Bishop Ward and Bishop Hee-Soo Jung reflect on the life-giving ministry of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
This year, 2015, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of The United Methodist Committee on Relief or as we say, UMCOR. After Hurricane Floyd in eastern North Carolina, the devastation was immense. I remember a gathering of clergy and laity in which someone rose and said, “Where is UMCOR? What is UMCOR?” Someone rose and answered it beautifully. He said, “Look around the room. We are UMCOR.”
Indeed, that is true. Through our generosity, particularly in this Lenten offering, the One Great Hour of Sharing, we put in place the administration so that your gift will go one hundred percent to the designated place of need. Listen now to my colleague and friend Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Wisconsin area. Bishop Jung chairs the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
UMCOR is celebrating 75 years of helping those in need, which begun in 1940 when Bishop Herbert Welch initiated the effort through the General Conference to aid overseas mission partners. I read about Bishop Welch’s legacy through my own roots of Asian Methodism. Congregations in the United Methodist churches all over the world have brought hope and healing to those who desperately need it the most, through the rich tradition our One Great Hour of Sharing. Our emboldment in humanitarian aid is quite a legacy. By God’s grace, the next 75 years will see the greatest outpouring of love from our churches, so that together, our legacy of love will continue to grow.
With our rich heritage of helping the least of these, UMCOR is more focused than ever on continuing the tradition of caring and doing more to alleviate suffering. The Global Health Initiative is one priority among many, in these challenging times. We are addressing global health issues including Imagine No Malaria with a holistic approach and attention to health, nutrition, proper technology, training and sustainability.
Another major UMCOR effort is the fight against the Ebola epidemics in western Africa. Our volunteers, they are helping to save lives and prevent the spread of this deadly disease.
When our congregations give generously, they are not alone. They join hands with UMCOR and previous generations to stand against the suffering and act together to dispense hope and healing. Working together, our United Methodist connection is a powerful. One Great Hour of Sharing ensures that one hundred percent of all of our donations are received by those in need.
The call of Christ compels us, as the people of The United Methodist Church to be a voice of a conscience, to eliminate suffering around the world. As the humanitarian relief arms of The United Methodist Church, the UMCOR is often one of the first on the ground after disaster strikes. Our congregations’ generous offering to One Great Hour of Sharing enables UMCOR to keep our focus on helping those in greatest need. One Great Hour of Sharing turns God’s resources into God’s hands and feet.
As you know, Lent is the season of repentance, self-examination, and awareness of not just our own spiritual needs, but also the needs of others. When we celebrate Lent, we cultivate a greater awareness of those needs within our own souls and we also come to a greater understanding of God’s call to minister to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ’s name.
I think our own United Methodist Book of Discipline says it best, “One Great Hour of Sharing calls the church to share the Good News of life, with those who hurt.”
UMCOR, unlike some other service efforts in the United Methodist Church, does not receive any United Methodist World Service or apportionment funds. The critical relief and humanitarian efforts of UMCOR depends entirely on donors. The support of United Methodists for One Great Hour of Sharing offering covers UMCOR’s administrative costs and our congregations’ generosity makes it possible for UMCOR to use one hundred percent of all other contributions on projects that serve those in need.
We are UMCOR. Thank you. Thank you UMCOR for the ways in which we engage mission together. Thank you for generous offerings on the One Great Hour of Sharing or the Sunday of your choice during Lent.