We have received many requests for information from people who want to respond to the tornado affected areas in Oklahoma and Joplin, MO. At this time we have been requested to not send any volunteers into these areas. During the initial phases of emergency recovery a surge of volunteers can cause more harm than good. As things progress we will keep you updated on the ways you can serve through OK VIM.
Currently, there is a need for teams to serve in Tushka, OK which was hit by a tornado on May 14th. The recovery continues and the need is great: 149 homes were destroyed, 47 have major damage and 33 have minor damage. If you are a certified team leader and are ready to put together a team to serve in Tushka please contact Richard Norman at 405-530-2032, RNorman@okumc.org for more information.
From Bishop Schnase of the Missouri Conference
Subject: Schnase Note on Joplin Tornado
I give God thanks for every one of you for your many kind emails, voice messages, phone calls, and expressions of concern following the devastating tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, MO. Among those killed were several United Methodists, and every United Methodist Church in the area has members who have lost their homes. All our pastors and church staff are safe. We lost two church buildings, including St. Paul United Methodist Church (a large, strong, vibrant congregation with an average attendance of close to 1000), and we lost the District Superintendent’s Office. Several other churches and parsonages received more limited damage. The hospital and five of the seven schools in Joplin were nearly completely destroyed.
The Missouri Conference Disaster Response team has been active and effective from the earliest hours, and many of our churches have sent trained First Responder teams. Tom Hazelwood from UMCOR was on the ground in Joplin within 24 hours. Many of you have generously offered funds directly to the Missouri Conference and others have expressed your intention of supporting the UMCOR Spring Storms appeal. All of your gifts are appreciated. In addition many have expressed their active interest in sending VIM teams to the area. Please refrain from doing so during the immediate days ahead since only highly trained and professional teams are on-site at this time. However, we shall covet your help during the weeks and months to come.
The city of Joplin was named after Rev. Harris Joplin, an early Methodist preacher who settled there in 1839. For years, he hosted people in his home and led them in worship, prayer, and singing. His ministry was one of hospitality in the truest sense, and he used his own humble dwelling as a tool for ministry. As far as I know, the building he used no longer exists, but the church community he founded provided the seeds from which dozens of area congregations have sprouted. All of us who are Missouri United Methodists are to some degree the fruit of his ministry.
Tornadoes and hurricanes and floods and fires can take away our beloved and sacred places in a moment’s time, but the love of God that binds us to another is not nearly so vulnerable. God’s persistent and persevering love causes us to reach out to help a neighbor and to embrace strangers and to assist one another in the rebuilding of lives. The church is not the pile of lumber and bricks left after the destroying winds and rains; the church is the gathering of people standing above the rubble unified by the spirit of Christ to love and serve others. The church is the people counseling one another through unfathomable grief and loss. The church is people risking lives for their neighbors and opening their homes to strangers. The church is people across the state and nation and world praying and giving and preparing to offer their best and highest in service to help rebuild lives. The church is alive and vigorous and redeeming. It is grace in every gesture and love in every action. The church is the body of Christ doing the things Jesus did in Jesus’ name today.
Thanks to you, United Methodists will rebuild in Joplin. On behalf of others of our colleagues whose areas have been affected by tornados and floods, I strongly encourage you to lift up the UMCOR Spring Storms appeal. Funds at UMCOR are extraordinarily low right now, and this severely limits our capacity to act quickly and effectively during times of tragedy. Your help is appreciated.
Yours in Christ,
HOW YOU CAN HELP
From the office of Creative Ministries-Missouri Conference
You have indicated your desire to serve those affected by recent disasters in the state of Missouri via our online form. Our conference is so very grateful for the overwhelming support and encouragement we have received in the wake of the tornado in Joplin. Thank you.
While we are in the coordination phase of this disaster you can expect to receive updates in this format. As volunteer opportunities become available I will share them with you in an email like this. Here are some things for you to know now:
We are currently arranging the utilization of trained Early Response Teams (ERT's). ERT's are individuals or groups who have been through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Basic Training course, have completed their Annual Conference Background Check procedures and have received an UMCOR ERT badge. In the early phases of disaster it is important for us to utilize teams with the knowledge of extreme disaster scenarios, debris removal policies (for insurance companies, FEMA, SEMA, etc.), and with a good understanding of what it means to provide appropriate spiritual and emotional support to disaster survivors. The ERT Basic course equips volunteers to enter a disaster scenario with a solid understanding of these areas. If you are interested in attending an ERT Basic training course contact your local Volunteers in Mission or Disaster Coordinator via your Jurisdictional Coordinator.
If you are not part of an ERT there are still things you can do now to serve the people of Joplin. In Missouri, through the Festival of Sharing, we are collecting Emergency Clean Up Buckets and Personal Hygiene Packs. Contents of the buckets and packs as well as drop off sites within the state of Missouri can be found on our website. Emergency Clean Up Buckets can also be donated through UMCOR distribution centers. These kits are needed now and will be for future disasters as well. Monetary donations are especially useful at this time as they can be used for immediate and long term needs. You can make online donations via the Missouri Conference Office of Creative Ministries website at www.umocm.com or through UMCOR's Spring Storm fund.
Joplin, Missouri has been overwhelmed by the generous donations of materials goods, but is struggling with the amount of unaffiliated donations that are being dropped off all the time. Please keep this in mind as you plan your future response to the Joplin disaster.
Thank-you all again for your generous support. Please keep the people of Joplin in your prayers as they work to rebuild their lives.
Volunteers in Mission
PACIFIC NORTHWEST CONFERENCE NEWS
Please visit our UMVIM Disaster Response Facebook page, Facebook.com/umvim.pnwumc, to find links to the latest information on the tornadoes in the mid and south west.
We are not planning to send ERTs to Missouri at the present time. I am trying to make contact with the Disaster Response team in the Missouri Conference to determine how we can best support them.
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