The United Church of Christ's Micronesia churches took steps toward increased disaster preparedness and resiliency this month when they invited UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth to address their biennial General Assembly. It was an important step in capacity building in this Western Pacific region prone to cyclones, earthquakes and drought and rapidly rising sea levels due to climate change.
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 the following positions: a Case Management Specialist and a Long-Term Recovery Group Formation Specialist. The application deadline has been extended to May 31.
With each new house that goes up, another family steps closer toward recovery from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. As the rebuilding effort in the Philippines continues — more than two years after the most destructive storm to make landfall ripped through the South Pacific — the United Church of Christ continues to help shelter the survivors who lost everything. As of March, UCC Disaster Ministries has provided a total of $1.13 million to support the initial recovery effort and future needs of the survivors.
As the people of Nepal mark the first anniversary today of the most devastating earthquake to hit their small country in more than 80 years, the United Church of Christ is reaffirming its long-term commitment to help survivors put their lives back together.
April 2016 update of main UCC Nepal Earthquake Response page, including "By the Numbers," "Latest Resources," links to past stories and updates, and how to help.
The United Church of Christ One Great Hour of Sharing and The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Week of Compassion issue this joint special appeal for $500,000 for Ecuador earthquake relief and recovery. Our response will include immediate needs and to be strategically active in long-term accompaniment as people recover their lives and livelihoods. Because the scope of the damage is so immense, we are leveraging our existing partnership to respond jointly.
The Border Consortium (TBC) works in nine main refugee camps located close to the Burma/Myanmar border. Support to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and others in rural areas affected by conflict spans a wide geographical area from Shan State to the Tanintharyi region. Assistance includes cash transfers for impoverished civilians, small grants to communities for recovery and rehabilitation initiatives, and food assistance to IDPs in camps next to the Thailand border.
In June 2014, the total population of the camps (Verified Caseload) was 118,917 persons. At the time of print of the June 2015 Programme report, the refugee population in TBC camps was forecast to decrease to just over 85,000 inhabitants. From 2004 through 2015 approximately 100,000 refugees in Thailand were assisted in departing to 13 other countries.
Half of the funding for the 2015 budget for TBC was given by the US government, according to the January-June 2015 Programme Report.
UCC Disaster Ministries is contributing $5,000 to an innovative, increasingly ecumenical "Bridge Project" in southwestern West Virginia that is restoring access and safety to residents whose small "private access" bridges were washed out by severe flooding last spring. The floods damaged or destroyed 1,000 homes, also washing out 300 "private access" bridges, forcing people to take inconvenient detours at best, or to risk dangerous crossings at worse.
It's been five years since Japan's triple disaster - earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown - killed about 16,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of others. The United Church of Christ has provided more than $1 million in recovery assistance. Two ministry partners from Japan just visited the United Church of Christ to share updates on their post-disaster work, which is ongoing.
Colleagues from Japan visited the national setting of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland to share information on the continuing effects of the 2011 disaster in Japan which included an Earthquake, a Tsunami and a Nuclear Power Plant Radiation Explosion. Staff and visitors gathered for a lunch, and heard of the lingering effects the nuclear contamination is having.
The UCC was honored with a certificate of appreciation for being a church who has walked with them through the devastation.
Thank you so much for your support of this disaster. Continued prayers are requested.
Blog page written during an OGHS delegation to Japan and the Philippines, Summer 2015
JAPAN - It is painful and extremely moving to bear witness to those who are living with the effects of nuclear contamination. Most of us were moved to tears as we listened to our hosts share their personal stories as well as the changes to their communities and families they have experienced since March 11, 2011. That date is known here in Japan as 311.
My mind began to think of the United States and its experience with 911, a day that changed our country forever. Likewise in Japan, 311 changed Japan forever, and it has also changed our planet forever. Nuclear radiation contamination is invisible. Japan remains a beautiful lush green country. We have heard repeatedly that one of the most difficult concepts for people to accept is that everything has changed though nothing appears to have changed. This past week's lectionary readings ask us to look beyond appearances, to not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, and to mature as Christians. " Speaking the truth in love, we must grow into Christian unity..."
Bearing witness to uncomfortable truths and then sharing these stories by speaking and blogging the truth in love, is promoting the up-building of the body of Christ.
Hope and despair often live side by side for the people of this area. It is through relationship we create hope, even when disparate feelings are also present. These raw and honest stories share themes of fear of government under reporting, broken trust within the local community, contaminated food fears, short and long-term health issues, and also great love for family and place.
The question was posed and answered by one speaker: "How do you go on when everything could be poisonous yet nothing seems to have changed its appearance? 'Life.' For future life, and for our lives given by God, these must be lived as long and honestly as our natural lives were intended."
It is challenging to find words which adequately express the experience our group is sharing. Looking beyond appearances, we all are, no doubt changed forever by bearing witness.
For more in depth information about Japan, follow the blog of Global Ministries Missionary Jeffrey Mensendiek, at: http://jeffreyfromjapan.blogspot.jp/.
Written by Rev. Merida Wilson and Samuel Wong-Wilson (11)
St. John's UCC, San Francisco, California
The travel blog is still available for review at: http://www.ucc.org/japan_and_philippine_trip_blog
Heavy rain Monday and Tuesday and now Tropical Cyclone Zena are adding insult to the injury Fiji suffered from Tropical Cyclone Winston in February. Thousands of Winston survivors are once again in emergency shelters across the country. UCC Disaster Ministries is monitoring the impact of the latest storms even as it undertakes important repairs in Navakawu.
The story of UCC Disaster Ministries' food aid to a small Fijian island in the wake of Cyclone Winston illustrates the denomination's commitment to stepping up to fill critical gaps. The aid was delivered earlier this week to Kioa Island, whose root crops were destroyed by the severe (Category 5) tropical cyclone - the strongest ever to make landfall in Fiji.
This is UCC Disaster Ministries' "index page" with information about Tropical Cyclone Winston's impact on Fiji and how the United Church of Christ is helping with disaster relief and recovery. Page just updated with news from UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth's visit to Fiji March 12-22.
Koh Hey has been living in a refugee camp along the borders of Thailand and Burma since 1998. He works hard and says he is proud of what he is doing because the bamboo he grows is good for the earth.
Migrants find themselves needing to criss-cross borders to find dignified responses to Central America's great level of violence.
When last October's heavy rains flooded the yard around her Columbia, S.C., mobile home, Richshanda G. thought she and her five-year-old daughter Mylon would be fine once the water receded. But when her home's floors began to buckle, and the wheels of her wheelchair started sinking in, Richshanda knew the water had caused serious damage to her home. That's when she reached out to the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative.
“I tried many times to follow a weight-loss program, but none of them were long term”, said Tamam, a 42 year-old female participant in a health education workshop on obesity offered in 2014.
“Most weight-loss programs focus on a rigid regimen for a short period of time utilizing a list of allowed and forbidden foods. The 2014 workshop was different and I lost 15 pounds.”
My heavy teaching load often drains me; stories about lack of transparency and abuse of power in the church can leave me sad and frustrated. But when I have an opportunity to experience the energy of students who are learning valuable lessons of faith and practical ministry from humble pastors, wise congregants, and from each other . . . well, my faith is lifted up and my heart filled.
Karen Campbell Nelson pictured with students who did their field education in Belu Presbytery.
The United Church of Christ's delegation to Japan and the Philippines has reached its completion. On our journey to Asia and the Pacific, which began Aug. 4, we have learned about disaster response and deep poverty. We have increased our understanding of how devastation impacts the lives of everyday people, just like you, and just like me. First-hand accounts go a long way into helping us see past our own levels of comfort. And it was in the uncomfortable times that we allowed ourselves to be open to a new truth. We have learned through first-hand accounts of the great impact the United Church of Christ, One Great Hour of Sharing and Global Ministries have made and continue to make in impoverished communities striving for life. It proved to us why disaster relief and rehabilitation are essential following disasters long after most people have forgotten the images that once were on news broadcasts, or that made front page news. Through this trip, we have become witnesses to great need and suffering, hope and blessings.
Participants have blogged along the course of the journey. The journey in our own words ....
Who are the missionaries you support through OGHS, and what are they up to these days? Here are snapshots of – and thought-provoking quotes from - Timothy and Diane Fonderlin, Teresa and Anil Henry, Donald and Maryjane Westra, and Karen and John Campbell-Nelson, with links to their web pages and blog posts.
Last summer thousands of unaccompanied children fled from violence and hunger in Central America to seek refuge in the United States. Through UCC ministries and with your contributions to One Great Hour of Sharing and Neighbors in Need, you have created family. Read this update from Bethany Children's Home in PA.
Karen Campbell-Nelson serves with the Evangelical Church of West Timor as a Professor. Her appointment is supported by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing, Disciple's Mission Fund, Our Church's Wider Mission and special gifts to support her work.
In the middle of January on the island of Sumba (to the west of Timor), a young woman, 20 years old, was said to have fallen—or jumped—off the bus she was on and died. The Chief of Police in West Sumba, who learned from the woman’s parents that their daughter had sent them a cellphone message (SMS) saying she was uncomfortable as the only woman on the bus, was suspicious of bus driver’s claims and initiated an intense investigation.
Feb 15th is Transfiguration Sunday. Mark 9: 2-9, The whole context of the Transfiguration story is that Jesus is teaching his disciples what it means to follow him. As part of that experience, Jesus takes those disciples, Peter and James and John, to a high mountain apart, and chooses to give them a glimpse of his fullness. The writer of Mark describes it poetically as “his clothes became dazzling white such as no one on earth could bleach them.” Jesus appears, talking with Elijah and Moses. To know the fullness of Jesus is to experience his role as one of the prophets who spoke into being what no one could imagine and as integral to life in all generations.
Vocational Education is a key that opens doors for people to learn what they need now to earn a better living in the future. It is making a great impact in Honduras.
There is always more need than we are able to support. Yet, one smile and one flicker of hope in the eyes of a child make it all worthwhile.
When the Iraqis fled their homes from Mosul last summer, they had little with them when they arrived in Jordan. The impending winter became a challenge that required an immediate solution. A distribution to provide vouchers for children’s winter clothing had been planned, but seeing reports of rain, Father Emmanuel called the Orthodox Initiative to move the scheduled distribution up, bringing aid and relief to families before the storm came.
FIRM, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Services was established over twenty years ago to assist with the needs of refugees, mainly Hmong, Lao, and Slavic, who now reside in the U.S.
On September 13, 2013, more than a foot of rain fell on the farming community of Longmont, Colorado. Water saturated the ground. Creeks and rivers rose. And the St. Vrain River broke out of its river bed, flooding hundreds of houses outside of the designated flood plain.
Late 2014, and mid-2015 mark the 10 year anniversaries of two of the largest disasters in recent history—December in Southern Asia and Africa; and August in the US along the Gulf Coast.
When there’s a huge natural disaster, victims’ stories are broadcasted and people from around the world can hear their struggles. With all the destruction and loss, it’s hard not to ask the question, “Where is God in all this?”
Donors, including CWS are supporting a local NGO with big capacity, and providing assistance for the farmers who got affected by Nargis.
In 2013, the World Health Organization reported that 1 in 3 women globally will experience Sexual or Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in her lifetime. A study released in 2011 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had already produced similar findings in the US, while noting that along with 1 in 3 American women, as many as 1 in 4 American men will experience this violence as well.
The situation in South Sudan constitutes a humanitarian crisis. Over 3 million people are at acute risk of food insecurity. Despite some signs of progress along the way, nine months of peace talks have seen few tangible results.
Wessington Springs, SD: Two local congregations say 'thank you' to the wider United Church of Christ and One Great Hour of Sharing.
By 2015, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day will drop to roughly half of what it was in 1990. Still, 805 million people remain chronically undernourished.
One Great Hour of Sharing highlights the Angel to Angel Project: Cards and Care for Prayers
The United Church of Christ is part of IMA WorldHealth, not only providing treated malaria nets in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also the personal touch of teaching people to hang it properly for optimal effectiveness.
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the United Nation’s World Food Programme joined members of Bread for the World on September 30th for a conversation on global hunger which Highlighted - Food availability and access. Through the United Church of Christ, you are part of Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad by changing policies, programs and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist.
For over 30 years the Federated Church of Rochester, Vermont has made Church World Service one of its major missions. Estelle Holmquist has been leading this drive since she started at the church.
OGHS supports Bread for the World. Get their annual report and join in on this wonderful Christian Bible Study about Food and Food Security in the World.
Welcoming Refugees is one of the cornerstones of the Refugee and Immigration Ministries of the United Church of Christ. Together with UCC Local Church Members, thousands of refugees have started their new lives with love and kindness.
In scripture, when God’s will is being done, resources are shared and everyone benefits. We see this perhaps most notably through iconic feeding stories such as manna in the wilderness, the miracle of the loaves, and the Last Supper.
The Muslim holy month of fasting and charity, Ramadan, came to an end with the Eid celebration on July 28th. During Ramadan, as the sun set and families gathered to eat a simple meal, many displaced Syrian refugees struggled for access to food.