Two years ago this month, Sepa and his wife Josivini had cause to wonder whether they and their neighbors would live or die as Cyclone Winston roared across their Fiji Islands community of Navakawau, on Taveuni Island, blowing away 96 of the village’s 111 homes, including theirs. Thanks to UCC Disaster Ministries, they had shelter in the community hall while they rebuilt their home - and now, reliable drinking water and a new health center, too.
Six members of St. Paul's UCC in St. Louis, Mo., spent a week in a Harvey-battered neighborhood of Houston late last year replacing a homeowner's flood-soaked drywall and retrofitting the bathroom to make it handicapped accessible. In this commentary, Pastor Mike Roth shares some of the group's thought-provoking learnings.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries continues to be at the helm of outreach to the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have sought shelter in Pennsylvania since Hurricane Maria wreaked death and destruction across their island in late September 2017. Work that began at a Disaster Assistance Services Center in Philadelphia is now rolling out to seven other Pennsylvania cities through a series of resource fairs.
Christians are called to be present and to be healers where there are breaks and cracks in the world. Where more than welcoming people fleeing violence and assisting people who have lost everything to disaster? "Those are among the rawest breaks in our world," says Amanda Sheldon, the UCC's new National Disaster and Refugee Ministries Program Associate (since January 16).
UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with the Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation, or SET CDC, in Port Arthur, Texas, to repair low-income rental apartments damaged in Hurricane Harvey. A volunteer work site will open there in February. Work may include but will not be limited to light carpentry, drywall, insulation, flooring, trim and painting. Read the story for details and one survivor's story!
Few of us would consider disasters to be linked to justice work because disasters don’t discriminate… or do they? It is true that many natural disasters impact rich and poor, black and white ... but the reality is that impoverished and low-income communities are more susceptible to disasters than others. Because of systemic injustices, they are more vulnerable, explains UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth in this commentary.
As rescuers in California urgently search for more missing people in the deadly mudslides that devastated the Montecito community, a United Church of Christ minister is pastoring to the stricken and the injured. The Rev. Kris Bergstrom, pastor of Church of the Foothills in Ventura, Calif., also serves as a part-time chaplain at the local hospital in Montecito. She also is the former Montecito village school principal, so has close ties with many families.
Hurricane Matthew in 2016 killed nearly 900 people in Haiti and left widespread damage. UCC Disaster Ministries is supporting an ambitious ecumenical program to rebuild homes and schools, and with them the lives of students, families and communities. As one Haitian partner put it, the UCC’s "sweat is here."
Church of the Foothills UCC in Ventura, Calif., is living into what it means to "be the church" in the midst of communities being ravaged by massive wildfires and whose own members have suffered great loss. "We are located right at the entrance to the two neighborhoods that were most profoundly impacted," Pastor Kris Bergstrom said. "We're going to live into a new understanding, ways to be the church."
A home for elderly persons, each floor of a multi-story apartment building, hospital emergency and operating rooms - these are among recipients of 1,500 UCC Disaster Ministries water filters in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Generous contributions of more than $12,000 (and counting) on #GivingTuesday means UCC Disaster Ministries will be able to buy 600 more filters for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.