United Methodist Committee on Relief

January 2013 | UMCOR Hotline

Tropical Cyclone Ian cut a swath of destruction through the South Pacific island nation of Tonga.
About two weeks ago, a Category-5 storm, Tropical Cyclone Ian, cut a swath of destruction through the South Pacific island nation of Tonga, an archipelago of 176 islands. Ha’apai Islands, home to about 8,000 people, were most affected, with up to 90 percent of homes destroyed.

Cyclone Ian carried wind gusts of up to 178 miles per hour. The storm killed one person and sent hundreds of people into church buildings for shelter. Access to water and the threat of waterborne diseases are immediate concerns.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is communicating with partners to determine the most appropriate response, as needs assessments continue.

Tonga’s economy relies on fish exports, tourism and remittances from Tongan communities overseas. About 40 percent of the population lives in poverty.

You can support UMCOR’s relief efforts with your gifts to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450.
Give now

Pray for thousands of people affected by intense flooding in southern Philippines
Please pray for thousands of people affected by intense flooding in southern Philippines, which was caused by torrential rainfall in recent days. According to news reports, more than 200,000 people were evacuated and taken to shelters and some were marooned on the roofs of their houses.

About 42 people died and 65 were injured, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Some of the hardest hit areas, including Hinatuan and Surigao, have received more than four feet of rain since Jan. 1, with rainfall occurring each day so far this year.

Margot B. Bokanga oversees Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Zimbabwe program areas for UMCOR.
Margot B. Bokanga is UMCOR program manager for International Programs and is responsible for working with UMCOR’s offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

Bokanga says, “The opportunity to work for a Christian organization that is rooted in humanitarian principles and supports individuals in rebuilding their lives with dignity is what drives my continued desire to serve as an actor of change with UMCOR and support its field missions. This is why UMCOR is a good fit. I look forward to the professional growth this opportunity will offer.”

Bokanga is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and grew up in Kinshasa. She has a background in international peace, conflict resolution, and protection of beneficiaries. Bokanga has worked with the United States Institute of Peace in outreach to the Congolese diaspora and with the Asian Partnership for Human Development in Bangkok, supporting efforts to end the trafficking of women and children. She also worked with InterAction on its Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse program. Bokanga is fluent in French and Lingala, in addition to English.

Eco Palms bulletin cover
Each year, Americans purchase as much as $4.5 million worth of palms—mostly for church celebrations and events like Palm Sunday. Through conventional harvesting, very little of the profits from sales reaches the palm harvesters in Latin America and their communities.

Through Eco-Palms, however, harvesters are paid a fair price for quality palms. The premiums they receive go back into their communities to help send children to school or support community projects. What’s more, Eco-Palms are harvested in a way that protects the environment and the health of the palm.

Palm Sunday is April 13. Place your order for Eco-Palms by March 21, 2014. Visit


In this new video, learn how your donations to One Great Hour of Sharing make it possible for UMCOR to keep its lights on and help underwrite UMCOR’s cost of doing business every day.

Giving to OGHS also assures that 100% of all other contributions you make go to the projects you specify, instead of on administrative or fundraising costs. Watch this promotional video to learn more, and click here for additional resources such as sermon starters, bulletin inserts, posters, and more.

One Great Hour of Sharing is March 30, but contributions to this offering can be made all year around.


UMCOR provides emergency relief in many areas of the world. To find out more about UMCOR's ministries, please visit You can donate to any project by placing a contribution in the offering plate at a local United Methodist church by sending a check to:

PO Box 9068
New York, NY 10087-9068
or by calling 1-800-554-8583, where credit card donations are accepted. You can also give online by clicking any of the "DONATE" links or make a $10 donation anytime by texting "UMCOR" to 80888. UMCOR is exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and qualifies for the maximum charitable contribution deduction by donors.

And, please pray for those who are hungry, displaced, sick or in poverty because of these and other natural and human-made disasters, and for the workers who minister to them.

Photo Captions

Image 1. Tropical Cyclone Ian cut a swath of destruction through the South Pacific island nation of Tonga.
Image courtesy of

Image 2. Please pray for those affected by intense flooding in the Philippines.
Photo by Mike DuBose

Image 3. Margot B. Bokanga oversees Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Zimbabwe program areas for UMCOR.
Christopher Tricomi

Image 4. Women take great care selecting quality palms, a critical step in the process of preparing palm orders.
ProNatura Sur S.A.


Be Sure To Receive The Weekly Hotline
Some Internet Service Providers like AOL, Yahoo!, Hotmail, and Juno use web filtering software that allows you to add web addresses to a "buddy," "trusted," "safe," or approved list. Please add to your list so that UMCOR messages don't end up in "junk mail" or the "trash."

Mission Statement
Compelled by Christ to be a voice of conscience on behalf of the people called Methodist, UMCOR works globally to alleviate human suffering and advance hope and healing.