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United Methodists offer resources to help people ‘Be the Hope’

 


United Methodists offer resources to help people ‘Be the Hope’

Sept. 23, 2005

By Linda Green*
 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church is urging members to “Be the Hope” in responding to the needs of people affected by the recent hurricanes.

The church is providing a wide range of resources to help individuals, congregations and communities respond to those in need.

Resources provided by United Methodist Communications urge church members and the wider community — in the words of the denomination’s recent ad after Hurricane Katrina — to “Volunteer. Take action. Be the hope.” 

The church offers “a community of support, safety and security when catastrophes disrupt the lives of individuals in affected areas,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive officer of UMCom.

Those who volunteer to assist survivors “personify that hope and concern of the larger community,” he said.

“If you contribute to the United Methodist Committee on Relief for long-term relief, if you put together flood buckets or hygiene kits, if you join in prayer for those who are affected, if you volunteer to help in cleanup or operate a shelter, or encourage friends or the place where you work to make a financial contribution, you are being a concrete manifestation of hope,” he said.
 
Resources for grief, loss

At the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, leaders of children’s ministries are providing tips and links to help children deal with disaster, grief and loss at http://www.gbod.org/children/articles.asp?item_id=14862.

The agency’s worship section has created a prayer titled, “Waiting on Rita,” at http://www.gbod.org/worship/default.asp?act=reader&item_id=14931. Other prayers and hymns for disaster response are available at www.umcworship.org.

There are times when people want to lament or vent. The board and Umc.org, the denomination’s Web site administered by UMCom, offers “Lord, Hear Our Prayers” for people to offer thoughts and prayers for those who are suffering physically, emotionally or spiritually.

According the Rev. Safiyah Fosua, director of invitational preaching ministries at the Board of Discipleship, the prayer resources “offer a means for individuals and congregations to give voice before God in the context of worship to what we are all feeling with the hope and assurance that God cares about all that has happened.”

Web tools, bulletin inserts

A resource from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Methodist Communications allows individuals and church groups to invite their friends and constituents to share in giving to bring hope and healing to hurricane victims. The resource, “Friends Asking Friends,” enables people to create a customized personal Web page to help friends to give to UMCOR’s Hurricane Relief effort. The resource is available at www.UMC.org.

In an effort to support local church ministry needs throughout the hurricane season, UMCOR has developed “Finding Hope in the Midst of Despair,” a church bulletin insert designed to be a source of support for people experiencing difficult situations. The bulletin, offered in Adobe PDF formats, is available at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/print/bulletininserts/hurricanekatrina.cfm.  

The relief agency is also offering hospitality guides for churches, individuals, camps and others hosting evacuees. Go to http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/05/guidelines.cfm.

UMC.org has developed a set of tools allowing webmasters to offer denominational Web-based stories, resources and even streaming video through their church Web site. The newest Hurricane Response “syndication” resource permits a church to raise funds to support UMCOR’s hurricane response. Visit www.UMC.org to learn how to add this syndication to your Web site.  

The denomination’s site will continue to offer a timely collection of denominational resources to support local church ministry needs throughout the hurricane season.

Tips for responding

The United Methodist Endorsing Agency, at the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, is providing tips for handling crises, written by Jim Robey, at http://www.gbhem.org/chaplains/WhatsNewInfo.asp?articleID=42.

The endorsing agency also has provided prayers for emerging workers and caregivers.  The prayers at http://www.gbhem.org/chaplains/worshipresourcesArticle.asp?articleID=6 ask for strength and guidance for those helping people in the hurricanes’ aftermath.

Igniting Ministry, the television and welcoming ministry of the United Methodist Church, has developed three downloadable resources for local churches to use in their print publications or as advertisements in support of hurricane relief. Offered in a PDF format, these files can be used as artwork for bulletin covers or inserts, on church Web sites, or as posters in the church building. Visit www.UMC.org to download them.

Glory E. Dharmaraj and the Upper Room offer Scriptures, reflection and comfort amid natural calamity. Dharmaraj, a staff member of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, urges people to be a “good neighbor at http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wdnews.cfm?articleid=3445. The Upper Room provides words or comfort and seven suggestions for healing and renewal in the midst of stress and anxiety at http://www.upperroom.org/comfort/article_flora.asp.

The Texas Conference and portions of the Southwest Texas Conference are in the path of Hurricane Rita. Through the Southwest Texas Conference’s Office of Disaster Response, a checklist of actions to take before hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters threaten was sent to church leaders and members. The checklist at http://www.umcswtx.org/flood/TE.pdf can be adapted for any natural disaster.

Donations to support the United Methodist response to Hurricane Katrina can be made online at www.methodistrelief.org and by phone at (800) 554-8583. Checks can be written to UMCOR, designated for “Hurricanes 2005 Global,” Advance No. 982523, or the “Hurricane Rita appeal,” UMCOR Advance No. 901323, and left in church offering plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068.

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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