The reality is that we are UMCOR! It is our praying, giving, and going that comprises what we often refer to by the acronym of our United Methodist Committee on Relief. UMCOR is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the globe. UMCOR’s work includes programs and projects in disaster response, health, sustainable agriculture, food security, relief supplies, and more. There are only a few paid staff in this as so much of the effort is through our UMC members and partnerships which multiplies our giving, going, and serving.
Note that when a disaster hits a location in the United States the first phase, which always captures both media attention and our hearts, is the emergency phase. Only emergency personnel should be in the location at this time. While there is a tendency to want to "jump in the car and go." the reality is that far too often that initial wave of donated stuff, volunteers who show up unannounced, and folk who use the already limited or stressed resources of food, lodging, gas, etc., actually do more harm than good.
At the initial stage, which could be days or weeks, our very best response is prayer, and our financial giving. The local church and that United Methodist conference are the ones who are in best position to know what is happening, what is needed, and then offer an invitation for any outside assistance required. This allows for the coordination of supplies and volunteers in partnership with local officials, all the helping agencies, and those outside the disaster who are available to assist. We are thankful for your heart for service, and for your eagerness to assist as requested.
You can keep up with all the national and international responses of UMCOR here.
It is especially important that your church be prepared to be useful BEFORE a disaster, therefore we strongly encourage every congregation and district to host preparedness training which will make you and our response team available for local, district, state, and regional disasters. Note that it is necessary to do supplementary training prior to the certification and badge expiring at the end of three years. The UMCOR badges are part of the national system which allows you to be part of an early response team. To connect with our conference disaster response committee, and to invite a trainer to your church or district, you can find detailed information at this link.
Of course, as with any disaster, the recovery phase takes the longest time and requires many, many more teams which are usually more related to UMVIM. Find the current disaster response project list here.
Here is recent NGA news related to disaster response.