Bishop urges churches to help home state, other affected areas
|Courtesy of FEMA/Mark Wolfe
Damage and destruction to houses are evident throughout Biloxi, Miss.
and destruction to houses are evident throughout Biloxi, Miss. Photo
courtesy of FEMA/Mark Wolfe. Photo #05H056. Accompanies UMNS story #494,
9/6/05, and #508, 9/14/05|
Sept. 7, 2005
By Tita Parham*
LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) — For Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, the disaster that has struck the Gulf Coast has personal significance.
does weigh on me heavily,” said Whitaker, who leads the United
Methodist Church’s Florida Annual (regional) Conference. “When you grow
up in a place you have a certain feeling about it.”
That place is Mississippi. Whitaker grew up in Vicksburg, and his wife, Melba, has family in Laurel, Miss., on the coast.
said he has fond memories of visiting the state’s coast and nearby New
Orleans. “When I was a kid, we used to go to an amusement park on Lake
lived through Hurricane Camille, and the devastation from Katrina seems
even worse, which is hard to believe,” the bishop said.
hard to avoid seeing that devastation, played out daily and nightly on
the news. Moved by those images and reports coming from affected areas,
United Methodists have been contacting the conference’s Storm Recovery
Center with suggestions on how the conference can help. Whitaker said
all are being considered.
want to help, but it’s not as simple as it seems,” he said. “The Storm
Recovery Center can’t put the whole plan together until it gets more
center has been in contact with the American Red Cross and expects to
work closely with the organization to help displaced families. The
center is also waiting for more information from the United Methodist
Committee on Relief, according to Whitaker.
terms of housing families, Whitaker said there were several issues to
consider, both from the conference’s end and with other organizations.
American Red Cross is going to have to set up the selecting and
screening process (for families needing housing),” Whitaker said. “On
our end, every person we help will need case management.”
|A UMNS photo by Woody Woodrick
The Rev. Robert Abrams of Wiggins, Miss., puts sheeting over the roof of his home, which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina also hit South Florida Aug. 25, a few days before
making landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi. Two Florida Conference
case managers are assessing the damage, but much of the hurricane’s
impact came in the form of flooding and downed trees. Florida is also
dealing with the effects of Hurricane Dennis, which struck the northwest
part of the state in July.
Rev. Robert Abrams of Wiggins, Miss., puts sheeting over the roof of
his home, which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The home is next door
to Brown Memorial United Methodist Church where Wiggins' wife, Carolyn
Abrams, is pastor. The church was also damaged in the storm. A UMNS
photo by Woody Woodrick. Photo #05H057. Accompanies UMNS story #494.
said the Storm Recovery Center had case managers already working in a
number of counties, helping people affected by last year’s storms, but
case managers would need to be recruited for some parts of the state.
“The question is how we handle that,” he said. “We need to give
direction to churches.”
conference has already begun to respond. It sent an advance of $25,000
each to the bishops of the Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama-West
Florida annual conferences to be used “in any way needed in response to
Hurricane Katrina,” according to Randy Casey-Rutland, the conference’s
money was taken from available emergency funds, not from Florida storm
recovery donations, which are designated for storm recovery efforts in
Florida only, Casey-Rutland said. The conferences received the funds
Aug. 31, he added.
conferences did the same for the Florida Conference last year when
hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne hit the state, according to
United Methodists across the country, United Methodists in Florida are
already responding to the call for help. Churches are doing everything
from collecting special offerings, taking truckloads of supplies to
designated areas and having members prepare to house families to serving
as Red Cross shelters.
want to thank the United Methodist Christians in Florida for their
prayers of intercession for the people of the Gulf Coast and for their
expressions of concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina,” Whitaker
said in an e-mail message to clergy and laity last week.
is a unit of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Donations
to support the United Methodist 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
church offering plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New
York, NY 10087-9068.
Information on providing health kits, flood buckets and other relief through UMCOR is available at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/kits.cfm.
*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.