UMCOR serves as a “voice of conscience among Methodists to act in the relief of human suffering without distinction of race, color, or creed.” So said Bishop Herbert Welch at General Conference in 1940 when UMCOR’s forerunner, the Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief (MCOR), was started. The goal then was to respond to suffering among peoples overseas after the onset of World War II.
Although the committee was supposed to be temporary, General Conference, the church’s legislative body, re-approved its work every four years. In 1972, the committee was made a permanent part of the General Board of Global Ministries and renamed the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). A structure was formalized and the committee’s scope expanded to include disaster relief in the United States.
Since then, UMCOR has helped survivors of earthquakes in Nicaragua, famine in Africa, and tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes in the United States. As countries such as Liberia, Rwanda, and Bosnia experienced civil strife, UMCOR was there to help affected communities rebuild homes and lives. We provided communities with training and education to help them confront hunger and poverty.
UMCOR has provided relief to survivors of earthquakes in Haiti and Chile; floods in Pakistan; and the 2011 tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear threat in Japan; our field office in Afghanistan has helped rebuild communities torn apart by decades of war, and we provided long-term recovery aid to communities in the US South devastated by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike.
For additional reading on the history of UMCOR, please see Love in Action, by Norma Kehrberg, Abington Press, 1989. Learn about the work we're currently doing through the weekly UMCOR Hotline.