Sept. 9, 2005
|A UMNS photo by The Rev. Larry Hollon
Rev. Pattye Hewitt, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church
of Slidell, La., tells the Rev. Randy Day about how the church was
flooded following Hurricane Katrina.
By United Methodist News Service
United Methodist Church’s relief agency says an urgent need remains for
hurricane-relief supplies at its distribution center in Louisiana.
Sager Brown Depot no longer needs donations of bottled water, but other
items are in short supply, including health kits, school kits, new sets
of twin sheets, new pillows, new blankets and new air mattresses. The
United Methodist Committee on Relief uses the depot in Baldwin, La., for
processing aid supplies to points around the world.
depot has set up a call center and is contacting shelters and other
facilities handling hurricane evacuees to inquire about their need for
supplies, according to Gwen Redding, executive director. The depot also
will dispatch supplies, upon request, to the denomination’s annual
conferences, she said. Such requests usually come through the conference
disaster response coordinator.
of Sept. 8, UMCOR had received just more than $2 million in online and
telephone contributions for Hurricane Katrina relief. That figure did
not include donations made by mail or through offerings given to local
Indian conference responds
Methodist churches, annual (regional) conferences, agencies and
individuals are responding in many ways to the crisis left behind by
Hurricane Katrina, which struck Louisiana and Mississippi Aug. 29.
For example, the
church’s Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference is working to assist
Hurricane Katrina survivors both within that state and in the Gulf
|A UMNS photo courtesy of FEMA/Mark Wolfe
People who lost property due to Hurricane Katrina search through donated goods in Gulfport, Miss.
conference’s first work team, about a dozen people, left Sept. 7 for
the Biloxi, Miss., area, according to Phillis McCarty, conference
disaster coordinator. "We felt like we wanted to do something to help,"
she said. "We’ve got at least two work teams lined up and maybe more."
members also are "playing a huge role" in providing services at Camp
Gruber, a former military facility near Muskogee, where more than 1,400
people displaced by Hurricane Katrina are being housed, according to the
Rev. David Wilson, conference superintendent.
State Rep. Barbara Staggs, D-Muskogee, told the Muskogee Phoenix
that the evacuees, who arrived Sept. 3, could be there as long as a
year. Some 272 school-age children will attend area schools.
pastors were providing support at the camp, including counseling
services. The Rev. Anita Phillips, pastor of Fife Memorial United
Methodist Church and dean of students at Bacone College in Muskogee, is
leading that response.
also has met with residents of small towns in southeast Oklahoma that
are receiving more displaced persons and who may use United Methodist
sites for evacuees.
Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference works among Native Americans in
Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas and includes 39 tribes and 89 local churches.
Women focus on poverty
Lois Dauway, an
executive with the Women’s Division, United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, is encouraging United Methodist Women to work ecumenically
to address some of the deep root causes that victimized people during
|A UMNS photo courtesy FEMA/Liz Roll
Baby supplies are being stored in Slidell, La., before shipment to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
should be responding with our time and charity," Dauway said. "But it’s
also time to respond so that such devastation doesn’t happen the next
time a tragedy occurs. We need to ensure systems are in place so our
most vulnerable are protected. We need to find solutions for poverty,
racism and other injustices so the ‘have-nots’ are not left behind
advocate effectively, she added, United Methodist Women need to lift
voices with others of faith, such as through the organization "Faith
Voices for the Common Good."
organization is urging people to call their U.S. senators and
congressional representatives at (800) 426-8073 to protest the fact that
congressional committees have instructions to cut $35 billion from
mandatory programs by Sept. 16. Programs assisting the poor, elderly and
disabled that are facing cuts include Medicaid, Food Stamps, Medicare,
the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
(welfare) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Bishop speaks on DVD
response to the hurricane, Bishop John R. Schol released a pastoral
message on DVD to the 692 churches throughout the denomination’s
Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference. The conference said
it believed this was the first time a bishop had spoken to every United
Methodist in the churches in his or her area on the same day.
the six-minute pastoral talk, Schol informed people about the scope of
the disaster for United Methodists, outlined a number of ways to provide
assistance, spoke about the suffering so many are experiencing and
asked people who couldn’t become directly involved in disaster relief to
be active in their own communities in honor of the victims.
was a wonderful opportunity for the leader of our church to connect
directly with the people in the pews during a crisis. He was able to
hold their hand electronically, if you will," said Tom Price, director
of conference youth ministries. The DVD was produced by the Conference
Council on Youth Ministry "News," a ministry of the CCYM.
Board arranges crisis hotline
United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits said it had
arranged with United Behavioral Health to provide free access to a
toll-free, 24-hour crisis hotline to anyone affected by the hurricane.
The number is (866) 615-8700.
can speak with counselors for help with emotional issues they may be
experiencing and to receive referrals from a national database of
community resources covering a range of concerns, including financial
and legal issues. Callers who have suffered physical trauma will be
transferred to a nurse who will be able to provide health information
and decision support regarding the need for medical treatment. United
Behavioral Health is also offering resources and information on disaster
relief assistance on www.liveandworkwell.com.
board also is allowing participants in the affected areas who are in
the Personal Investment Plan to obtain a hardship withdrawal or loan for
disaster-related expenses. Affected participants can contact the board
at (800) 851-2201 for details.
agency has arranged through its pharmacy provider, Medco, to waive the
prescription drug mail-order refill requirement for HealthFlex
participants in the affected areas. Participants can get a supply of
their prescriptions from a local retail pharmacy without paying the
usual co-payment. For information, call (800) 841-2806.
How to help UMCOR
Donations to support the United Methodist hurricane response can be made online at www.methodistrelief.org and
by phone at (800) 554-8583. Checks can be written to UMCOR, designated
for "Hurricanes 2005 Global," Advance No. 982523, and left in offering
plates or mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068.
Information on health kits and school kits can be found on the UMCOR Web site, http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/print/kits/. Other information on packing and shipping can be found at that site or by calling the Sager Brown Depot at (800) 814-8765.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759, or Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.