OGHS Stories

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.


HIV/AIDS

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.


Volunteers help war veteran salvage homeownership dream

For 48-year-old Iraq veteran Robert Z. of West Columbia, S.C., buying a house was an important step in his years-long recovery from war-related post-traumatic stress disorder.  But the storms of October 2015 caused damage that upset Robert's dreams - until UCC Disaster Ministries and its partners in the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative stepped forward to help.  


UCC offers aid to W. Va. flood survivors

United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is looking for assistance to help the people in West Virginia recover from historic floods. Thousands are facing a prolonged cleanup effort following deadly and devastating storms that swamped much of the state last week, and the UCC will be there to help long-term.


Ecumenical volunteers help waterlogged S.C. homeowner recover

When it rained hard and steady for more than a week in South Carolina last October, homeowner William H.'s love for the sound of rain on the roof was sorely tested. "The rain was so heavy that water leaked in through all the edges of my home, including the roof and door and window frames," he said.  He struggled to find help repairing the damage until the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative stepped up.


How support for Nepal earthquake recovery touches lives

A widowed shopkeeper in need of a safe home; a chicken farmer in need of "seed money " and a business plan; three villages whose wells suddenly went dry – these are among the beneficiaries of UCC Disaster Ministries’ support for relief and recovery in Nepal following last year’s devastating earthquake, which now totals $240,000.


New Ecuador quake resources for churches

The situation is urgent and the need is great in Ecuador, which suffered a catastrophic earthquake in April that killed 663 people and injured 6,274. Nearly 30,000 people are still in temporary shelters. One million people and 90 percent of homes have been affected. The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are seeking to raise $500,000 for Ecuador earthquake recovery and have just co-published resources for churches to use to educate their members and rally their support. 


UCC Ecuador Earthquake Response Page

A summary, updated in early June, of the April 2016 Ecuador earthquakes disaster and what United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is doing to help relief and recovery. JUST ADDED TO THE PAGE: an Ecuador earthquake bulletin insert, materials for children, a youth activity and a bookmark.


Disaster Ministries addresses UCC churches in Micronesia

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.


Deadline Now May 31 for Disaster Recovery Support Initiative Applicants

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.


UCC aids flood recovery in Texas

As the cleanup continues in Texas following high winds and flash floods in late April, UCC members are teaming up with the Houston Association of the South Central Conference and UCC Disaster Ministries to help the people affected by the storms find normal again.


New UCC homes help shelter Filipino families

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.


UCC affirms commitment to Nepal quake recovery

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.  


UCC Nepal earthquake response page

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.


Joint Appeal for Ecuador Earthquake Relief

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.


Refugee Work in Thailand

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 Supports W. Va. Bridge Project

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.


Japan Partners Thank UCC for Support After Triple Disaster

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.


UCC Remembers Japan's 2011 Disasters


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.


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Xiaoling_being_tested_for_Radiation.jpg

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


UCC Helps Winston-Battered Fiji Rebuild

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. 


UCC Fills Critical Unmet Need in Fiji

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.


UCC Cyclone Winston Response Page (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.