OGHS Stories

Water and Justice: People Need Both

It rained almost constantly the last 10 or 12 days nearing the end of the rainy season in Timor. That has meant, among other things, that the municipal water supply resembled what you see when you look at a mud puddle. In fact, local authorities turned off the water supply. Why have a faucet if, what comes out is muddy?

New Disaster Preparedness Guide now available online

Are your family and your church congregation prepared if disaster strikes? Whether your answer is "no" and you have no idea where to start or you already have your emergency supplies stocked, you are sure to find a great deal of helpful information in UCC Disaster Ministries' new Disaster Preparedness Guide. 

UCC Disaster Ministries puts out call for volunteer work teams for Florida

As Hurricane Matthew raked Florida's Daytona Beach area last October, it threw trees onto houses and even rolled the roofs off many mobile homes. Many people have been living under plastic tarps since then, unable to afford repairs. Three dozen homes are ready or nearly ready for volunteer work teams. Schedule yours today!

UCC Disaster Ministries continues to fund quake-resistant homes in Nepal

Kirani Maya Tamang, a 45-year-old widow in Kimtang, Nepal, lost her home to a landslide caused by the two deadly, destructive earthquakes in 2015.  Full Maya Tamang, 38, also lost her home to the quake. Now both women and their families have new, earthquake-resistant homes, thanks to a construction program supported by UCC Disaster Ministries.

Cleanup Bucket: "When someone gets one ... they know someone cares."

"When someone gets one of these, they know someone cares," says Susan Rock of Grace United Church of Christ in Taneytown, Md. She's talking about CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets. Grace UCC just completed 26 buckets thanks to generous contributions from its members, a $250 matching grant from UCC Disaster Ministries, and careful shopping.

UCC calls for prayers, sobriety, aid for displaced in Marawi, Philippines

More than 200,000 residents of Marawi City and other communities on the Philippines' southern Mindanao Island have fled for safer areas since armed conflict erupted May 23. Dansalan College, a Global Ministries (UCC/Disciples) partner, was attached and burned. In response, UCC Disaster Ministries has contributed a $3,000 solidarity grant and is in close contact with the UCC Philippines and the ecumenical ACT Alliance regarding developments and needs.

LTRG's "Tupperware party" strategy for reaching disaster survivors

They were like home Tupperware parties, where a host provides refreshments and welcomes neighbors and friends for a presentation on a useful product. Except the topic at these gatherings was recovery from disaster – specifically the October 2015 floods and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. These home gatherings with local volunteer hosts were organized by the Darlington County, S.C., Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) and funded by UCC Disaster Ministries, which gave a $5,000 solidarity grant for the group's outreach program.

UCC Disaster Ministries' help for Flint residents still struggling for water

UCC Disaster Ministries funding to Genesee County Hispanic Latino Collaborative - La Placita is helping mitigate the impact of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Mich., on some of its most under-served and overlooked residents. A December 2016 grant of $25,000 helped the collaborative set up an interpretation and translation service. An additional $8,500 contribution this month is helping Spanish-speaking residents avoid water shutoff.

Volunteers restore Miss Elgie's flooded Louisiana home

It was raining buckets that Saturday night last August, but "I didn't know it was going to do what it did," recalled Elgie C., 90, who began the evening as she usually did, alone in the home she loves. Next thing she knew, her son-in-law was at her door with a boat. The UCC is partnering with Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders to recruit volunteer work teams to help people like Miss Elgie recover.

Church exhausts $50,000 to keep Flint neighbors' water flowing

It's been just over three weeks since Woodside Church in Flint, Mich., offered to pay water bills for neighbors in need, and the church's $50,000 fund is already tapped out. Contributions from churches across the United States and an $8,500 grant from UCC Disaster Ministries to the Genesee County Hispanic Latino Collaborative (GCHLC), which is housed in the church, will help more people prevent water shutoffs at home - and continue to provide free filtered water for those whose water at home is still not safe to use. 

The Challenge to Respond with a Mindset of Urgency

Across East Africa, one can easily witness the distress on people, livestock and the entire natural environment. Water wells have dried up, and food is scarce.

Help us reach our goal to raise $50,000 by Sunday, May 21, a day declared by the World Council of Churches as the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine!


DRSI helps Ottawa, Naplate jumpstart tornado recovery

The EF3 tornado that raked Naplate and Ottawa in LaSalle County, Ill., Feb. 28 lasted about eight minutes – and changed those communities forever.  Still, today recovery is farther along t han would be typical at this point - perhaps even by as much as a couple of months - thanks to a partnership between the local community and the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative.

Stories of recovery following last year's Ecuador earthquake

On April 16, 2016, Ecuador suffered its deadliest earthquake in decades. 663 people died.  A state of emergency was declared in all of Ecuador’s six coastal provinces. Hundreds of homes collapsed. In the year following the quake, UCC Disaster Ministries has sent nearly $18,000 to help survivors get through the initial emergency and take steps to long-term recovery - including 30 families in Sua, Esmeraldas, who are establishing businesses with microloans.

Haiti's Hurricane Matthew recovery continues with UCC support

United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries this week sent another $50,000 for Hurricane Matthew recovery in Haiti, bringing its total to $136,000 since the storm raked that island nation last October. The funds are going toward repair of as many as 400 homes, two schools and several community meeting spaces, fortifying them against future storms and earthquakes, and are helping provide seeds to farmers who lost last fall's harvest to Matthew.

Good relationships net free bunk beds for disaster volunteer host

This is a story about how people in two countries, two U.S. states and two cities kept 24 surplus bunk beds and six dressers from a wasteful end in a landfill by redeploying them to a United Church of Christ congregation that expects to start hosting disaster recovery work teams soon.

UCC sends famine assistance to South Sudan, aids other countries

The United Church of Christ is sending an initial $85,000 in aid to South Sudan and three other African counties to help people combating a crisis fueled by war, severe drought and massive food shortages, with famine declared in some areas. "This crisis, this emergency demands our immediate attention and response," said Zach Wolgemuth, executive director, UCC Disaster Ministries. "The funding that we've received from our generous donors has allowed us to respond quickly and undoubtedly save lives."

Read the UCC News story: UCC sends assistance to South Sudan and other African countries

Florida church hosts first Hurricane Matthew recovery work team

Thanks to a willing spirit and the determination to make it happen, the United Church of Christ of St. Augustine, Fla., housed its first Hurricane Matthew recovery work team last week, and is ready to host additional teams over the course of the next year or two, until work is complete.  The volunteers were organized by Granville, Ill., United Church of Christ.  

Disaster Ministries supports Illinois church's tornado response

Open Table UCC in Ottawa, Ill., doesn't wear its name lightly. "Feeding is something we do," said moderator-elect Heather Francis. "We talk about both spiritual and literal nourishment here." So it's no surprise that, after a tornado struck Naplate and Ottawa, Ill., February 28 – killing two, damaging more than 210 homes and knocking out almost everyone's power – Open Table UCC stepped up promptly to meet affected residents' need to eat.

Florida Conference matches Disaster Ministries' matching grant for CWS buckets, kits

The United Church of Christ's Florida Conference is matching UCC National Disaster Ministries' matching grant of $250 for Florida congregations to assemble CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets and/or CWS School and Hygiene Kits.

Disaster Recovery Support Initiative launches

When a natural or technological disaster strikes a community, beginning the process of long-term recovery quickly is essential. Yet, it can be a daunting task for local leaders who may not have experience in disaster recovery and may have suffered damage and loss themselves. The ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) is working to help communities shorten the time between the immediate disaster response and long-term recovery.

Celebrating $274,002 in volunteer flood recovery labor in SC

United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries and its partners in the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative mobilized $274,002 worth of volunteer labor in 2016 to help South Carolina homeowners recover following the severe floods of October 2015.

Disaster Ministries' support continues for Haiti's Hurricane recovery

Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 was the worst storm to strike Haiti since 1964. It killed up to 1,000, displaced more than 140,000 and left 1.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance.  It wiped out crops and destroyed or damaged homes and schools. UCC Disaster Ministries is funding recovery work that includes seed distribution, repair and reconstruction of homes and schools, and distribution of water purification tablets to help stem the spread of cholera.

Meet UCC Disaster Ministries' Partners in Service

When the UCC's Partners in Service network held its annual meeting last week, the four volunteers who serve in UCC Disaster Ministries were among them. They are among 28 Partners in Service currently serving in various ministries.  It is our pleasure to introduce them to you! We trust you will be inspired by their stories of how they got involved and by what they do. 

UCC offers matching grants for CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets, other Kits

In preparation for this year's heavy storm season, United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is turning to church congregations to help overcome a shortage of much-needed cleanup buckets, stocked with essential supplies that are used after a disaster strikes. UCC Disaster Ministries is offering congregations matching grants of up to $250 as an incentive to assemble Church World Service kits — in particular, CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets but also CWS School and Hygiene Kits.


Swaziland has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate and a high HIV incidence rate. Various studies show it is not poverty alone that drives the epidemic but other factors.

Monica Returns to Timor

Monica Liddle, missionary, Lospalos, Timor, formerly supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, returns to the mission field, along with husband Tom Liddle. Her work in community outreach is helping reduce preventable illnesses through better sanitation.

Where There is Water

Think of all the ways you have used water today. Now imagine walking each morning to gather water for your family, knowing the water you were collecting was unclean and could make the members of your family sick. This story, a moment for mission can also be downloaded and used as a bulletin insert to help promote the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

A Note of Resiliency of the War-Affected Amidst Violence

The war-torn population in the North and East of Sri Lanka has shown considerable resiliency amidst the violence and devastation. Women have carried much of the social burden including providing for their families and dependents with increasing difficulties due to an economic crisis. In some parts of the Vanni, almost every family has lost someone to the war.

Storm survivor testifies it's still "devastating" one year later

"I hope people know how devastating this was and still is. It's over a year since the storm and people are still struggling and suffering from it. We still need help." Those are the words of Cynthia Charles, 57, of Columbia, S.C., who was among thousands in communities across South Carolina and in other states whose homes suffered damage from high winds and record-setting torrential rains in October 2015.

UCC helps immigrant women affected by Fukushima disaster

UCC Disaster Ministries has just transmitted $16,178 to Global Ministries partners in Japan who are reaching out to an underserved group of survivors of the triple earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster in March 2011: immigrant women. Some 1,100 Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Thai immigrant women in Fukushima and Shirakawa, Japan, continue to struggle for information and support following the disaster.

$25K goes to work with Spanish speakers in Flint water crisis

United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries has approved a $25,000 grant to support the work of the Genesee County Hispanic Latino Collaborative (GCHLC) in Flint, Mich., to serve Spanish-speaking households affected by the water crisis. Woodside Church UCC in Flint is providing the collaborative with space long term as it responds to the needs of an under-served and overlooked population.

Franklinton Center hosts disaster work teams

When faced with a need, offer the resources you have - and do it with style! That's what the Franklinton Center at Bricks, a UCC covenant partner in rural Whitakers, N.C., did last month when it met an urgent request to house Mennonite Disaster Service volunteer work teams about to start coming to help the area clean up from Hurricane Matthew. 

Hurricane Matthew recovery begins in Haiti, Cuba, U.S.

As Hurricane Matthew scraped its destruction across western Haiti in October, it destroyed the fall 2016 harvest. In response, UCC Disaster Ministries is helping fund seed distribution so that farmers will not lose the next planting season. 

UCC Disaster Ministries deploys Matthew recovery volunteers to Florida

From Florida to the Carolinas, Hurricane Matthew survivors in the United States are asking, "What do we do now?" United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries Is playing its part in helping them move toward recovery, most recently with deployment of two long-term recovery volunteers to Florida and training in long-term recovery basics in the Carolinas.

UCC Ecuador Earthquake Response - Updated

Summary, updated in mid-November, of the April 2016 Ecuador earthquakes disaster and what United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is doing to help relief and recovery. The page includes an Ecuador earthquake bulletin insert, materials for children, a youth activity and a bookmark.

Concert benefits Hurricane Matthew, Louisiana flood recovery

Update of a 10/14/2016 story: An Oct. 22 benefit concert of Brazilian music featuring musicians originally from the Philippines and France raised more than $2,700 for UCC Disaster Ministries to support recovery from Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean in October and from flooding in Louisiana in August. Thank you, and congratulations!

S.C. homeowner praises disaster volunteer work teams

"I was just so amazed that someone would take time to come to volunteer their services to do the work, not taking anything for it.  And the service that was rendered was so professional!" That’s how Angela S. of Gadsden, S.C., expressed her appreciation for an ecumenical volunteer work team's help with major repairs to her home, damaged in South Carolina's week-long deluge in October 2015. 

OGHS supports Hurricane Matthew response in Caribbean, U.S.

Hundreds of thousands of lives have been uprooted by Hurricane Matthew, from the Caribbean to North Carolina where flood waters have yet to crest, let alone recede. UCC Disaster Ministries, which has been present to the affected areas since long before the storm, is responding with support for survivors - first, emergency food, water, shelter and sanitation, then early recovery and livelihood restoration, then long-term recovery.

UCC, Disciples issue joint Hurricane Matthew appeal

Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on the morning of October 4 and in Cuba later that afternoon. This powerful and slow-moving storm battered islands of the Caribbean and the United States' Atlantic coast. Over 1,000 people have died. Devastation and displacement abound. The United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are well situated to respond robustly to people impacted both in the Caribbean and within the United States. 

UCC solidarity grant to Iowa church as floods sweep state

United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries has just awarded a $3,000 solidarity grant to Immanuel United Church of Christ in Clarksville, Iowa, which is helping members and neighbors affected by severe flooding. Heavy rain that started in mid-September and the resulting flooding are causing tremendous damage to homes and crops in Iowa. More than 30 inches of rain in two weeks have caused several rivers to overflow their banks, beginning in the northeast and rolling south.

Long-term disaster recovery volunteers meet for training

Imagine volunteering in a disaster-stricken community for a month or longer at a time. That is the commitment of 17 participants from three denominations, including 10 from the United Church of Christ, who are beginning an 11-day Disaster Project Leadership Training today (Sept. 27).

Helping Nepali children, adults recover from post-quake PTSD

Disaster-related psychosocial trauma can take up to three years to heal, especially for school children. In Nepal, UCC Disaster Ministries' support is helping tens of thousands of children and adults recover psychologically from the terrifying effects of the April 2015 earthquakes, Nepal's worst in more than 80 years. Program Executive Zach Wolgemuth just returned from a 10-day visit to Nepal, and tells the story.

UCC helps Nepal villages recover quake-damaged water systems

In Nepal, last year's two powerful earthquakes damaged or destroyed many communities' water collection and distribution systems. They even moved or emptied many underground water sources as the earth shook and shifted. UCC Disaster Ministries has helped many communities repair or replace their water systems. Program Executive Zach Wolgemuth tells the story of one such community, in Nepal's Dhading District.

South Carolina church houses disaster recovery work teams

The contributions a local congregation can make to long-term recovery following a disaster that affected its area include not only "stuff," but also space and basic hospitality. Consider the example of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in West Columbia, S.C., a community hard hit by the record rainfall and flooding that beset South Carolina last October. The church has been hosting disaster recovery work teams almost every week since January.

Prayers on the 15th Anniversary of September 11, 2001

The following prayers were prepared on the 5th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  A few adaptations have been made as they help us observe this 15th anniversary on 9-11-2016.

UCC steps up its support for West Virginia flood recovery

United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is stepping up its support for West Virginia communities struggling to recover from their second "one in 1,000 years" flood in June. UCC Conference Disaster Coordinators Jim Ditzler (Ohio) and Karl Jones (Pennsylvania Southeast) are working with affected communities to establish long-term recovery groups and to lay the groundwork for eventual deployment of UCC work teams.

UCC Disaster Ministries supports Louisiana recovery

Parts of Louisiana received 30 inches of rain within three days in August, leaving 20 parishes in a state of emergency and stranding nearly 30,000 people. In all, over 12,000 needed to seek refuge in shelters, nearly a dozen died, and an estimated 40,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas.  UCC Disaster Ministries ordered 1,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for distribution by the Red Cross and other partners and will support community-led long-term recovery, including deployment of work teams.  

Deadline August 31 for Disaster Recovery Support position

The disaster ministries of the Church of the Brethren, United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have partnered to develop the Disaster Response Support Initiative (DRSI) and are seeking applicants for a Long-Term Recovery Group Formation Specialist.  The application deadline is August 31.

UCC gives hope to Ecuador community after flood, quake

Residents of Sua, Ecuador, had already suffered damage to their homes and the loss of household furnishings and livestock to 4-foot-deep flooding in January when the April 2016 magnitude 7.8 earthquake added another layer of destruction. The back-to-back disasters greatly diminished coastal Sua's fishing and tourism industries, the community's economic base. With support from UCC Disaster Ministries, 33 Sua families will soon have access to flexible financing and training to help them resume their livelihoods.

Disaster volunteers urgently needed for South Carolina

Attention potential volunteers! South Carolina homeowners still struggling to recover from last fall's devastating storms and floods need your help. Week-long work teams are being recruited now, especially and urgently for September and October.  UCC Disaster Ministries and its partners in the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) had planned to wrap up their work in South Carolina in August, but are extending it at least through October given flood survivors' yet unmet needs.