Mission Relief Agency Meets the Challenge of 2020

South Brookley United Methodist Church in Mobile Source: United Methodist News

For many, 2020 seemed to be a year of nonstop bad news. Not only did COVID-19 disrupt the normalcy of our lives, but around the world there were back to back natural disasters that created deserts of despair where people are looking for hope.

Seeking to be Christ’s hands and feet in such tumultuous spaces, the United Methodist Church’s thirty plus years of strategically investing in missions and humanitarian training both in the U.S. and around the globe paid dividends.

In response to 2020, UMCOR – the United Methodist Committee on Relief – and its parent agency, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, has responded to meet diverse humanitarian needs through 38 active grants of $19 million in the U.S. alone.

Lara Martin, interim director of U.S. disaster response for UMCOR said, “If that sounds like a large number, it is.”

Challenged by the pandemic to make disaster response training events virtual, this year UMCOR conducted 72 virtual training sessions that reached 1,287 individuals.

Most notably, this year through the denomination’s Abundant Health Campaign in conjunction with the United Nations program, “Every Woman Every Child: The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health,” the agency was able to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions.

In the U.S., the largest UMCOR disaster response grant for $370,000 was awarded to the Alabama-West Florida Conference in response to damage left in the wake of Hurricane Sally in September.

Teams from across the country were able to use grant funds to assist 37 households with home repair needs in places such as rural Marlow, an unincorporated community near Fish River, Alabama, in south Baldwin County, which has a large Hispanic population.

Further, an international grant went to the Philippines totalling $180,978.  The funds were used to assist the Davao Episcopal Area disaster management office to help mitigate the risk of flooding; constructing four pedestrian bridges that will allow residents of Barangay Lamlahakby in Mindanao, Philippines, to safely evacuate and remain connected to essential services.

As UMCOR moves into 2021, the organization hopes to be able to continue to train people to respond to complex natural disasters while remaining engaged in communities where they feel called to serve.

Source: United Methodist News