When you are an immigrant and disaster strikes, where do you turn for help? In Northern California, after the wildfires of last October, hundreds of Spanish speaking and other especially vulnerable survivors have been turning to First Congregational Church UCC of Sonoma (FCCS), a leading safe "go to" place, with support from UCC Disaster Ministries.
Rebeca and Nestor are promoting peace in their communities thanks to rooftop rainwater harvesting. Conflicts over land and water rights between indigenous people and “criollo” settlers have been a reality for nearly 100 years in the Argentine and Bolivian Chaco. Today, the settlers are as poor as their indigenous neighbors, and the existence of both groups is threatened by frequent six-month droughts. As Nestor puts it, “When it comes to water, there is no difference between us.”
Two years ago this month, Sepa and his wife Josivini had cause to wonder whether they and their neighbors would live or die as Cyclone Winston roared across their Fiji Islands community of Navakawau, on Taveuni Island, blowing away 96 of the village’s 111 homes, including theirs. Thanks to UCC Disaster Ministries, they had shelter in the community hall while they rebuilt their home - and now, reliable drinking water and a new health center.
Six members of St. Paul's UCC in St. Louis, Mo., spent a week in a Harvey-battered neighborhood of Houston late last year replacing a homeowner's flood-soaked drywall and retrofitting the bathroom to make it handicapped accessible. Pastor Mike Roth shares some of the group's thought-provoking learnings.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries continues to be at the helm of outreach to the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have sought shelter in Pennsylvania since Hurricane Maria wreaked death and destruction across their island in late September 2017. Work that began at a Disaster Assistance Services Center in Philadelphia is now rolling out to seven other Pennsylvania cities through a series of resource fairs.
In 2015, Luisa joined a 5-year agricultural project through the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD). With farmers like Luisa, CEPAD is working to improve lives through planting seeds that will bear abundant fruit for today, tomorrow, and years to come. With God’s help, these seeds will bear far more than we imagine.
Ecumenical Accompaniment Program participants live in the West Bank for three months and provide support to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and connect with Palestinians and Israelis working together for a just peace. In the United States, EAPPI is supported by churches in partnership with Church World Service (CWS) and welcomes engagement from a wide range of churches, agencies and individuals
Christians are called to be present and to be healers where there are breaks and cracks in the world. Where more than welcoming people fleeing violence and assisting people who have lost everything to disaster? "Those are among the rawest breaks in our world," says Amanda Sheldon, the UCC's new National Disaster and Refugee Ministries Program Associate (since January 16).
With a wealth of arts and culture, the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue in Indonesia has begun impacting the peace movement, and is hoping to see results that will restore the memory of the people to tranquility and peace as a nation. They are committed to the idea that art and culture is a manifesto of the peaceful situation that every generation has aspired to achieve, making it the duty of all its citizens to keep for the future of the nation.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans in the United States. This decision follows the recent TPS terminations for Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti, and is yet another attack on immigrant communities. TPS is a program designed to protect people from being returned to harm - precisely the conditions El Salvador faces today, including gang conscription, sexual violence, and human trafficking. As a nation, we promised to protect nearly 200,000 Salvadoran neighbors by allowing them to remain in the United States.
Join us in urging the administration to restore El Salvador's TPS designation, and calling on Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution for all TPS holders. Click here for our Interfaith Toolkit: 5 Ways to Take Action in the New Year.
Two participants from a remote mountain community tell what your support has meant to them:
Working together as a community, they are reducing poverty, improving nutrition and food security, improving homes with energy-efficient stoves, latrines and water-storage facilities, and replacing dirt floors with cement. The overall project is part of Foods Resources Bank's Honduras-Nueva Frontera program, supported by your gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Romana and Juliana received the simple gift of a piglet that has changed the fortunes of these two mothers. And they, in turn, are “paying it forward,” enabling 10 neighboring families to make life-changing improvements to their circumstances as well.
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. One $20 filter ensures 1 million gallons of fresh water!
The saying, “Peace in the Middle East” has been around for years. And today, through the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), men, women and youth are participating in Peacebuilding and conflict resolution activities around Lebanon, making peace possible.
UCC Disaster Ministries has just contributed $10,000 toward a proactive program to prevent cholera and malnutrition in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Irma, and to treat any instances that occur. The implementing partner is IMA World Health, which has had a significant presence in Haiti since 1998, including relationships with government and communities.
Want to help survivors of Hurricane Irma in the U.S. and Caribbean? Keep an eye on the UCC's main "Harvey response page" for information and resources. Updated regularly!
Want to help survivors of Hurricane Harvey? Keep an eye on the UCC's main "Harvey response page" for information and resources. Updated regularly!
United Church of Disaster Ministries teams are reaching out to pastors and congregations across the entire peninsula of South Florida, as all involved try to assess the damage left behind by Hurricane Irma. "Our denomination helps those nobody else is going to help. That process takes time to identify," said the Rev. Alan Coe, UCC Florida Conference disaster coordinator.
The UCC Disaster Ministries team is being stretched this week, effectively responding to two devastating hurricanes — the aftermath of Harvey and horrific floods on the ground in Texas and Louisiana, and the current chaos Irma is bringing, leaving unprecedented destruction and a rising death toll in the Caribbean, with a pending strike of South Florida.
Linked from our main "Harvey" web page are the information and resources you'll need to support your congregation's Harvey response. You'll find the latest on Harvey's toll and UCC Disaster Ministries' response, including the Harvey Emergency Appeal, how you can best help right now, a congregational bulletin insert, prayers and a new hymn. A similar page is being developed for Irma response.
The United Church of Christ has launched an emergency appeal to help with long term recovery following Hurricane Harvey - a monster storm that has already displaced thousands and continues to dump heavy rain on Texas and Louisiana. Cash is the best way to help right now. Zach Wolgemuth, executive, UCC Disaster Ministries, said, "Evacuations, search and rescue are still underway and volunteers living outside the region are being advised to not travel."
As the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year, the situation continues to be critical. The camps are over-crowded, and the resources as limited as they are, are being stretched to help as many folk as possible. Organizations like the Orthodox Initiative are doing all they can to provide refugees in the camp with the essentials required to start a new life away from home.
When living in desert-like conditions, the need for new summer clothes goes beyond looking or feeling good. As the temperatures rise, adults and children must be covered by the right fabric, and have enough hats and other items for their protection from the sun and comfort in the heat.
On Monday, August 14, a chunk of mountain came down under the force of rain, onto the houses that hugged the slopes of Mount Sugar Loaf about five miles outside the capital Freetown, Sierra Leone, according to government officials and aid agencies.
The House of Hope Haiti is excited about a new project that will eventually become a four-year program to teach ways to treat water in developing countries.
More than two years after the devastating 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, some remote communities are still struggling to repair critical water infrastructure for drinking and crop irrigation. To help, UCC Disaster Ministries has just released $49,818 for two such communities, Kitini Thala and Chitlang. This brings to nearly $290,000 ($289,818) the ministries' funding to date for earthquake recovery in Nepal, mostly for construction of earthquake-resistant housing but also for water systems.
For two struggling families – the Kaipats and the Roppuls – an $11,600 grant from UCC Disaster Ministries will mean recovery at last, two years after the powerful Typhoon Soudelor passed directly across their western Pacific island of Saipan, part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Meet three of the nearly three dozen Daytona Beach-area homeowners who are waiting anxiously for volunteer work teams to help them repair damage from Hurricane Matthew last October. UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with VIND (Volusia Interfaiths/Agencies Networking in Disasters) to recruit and deploy volunteer work teams to help these and other Volusia County, Fla., Hurricane Matthew survivors recover.
Tens of thousands of homes were damaged in North Carolina by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The toll included 24 dead, with the destruction calculated in billions of dollars. Thousands of people were displaced; some are still sheltering in hotels. It was one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the state. And the United Church of Christ has been present and visible from the very start of relief and recovery efforts, providing financial assistance and know-how to help local communities identify and respond to unmet needs.
“We do not offer “before” pictures of the terrible state people are in when they reach us. Each refugee has a story of heartbreak, but thanks to the support of caring people, each story becomes one of hope as we nurture them in Christian love, so they can smile again.”
~Rev. Pereira, Director of Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries.
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?
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.
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!
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.
"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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.