By Christie R. House*
Who in your family is the one you go to when you need help—the relative with your best interest at heart who will act out of love and compassion?
Across the global church, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is a dependable and faithful family member that, over its 77 years, has likely touched every US conference and central conference in one way or another, at one time or another.
Mellie Jordan (foreground), the Mississippi Conference Disaster Recovery Director, leads UMCOR staff on a tour of damage caused by a tornado in January 2017. PHOTO: CATHERINE EARL
Beyond the church, UMCOR has been sent out on behalf of United Methodists to people who may have never heard of John Wesley. People deeply affected by natural disaster, war, or grinding poverty have received UMCOR’s help and a path to regain their footing in hard times. When UMCOR receives a call for help, its staff contacts other UMC or Methodist family members to see how they’re doing, and what they’re already doing, and what they need help doing to respond to the disasters they face. In places where there is limited United Methodist connection, UMCOR works with partners—sometimes other Christian denominations, or interfaith relief agencies, or other humanitarian agencies—to answer a call for help. UMCOR’s role is to seek out people who have not received help or to fill a gap in services where its expertise is needed.
The cross at Belin United Methodist Church in Murrels Inlet, South Carlolina, taken during Hurricane Matthew, October 2016. PHOTO: VICTORIA BARLOW/BERLIN UMC
The UMC family puts its faith in UMCOR, and likewise, UMCOR clearly puts its faith in the UMC family. There is no other way for this relatively small agency of Global Ministries to have such impact around the world. Today, every US conference has a disaster response office along with clergy and laity trained and ready to help the church respond in times of emergency. That was a long-term strategic vision carried out by UMCOR—training people, depending on them to find and train more people, year after year—until every conference is equipped. Other examples of strategic UMCOR programs that train and equip partners have been the development of the African UMC health boards and regional Disaster Risk Reduction trainings.
UMCOR’s work is so well integrated with United Methodist mission and outreach ministries that, at times, it is difficult to tell the work of UMCOR from the work of the United Methodist connection. That’s the family at its best.
If, by chance, your church missed UMCOR Sunday on March 26—which used to be called One Great Hour of Sharing—know that your congregation can support the work of this United Methodist family member any time of year, not just on one designated Sunday. Visit http://www.umcgiving.org/umcor for more details.
*Christie R. House is the editor of New World Outlook magazine. This editorial was written for the Spring 2017 issue of the magazine on the work on the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Used by permission.