United Methodist hurricane relief exceeds $62 million
The Rev. Paul Dirdak
Feb. 14, 2006
By Elliott Wright*
NEW YORK (UMNS) — More than $62 million was contributed in 2005 to the United
Methodist Committee on Relief for hurricane relief and rehabilitation in the
United States and wider Gulf of Mexico region.
“Year-end receipts from the annual conferences pushed the figure far, far beyond
what we anticipated in the late fall,” said Roland Fernandes, treasurer of the
Board of Global Ministries, the denominational agency of which UMCOR is a part.
UMCOR had received $62.37 million as of Dec. 31. All of the money was or is
being applied to relief and rehabilitation, primarily through the church’s
annual (regional) conferences affected by the strong series of hurricanes that
struck the Gulf Coast. Post-hurricane work in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and
Nicaragua also was covered.
“In April, our directors will make decisions about how the balance will be
expended,” said the Rev. Paul Dirdak, the executive in charge of UMCOR for the
mission board. “Meanwhile, UMCOR has responded 100 percent to the emergency
relief and rehabilitation start-up requests made by the annual conferences, with
over $6 million expended to date. Our rehabilitation efforts will likely cover a
David Sadoo, international field staff for UMCOR, said the work in Mexico and
Central America is an important part of the church’s hurricane response. “We are
assisting there with both relief and long-term rehabilitation.”
The Rev. R. Randy Day, top staff executive of the Board of Global Ministries,
expressed appreciation to United Methodists and their friends for the outpouring
of support for people and communities affected by the hurricanes.
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Hurricane Katrina devastated this waterfront neighborhood in Bayou La Batre, Ala., on the Gulf of Mexico.
“United Methodists are such caring and generous people,” he said. “How thankful
we are that we can provide major assistance to the storm-ravaged areas.”
The Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama-West Florida and Texas conferences
were the most severely affected by hurricanes striking the United States in
2005. The first two were the hardest hit by Katrina, which made landfall Aug.
29. The Texas Annual Conference received the largest number of displaced people
from New Orleans, followed by a major hit from Hurricane Rita in September.
Dirdak said the cash contributions are only one measure of the enormous United
Methodist response to the hurricane disasters. In addition, tons of supplies
have been sent to UMCOR’s Sager Brown materials depot in Baldwin, La., for
distribution in the disaster zone. Thousands of church members are helping with
cleanup and rebuilding as volunteers in mission.
“The compassion of the United Methodist people for those in crisis appears to be
unlimited,” Dirdak said. “It is a compassion rooted in thanksgiving for God’s
grace and love and in Jesus’ mandate to love our neighbors.”
|A UMNS photo courtesy of FEMA/Mark Wolfe
Damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina to houses are evident throughout Biloxi, Miss.
While most of the $62 million was contributed in response to Hurricane Katrina,
some amounts were earmarked for relief following the later Hurricane Rita, and
some came in response to 2005 storms prior to Katrina.
Money reaches UMCOR in a variety of ways: telephone and Internet gifts, checks
sent directly to the agency, and contributions made through local congregations
and channeled by annual conferences to the church’s General Council on Finance
and Administration. The council serves as treasurer for relief and other
designated giving through what is called the Advance for Christ and His Church.
Conferences have until late January each year to make their submissions to the
*Wright is the public information officer of the United Methodist Board of
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759, or Tim Tanton,
Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470, or