Annual conferences, local church respond to needs in Indonesia
by J. Richard Peck
United Methodists in Indiana and Missouri will be raising money to reconstruct churches, community centers and clinics in Indonesia following the Dec. 26 tsunami.
That response followed a report on a recent visit to Indonesia by the Rev. R. Randy Day, top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, to members of the Connectional Table, which met Jan. 20-23.
After Day told of the need to rebuild churches in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, Bishop Michael Coyner of the Indiana Area pledged $150,000 to rebuild a church/community center/clinic in Banda Aceh, where more than 92,000 people were killed by the Dec. 26 tsunami.
The Rev. Carl Schenck, pastor of the 3,500-member Manchester (Missouri) United Methodist Church, and a member of the Connectional Table, followed suit by pledging $50,000 of the $100,000 needed to build a similar facility in Meulaboh where 80 percent of the town was destroyed and the same percentage of the 50,000 residents were killed.
Asked if he had contacted leaders of the North and South Indiana Annual (regional) conferences before making the pledge, Bishop Coyner told United Methodist News Service that he made contact by e-mail. "I knew our conferences had a long history of supporting missions, but I told them I was sticking my neck out." Kevin McKinney, dean of the South Indiana Conference, wrote back, "We won't let you stick your neck out alone."
Coyner increased his initial pledge from $50,000 to $150,000 to cover the entire cost of rebuilding the facility. He noted that St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis had already raised $50,000 to aid tsunami survivors.
Schenck said his congregation had already raised $37,000 and he was confident the congregation would raise the additional $13,000. He hoped another congregation would pledge the additional $50,000 needed to complete the building in Meulaboh. He said the church already has a relationship with a congregation in Mozambique and has given $8,000 to dig a well for the Mabumbuza community.
Day said the building of the two structures provides a way to address the medical needs of the two communities and the buildings will become centers of hope and direct services. He further hopes the churches will provide an open environment for Muslim-Christian dialogue.
Day also urged churches to provide medicine boxes for 8,600 people living in displaced-persons camps (contents and process are online at gbgm-umc.org/health/medbox/). "Our goal is to supply these camps with medicines as long as the camps are in use," Day said.
"As fuller assessments are done, (the Board of Global Ministries) and the UM Committee on Relief will share multiple opportunities for the wider church," said Bishop Joel Martinez, president of the Board of Global Ministries and a member of the Connectional Table.
*Peck, a clergy member of the United Methodist Church's New York Annual (regional) Conference, is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service. He served as the staff person for the General Council on Ministries' writing team that prepared the Connectional Table legislation for the 2004 General Conference.
Date posted: Jan 24, 2005