|Relief office in Philippines offers help, hope|
Edarte (right) helps Bishops Lito Tangonan (left), Leo A. Soriano
(center) and Rodolfo Alfonso Juan cut the ribbon July 24 at the opening
celebration of the new UMCOR Phillipines office. UMNS photos by Melissa
By Melissa Hinnen*
July 28, 2009 | CAVITE, Philippines (UMNS)
The Salakot Chapel was overflowing as nearly 200 people celebrated the grand opening of UMCOR Philippines.
Bishops, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries
directors, disaster response coordinators, district superintendents and
volunteers participated in the celebration at the new office for the
United Methodist Committee on Relief, about 50 miles south of Manila.
“Your presence tells me that this is a joint ministry to serve the
most vulnerable and to bring help and hope to this part of the world,”
the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR’s top executive, told the crowd during the
July 24 ceremony.
He spoke of the prophetic vision of Joseph, who in the seven years
of plenty, put aside resources so that people would have enough to eat
during the time of famine that was to come. “Through UMCOR Philippines,
we are being prepared, storing up our resources and our experience so
that when a disaster happens, we can prevent a bad thing from becoming
worse,” he said.
Disaster response coordinators in the Philippines present their response
plans at a three-day workshop.
The relief agency’s new office, based on the campus of Union
Theological Seminary in Cavite, establishes a field presence in Asia as
well as an on-site storage facility for material resources.
Bishop Rodolfo Alfonso Juan of the Baguio Episcopal Area accepted
the new office building, declaring, “Jesus told us, ‘I don’t have hands
but yours.’ UMCOR is an agent of hope and I accept this new office on
behalf of the connection to use for the honor and glory of God.”
Members of the community brought gifts to the altar, including
blankets representing hospitality, the traditional salakot hat as a
reminder of God’s workers in the field and the protection the hat
provides and a painting by a local artist that depicts the images and
stories of the people.
Bishop Leo Soriano of the Davao Episcopal Area led the dedication,
calling it a way of “giving hope to those who shall come and even those
who will be sent, to the service of the many volunteers who will work
and share, to the ministry of administration and service and
Disaster response training
For three full days before the opening, Melissa Crutchfield, the
UMCOR executive in charge of international disaster response, and Lisa
Jackson, another staff executive, led workshops on developing a
disaster response plan.
Participants identified areas of concern in each of their regions,
partners they can work with in a disaster situation and supplies and
resources they have or can develop to help them through the emergency
response phase of a disaster.
“While many of them conceptually know most of this information,”
Crutchfield said, “actually thinking through each stage and writing
down contact information and a plan of action now will be much more
effective than trying to pull together the specific information when a
Text messaging is a primary means of communication in the
Philippines. When Crutchfield sent out a practice emergency alert via
text to each of the coordinators they were able to walk through the
drill with their team, coming up with responses to each of the
“The time will come that we will need to put this plan into action,”
Dixon told the participants. “Your time and leadership here will save
time and lives when a typhoon, fire, flood or civil conflict presents a
disaster in your region. Thank you for having the will to put your
faith into action to care for needs of those in your communities.”
More information on UMCOR Philippines, including how to volunteer, is available through Ciony Eduarte, office manager, at CEduarte@umcor.org. Support for the new office can be made through Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance #240235.
*Hinnen is the staff writer for UMCOR communications.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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