United Methodist Committee on Relief

UMCOR grants continue to support ongoing recovery

By Bella Simonetti*

“We take for granted the monumental work that we in The United Methodist Church do,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, the board president for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). “It’s normal to us, but it’s viewed as exceptional work by the outside world.” 

UMCOR’s board of directors approved an unprecedented amount in the form of grants during the annual spring board meeting. More than $46 million was awarded in support of disaster relief and recovery, global health projects, and sustainable development. 

A significant amount of money was approved for grants supporting ongoing recovery projects related to 2017 disasters, including wildfires in California and hurricanes. 

It is estimated that last year’s hurricanes caused more than $200 billion worth of damage in the United States. To alleviate some of the burden on impacted communities in the United States and in the Caribbean, UMCOR approved $7 million in grants during its 2017 fall board meeting

“There’s a lot of great work being done, and a lot to celebrate, but there’s still a lot of hardship and suffering, as evidenced by many of these grants,” said Cathy Earl, UMCOR director of disaster response and U.S. partner relations. 


Communities devastated by 2017 hurricanes dread the upcoming hurricane season. “There are still homes and churches to be repaired,” said Bishop Bickerton. “That reality is balanced by this drive to resilient reconstruction.” 

Known for being “the last to leave,” UMCOR upholds its reputation by awarding recovery grants to its partners working on the ground. Board members approved almost $40 million to support U.S. disaster response projects.

After hurricane Maria, UMCOR approved $5 million between previous grants and other assistance to the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico (MCPR). On April 13, 2018, UMCOR board members approved three separate grants to MCPR, including a grant for $15 million. These grants will allow the church to continue to expand its comprehensive recovery work through 2020. 

“There is good, responsible, accountable work being done in Puerto Rico with all of these grants, and it’s a pleasure to associate with them and work with them.” Said Bishop Bickerton, who recently visited Puerto Rico to meet with members of MCPR. 

UMCOR board members also approved grants to support international disasters, sustainable development, and global health programs. 

To conclude the committee meeting, Bishop Bickerton asked UMCOR board members about their thoughts when approving grants. “Every time we go through a grant, I write down the number of direct beneficiaries,” said board secretary Katie Dawson.

“I think about the scope of what we can do together,” said Sara Ann White, another board member. “For me, UMCOR is one of the kingdom-building places of The United Methodist Church. It’s just absolutely miraculous what a group of people can do with focus and a commitment to carry through.” 

“I think of all the people who give to the church, who have trusted us with their gifts and enable this work to take place,” said board member Dan Bryant. “When we say we’re a connectional, worldwide church, there’s integrity in what we’re saying. We live that out and touch lives.” 

Other grants approved at UMCOR’s 2018 spring board meeting include (but are not limited to) the following: 

California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church: $1,348,989
Project Title: Northern California 2017 Firestorm Recovery and Empowerment

Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church: $1,584,000
Project Title: Hurricane Harvey Recovery Phase II

Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church: $4,817,113
Project Title: Hurricane Harvey Recovery Phase II

Rio Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church: $5,000,000
Project Title: Hurricane Harvey Recovery

Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church: $8,000,000
Project Title: Hurricane Irma Recovery Phase II

Muslim Aid: $500,000
Project Title: Flood Recovery and Resilience to Flood Affected Communities
in Sirajgong District, Bangladesh

Middle East Council of Churches: $499,861.85
Project Title: Preserving Resiliency and Dignity of Syrian Migration Crisis-Affected
Refugees and Host Communities in Lebanon

Evangelical Methodist Church of Ecuador: $500,000
Project Title: Reconstruction to Address Family and Community Needs Post-April
2016 Earthquake

Prosperity Catalyst: $508,903
Project Title: Haiti Women’s Economic Empowerment

National Justice for Our Neighbors (NJFON): $172,380
Project Title: Expanding the JFON Network’s Capacity to Serve More
Immigrant Clients

United Methodist Church of Central Congo: $279,198
Project Title: Maternal newborn and Child Health (Phase 2) at Dingele,
Diengenga and Ongodu

United Mission Hospital Tansen, Nepal: $109,198
Project Description: Center for Mental Health Construction

*Bella Simonetti is a communications specialist from Mission Engagement for Global Ministries.