With each passing hurricane season, I believe that we as United Methodists are more and more prepared to respond if, God forbid, we are hit with another Katrina-like hurricane.
We are better prepared because we now have more than 10,000 United Methodist volunteers who have taken our Early Response training and have an UMCOR badge signifying they are ready to respond. We have met, week by week, with local congregations and walked them through our Connecting Neighbors local church preparedness training. We have continued to modify and update our case management processes, our signature one-on-one disaster ministry. Finally, we are better prepared because the most disaster-prone annual conferences have made disaster preparedness an important part of their conference agenda.
With all these advances in our preparedness, along with the knowledge we have gained from experience and the amazing support that continually flows from every church pew across the United States, we have the best resources to answer the call when nature hands us the worst of circumstances.
As a faith-based organization specializing in disaster readiness and response, we at UMCOR know that all that we are and do is undergirded by our faith in Jesus Christ. Our ministry is an outflow of God’s work in creation and Christ’s work in us. While we work in response to our relationship with a holy God, we respect the dignity of all persons and never force our beliefs on others, nor is our help ever dependent upon the belief, ethnicity, income, or stance of the recipient. We truly live out the Wesleyan call: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.”
*Rev. Tom Hazelwood is UMCOR’s assistant general secretary for U.S. Disaster Response.