United Methodist Relief Agency Issues Emergency Appeal
In Wake of Earthquake and Tidal Waves in Southeast Asia
The relief agency of The United Methodist Church today issued an urgent appeal for donations to assist thousands of Southeast and Southern Asians survivors of one of the most devastating earthquakes and series of tidal waves in recorded history.
The urgency of the appeal from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) was underscored by the top mission executive of the denomination. The Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, urged United Methodists to show their “Christmas love” through their response to a natural disaster that killed an estimated 23,000 people. UMCOR is part of the international mission board.
UMCOR will be working with partner church-related and other humanitarian agencies in providing food, clean water, shelter, and sanitary services in a broadband of nations from Asia to Africa. Virtually all of the Indian Ocean area was affected by the December 26 earthquake that set off tsunamis (tidal waves) of massive size and force.
The area affected includes parts of India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and islands such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Rev. Day noted that many churches and members of the Methodist connection exist in the region. “We send our love and concern not only to them but to their neighbors in a heavily populated and religiously diverse part of the world,” he said.
The exact extent of the destruction was not immediately known. The waters pushed far inland in many countries. There were no reliable figures on the number of persons injured or in need of assistance but the number was thought to be more than one million displaced and at least 250,000 people homeless.
Action by Churches Together (ACT) is providing coordination for the relief efforts of churches around the world. According to the Rev. Kristin Sachen of UMCOR partners in the ACT consortium are providing immediate relief to the displaced. "We will be working with Church World Service in Indonesia and the Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) in India, as well as with other agencies. We know from experience that a coordinated response is both the fastest and the most effective."
In India, CASA has deployed 12 teams to assess the needs and assist people in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala States. The organization reports that it expects to work with 50,000 families.
The island nation of Sri Lanka was one of the hardest hit. As many as 10,000 died there. UMCOR assistance there will be coordinated through the National Council of Churches of Sri Lanka. A relief official with that organization reported that that one immediate need was to provide food and housing for people who were being discouraged from returning home until safety inspections were possible.
In his appeal for assistance, Day said:
Contributions may be placed in the offering plate of any United Methodist Church or sent directly to UMCOR at Room 330, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115. Please indicate that the gift is for “Advance # 274305, Southeast Asia Emergency Relief.”
Statement and Appeal: Southeast and Southern Asia Earthquake and Tidal Waves
The thoughts and prayers of the United Methodist mission family are with those whose lives have been ended or forever changed by the devastating earthquake and tsunamis (tidal waves) in the Indian Ocean region on December 26. The devastation struck while many of us, because of different time zones, were in church celebrating the birth of Jesus.
It is hard to imagine the magnitude of death and destruction. Preliminary news reports indicate that 23,000 people were killed by gigantic waves that washed miles inland after striking land. This was the strongest earthquake in 40 years and the fourth strongest since record keeping on earthquakes began in 1899.
The affected area, including parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives and other countries of the region, is home to many churches and members of the Methodist connection. We send our love and concern not only to them but to their neighbors in a heavily populated and religiously diverse part of the world.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has issued an emergency appeal for donations to assist the survivors with food and shelter and to help control disease that often follows massive natural disasters.
I want to urge United Methodists to support generously our relief efforts, which will be coordinated with those of other church-related and humanitarian organizations. We are still in Christmastide, a time of gift-giving and sharing. Jesus Christ calls us to express our love for him by providing aid in his name to those in need. Let us show the peoples of Southeast and Southern Asia our Christmas love by our response to the UMCOR appeal.
The Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary
Date posted: Dec 27, 2004