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.
Volunteering for a disaster work team is a marvelous experience, but it can also break your heart a little. So affirmed UCC Penn Central Conference Disaster Coordinators Bill and Ellen Matten after volunteering for a week at the UCC’s hurricane recovery site in Volusia County, Fla. Read about their experience. Will you be next to volunteer?
A UCC congregation and its community are under siege in Ventura, Calif., surrounded by raging wildfires that authorities say could get worse before they get better. As of Wednesday evening the buildings which house the Church of the Foothills were still standing, but the pastor, the Rev. Kris Bergstrom, said that many of her church families and their neighbors have lost everything.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria wiped out water treatment systems in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, leaving people without clean drinking water. According to the Department of Defense, 55% of Puerto Rico was left without clean drinking water. Your help is needed this GivingTuesday. A $20 filter ensures 1 million gallons of fresh water!
Rev. Dr. Melinda V. McLain, Disaster Ministry Coordinator, Northern California-Nevada Conference UCC, writes, "Virtually no one in Northern California will soon forget the terrible devastation of the early October firestorms that swept through Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Yuba and Solano counties. Our NCNC-UCC churches and organizations quickly sprang into action ...."
The United Church of Christ's 2017 Hurricane Relief Fund has received a generous gift from the residents, team members and friends of Retirement Housing Foundation (RHF), more than $100,000, which helped push UCC disaster donations earmarked to assist people affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria over the $2 million mark.
UCC's Pennsylvania Southeast Conference (PSEC) is the lead voluntary agency in a public-private collaboration to welcome hundreds of Puerto Rican families fleeing dire post-Maria conditions on the island and seeking refuge in Philadelphia.