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Worldwide Methodist community responds to relief effort

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The children of Reeves Memorial United Methodist Church send a gift to the children of Louisiana. UMNS writer Kathy Gilbert stands at far right.
Oct. 7, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Louisiana native and United Methodist News Service reporter Kathy Gilbert was on assignment in Liberia when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

Upon learning where she was from, the children of Reeves Memorial United Methodist Church in Monrovia presented Gilbert with a $20 donation “to help the children of Louisiana.”

“In a country where 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, $20 is a fortune,” Gilbert said.

Such stories abound in times of tragedy, further evidence of the denomination’s connectional nature.

The United Methodist Church of Liberia has already contributed money to Hurricane Katrina relief, as has the Korean Methodist Church. Methodist women in Korea sent additional donations to assist women and children affected by the storm.

Bishop Kyung Ha Shin, president of the Korean Church’s Council of Bishops, presented the gift at the opening of a two-day consultation between Korean church representatives and top officials of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

“God has given us one heart with the Korean Church in Christian proclamation and service,” said the Rev. R. Randy Day, the board’s top staff executive.

The United Methodist mission arm in Germany also donated to the hurricane relief efforts of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, a unit of the Board of Global Ministries.

“We pray for the victims and their families, for those who lost their houses and belongings, and for all those who work hard to help the people in that area,” said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the denomination’s Germany Area, in a letter to her colleagues affected by the storm.

Churches in other countries are also encouraging giving for hurricane relief.

Methodists in Taiwan sent $20,000 to UMCOR—an amount representing about $400 per person in the 5,000-person church, known officially as the Methodist Church in the Republic of China.

Presenting the check in New York, Bishop C.H. Kuey said his church was praying for “those whose lives have been forever altered by this tragic disaster” and for those working to restore order in the affected areas. Day expressed gratitude for the Chinese church’s gift and prayers.

The United Methodist Church of Côte d’Ivoire received a special offering for hurricane relief on Sept. 18. The church also organized an interfaith worship service to pray for those affected by the storm.

The Methodist Church of England, the Methodist Church of Haiti, the Methodist Church in Cuba and United Methodist churches in Mozambique have also collected offerings.

“You and I know that this will only be symbolic, since I think that some 15,000 pesos were collected, but when converted to U.S. dollars it will be some $625,” wrote Bishop Ricardo Pereira of the Methodist Church in Cuba. “We want to send this message of love to our brothers and sisters. (That amount equals) 50 percent of one month’s salary of all Cuban pastors.”

United Methodist-related Africa University, based in Zimbabwe, has donated a shipment of bedding — about 15,000 sheets and pillowcases — originally designated for ministries in Africa, to ongoing efforts to care and provide for evacuees in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“We know how it feels to lose everything,” said Vice Chancellor Rukudzo Murapa. “We feel honored to be able, out of our meager resources, to assist persons who need immediate help.”

“The response is wonderful,” UMCOR communications director Linda Beher said. “All of our partners in Action by Churches Together International have expressed solidarity and prayer.”

UMCOR is providing two giving numbers through The Advance for Christ and His Church for hurricane relief. Checks should be made out to UMCOR and designated for “UMCOR Advance #982523 Hurricane Katrina” or “UMCOR Advance #901323 Hurricane Rita.” Both numbers or one number and the word “both” can be given for general assistance.

Tax-deductible checks may be placed in church offering plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Credit-card gifts can be made by calling (800) 554-8583 or going online to www.methodistrelief.org.

*This story was compiled by Joey Butler, managing editor of Interpreter magazine, from United Methodist News Service and United Methodist Board of Global Ministries reports.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 
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