jan. 24.
core group of international students from India, Sri Lanka and
Indonesia has been the catalyst for the University of Cincinnati’s
response, says Jeanne Smith, campus minister.
Tsunami Victims & Orphan Relief Coalition held a multifaith
fund-raising dinner Jan. 22 at the Memorial Hall of Cincinnati Music
Hall. Smith presented the Christian prayer.
Wesley Foundation will host monthly dinners to raise funds by providing
the campus and community with authentic South Asia and African cuisine
and programs detailing culture and relief efforts in the countries
affected,” she says.
posters” and canisters are being placed throughout the campus at North
Central College, Naperville, Ill., to help students understand the
tragedy, says Alycia Capone, assistant director of ministry and service.
Ministry and Service Department, along with North Central College,
understand that this tragedy will have long-term effects, and we have
committed to support our Southeast Asia neighbors throughout the
rebuilding of their lives.”
at a Holston Annual (regional) Conference young adults event, Divine
Rhythm, are being asked to donate relief kits to the United Methodist
Committee on Relief. The weekend conference for ages 18-35, held Jan.
21-23, drew 500 participants.
Rev. Christine Henchar Reed, a United Methodist chaplain at Converse
College in Spartanburg, S.C., is helping two students from Sri Lanka
collect donations for their home church, St. Mary’s Church in Ratmalana,
church (St. Mary’s) has been acting as a homeless shelter since the
storm, providing housing and meals, and our students’ mother has been
cooking meals around the clock,” she says.
Joining in prayer
Many colleges are holding multifaith services on their campuses. Hamline
University in St. Paul, Minn., held a “Remembering Indian Ocean
Tsunami” service with participants from Christian, Islamic, Buddhist,
Jewish and Hindu traditions.
|A UMNS photo by Rick Schmidt
Students at Lambuth University raise money for tsunami relief.
students and staff from different countries led the service, says the
Rev. Theresa Mason. Rituals included “a Hindu flower offering, a
Buddhist water pouring in remembrance of those who died, Tibetan
Buddhist prayer flags, a Jewish Kaddish, new United Methodist hymns
about the tsunami, Muslim chanting and lighting candles,” she says.
Students have set a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of the year.
initiated plans for a ‘teach-in’ when spring term starts,” Mason
continues. “The teach-in will give us all more opportunities to learn
about our sisters and brothers in nations which were affected, and
respond to the questions it raises scientifically and theologically.
Students are planning a fund-raising dinner in connection with the
the campus of United Methodist-related Ferrum (Va.) College, a campaign
for tsunami relief will be integrated into the religion course
“Understanding Mission: A Biblical Perspective.” Funds raised will go to
College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, has used a ballroom dancing club
demonstration, all-campus talent show, the showing of a Southeast Asian
film and a social event for faculty members to raise funds. Cornell’s
crocheting club, “Knot Just for Grannies,” is also teaching crocheting
so interested people can create blankets to donate to the Red Cross.
tragic circumstances of the tsunami that ravaged parts of Asia and
Africa (have) galvanized a worldwide response from religious
communities,” says the Rev. Luther Felder, executive with the Board of
Higher Education and Ministry. “I am especially, gratified, though not
surprised, to see the tremendous support young people active in our
United Methodist -related campus ministries, schools, colleges and
universities have given to the relief effort. They have helped to
demonstrate that the cause Christ has no boundaries.”
to UMCOR’s “South Asia Emergency” relief efforts can be placed in local
church offering plates or sent directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Drive,
Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Designate checks for UMCOR Advance #274305
and “South Asia Emergency.” Credit-card donations can be made online at
www.methodistrelief.org or by calling (800) 554-8583.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.