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Chile mourns for quake victims, plans response


3:00 P.M. EST March 8, 2010

Churches throughout the
 country were damaged in the earthquake. Several cities are still 
without water and electricity. UMNS photos courtesy of Creative Commons
Churches throughout the country were damaged in the earthquake. Several cities are still without water and electricity. UMNS photos courtesy of Creative Commons
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A week after the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Chile, Methodist leaders are helping the country respond in pastoral and practical ways.

On March 7, Chile officially began three days of mourning for the hundreds of people who died during the Feb. 27 earthquake. The Methodist Church of Chile has received emergency grants of $10,000 from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and $15,000 from Church World Service.

Methodist Bishop Mario Martínez and Juan Salazar, president of Methodist Social Ministry, were part of the InterChurch Emergency Committee Chile 2010 that left Santiago on March 4 for the region hardest hit by the earthquake. The committee’s assessments will help guide the responses of UMCOR, Church World Service and ecumenical partners in Action by Churches Together.

The group was traveling through Talca, Parral and Concepción and returning via Los Angeles, Chillán and Curicó, according to the Rev. Pedro Correa Montecinos, superintendent of Santiago’s Metropolitan District for the Methodist Church of Chile.

“I think that our Metropolitan District news is not as bad compared with what is happening with the rest of the country, in other regions, especially in the Concepción and William Taylor districts,” Correa said.

Church leaders say 
faith in God is critical to the recovery. .
Church leaders say faith in God is critical to the recovery.
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Chilean Methodist churches reported to have sustained substantial damage include Camilo Olavarría, Angol, Second of Temuco, Chillán, Los Angeles and First of Santiago. Those with moderate damage include Concepción, Temuco, Temple and the agriculture boarding school of El Vergel. Church officials had not yet obtained reports on all local congregations.

Before leaving Santiago, Martínez said in an e-mail message to United Methodist Communications that he hoped to obtain additional information about how Methodists in Chile were affected by the earthquake.

“We have an overview of the damage, according to information provided by each church,” he said. “Most of these injuries that people have received are related to the infrastructure.

“In several of the most affected cities still there is no potable water supply and electricity,” the bishop added. “Also, there is violence, robberies and outages. We pray for the moments we are going through right now.“

Martínez said that faith in God has given church members “strength and confidence to remind us that we are not alone in the extreme situations in life.”

It is a message he intends to carry as relief efforts are put into place. “At all times and in any situation, the Lord sustains us and moves us to serve the need of human beings with love and in his name,” he noted.

Donations to the relief efforts of UMCOR and the Methodist Church of Chile can be made online to Chile Emergency Advance # 3021178.Donations also can be sent by check to UMCOR and dropped in church offering plates or mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Please indicate in the memo line of the check that it is for the Chile Emergency.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York. Humberto Casanova contributed to this report.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

The Rev. Osvaldo Herreros

“We had a meeting that we called the ‘Mary and Martha’ meeting.”

“Tuvimos una reunión que le pusimos de nombre de las dos Marías.”

The Rev. J. Daniel Pacheco

“What we urgently need is food because there are children without milk…”

“Lo que estamos necesitando urgentemente son alimentos, porque no hay leche para los niños.”

The Rev. J. Daniel Pacheco

“I say there have been two earthquakes, one was real, the second was, vandalism.”

“Hubo un primer terremoto, el segundo terremoto fue el vandalismo.”

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