Written by Anthony Moujaes
Following reports of deaths and widespread devastation left in the wake of one the most destructive storms in modern history, the United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is issuing an appeal for financial support, in an effort to raise $250,000 to continue relief to the people in the Philippines.
"UCC people are known to be compassionate and generous. We anticipate this appeal being fully funded as an embodiment of our UCC core values," said the Rev. James Moos, executive minister for Wider Church Ministries.
The UCC assistance will fund early response and long-term recovery efforts of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), and partners in the ACT Alliance with significant operations in that country. The initial gifts will likely cover the cost of provisioning supplies, along with providing emergency shelter items, drinking water and money.
Early reports indicate that Typhoon Haiyan, which made landfall in the Philippines on Friday, has killed as many as 10,000 people and affected almost 4.5 million.
"The damage clearly is massive given the breadth of the storm," said Susan Sanders, minister for UCC's Global Sharing of Resources. "We’ve seen communities severely affected – many of them are poor-stricken areas in the Philippines. We’re coordinating with our partners and other churches around the world for this appeal. At this time we’re trying to raise resources in addition to the resources we already sent over there last week."
The UCC immediately sent $15,000 in grants, funded by One Great Hour of Sharing, to the ACT Alliance and UCCP Friday after the typhoon came ashore. The money raised with this $250,000 appeal will assist in the long-term recovery, likely to last several years. Since the UCC communicated the need for additional assistance, almost $40,000 in three days has been contributed to the fund for Typhoon Haiyan.
A UCC congregation in New York City, Filipino-American United Church of Christ, which is made up primarily of immigrants from the Philippines, is trying to gather news about conditions after the storm, hoping to find out if family and friends are safe.
"We are about a 60 to 65 member congregation, and we have members who mostly come from the south part of the island," said the Rev. Ruben Cedino. "Since last night, the power is down and there is no way to know the situation and condition of their family members there. We’re getting most of our information through Facebook.
"The reports have been sketchy. It’s a major concern, and though we don’t [all] have family there, we have friends."
On Oct. 15, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Bohol province in central Philippines, displacing almost 350,000 people in makeshift shelters and leaving them in serious need for relief aid. Cedino said the congregation, which formed in 1993, was raising money for earthquake relief, and will now focus on typhoon victims. "For us its overwhelming, this tragedy and the other," he said.
As of now Haiyan is a tropical storm, having weakened as it made landfall near the Vietnam-China border.
Learn more about donating toward the $250,000 appeal through Wider Church Ministries, and use the available UCC resource materials for worship bulletins.