Greg Forrester, shown here on his latest journey to Colombia, believes UMCOR offers hope and help to countless people.
By Susan Kim*
July 2, 2013—For decades, encountering people in stress-filled situations has moved Greg Forrester to help. Now the head of US Disaster Response unit of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), he looks back to his last two years at Ithaca College in central New York and sees his own progression of accompanying people through difficult times.
“My last two years of college were spent working as a security guard for Ithaca College while maintaining my residence as a bunker at the Ithaca Fire Department and attending classes,” he said.
A volunteer firefighter for many years, Forrester also worked as a state trooper. He spent a decade in that role which, he said, “placed me squarely in the middle of disasters around the state.”
Within United Methodist Church circles, Forrester is well-known for his leadership in Volunteers in Mission (VIM). Serving for 13 years as the VIM coordinator in the Northeastern Jurisdiction drew him onsite to most US disasters.
But outside of his official resume, his reconnection with his own faith took place in 1995. On a mission trip in Haiti, Forrester suddenly connected his faith with the kind of work he'd always liked.
“Christ and I found each other after being very distant for many years,” he said. “Following that journey—one of work and faith—I realized that by leading people into the mission field—and letting them feel Christ working through them—that their walk with Christ would become stronger.”
Now on the job for two months with UMCOR, Forrester said he realizes the most rewarding part of his role is the fact that he can say “yes” to requests for assistance from people most in need.
“The generosity of our United Methodist churches and members always amazes me,” he said. “Because of them—in eight weeks—UMCOR has been able to respond...”
Here, Forrester ticks off a list of recent disasters, and it appears he has hit the ground running in his new role with UMCOR: “... in West, Granbury, San Antonio, and Bear Pass, TX; in Colorado Springs, CO; in Moore, El Reno, Carney, Shawnee, Fallis, and Little Axe, OK; in Marseilles, IL; in Piedras Negras, Mexico; in Santiago, Cuba—and in several more areas with emergency and long-term grants.”
Forrester believes UMCOR offers more than just money. “It has been rewarding to see the United Methodist churches working in their communities to offer hope and help to those affected by disaster and then to come alongside of them to say: 'you are not alone.' ”
Support UMCOR’s work in US Disaster Response with your gift to UMCOR Advance #901670.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.