Sam Hodges of United Methodist News traveled to New Bern to speak with Bishop Ward and attended the worship at Clarks UMC in New Bern.
United Methodist News shares the story of Jadon Olsen, son of the Rev. Billy Olsen and his wife, Elaine.
by Dail Ballard
Executive Director, Camping & Retreat Ministries
I like order. I function better when my house is in order, when my work week is organized and when my life is relatively structured. When a hurricane is predicted, and tracking begins, that order becomes muddled. And, when the hurricane is literally at my back door, that order quickly turns to chaos mixed with angst and worry.
Finding peace in the storm can be difficult. My family and I have made the decision to stay put in our home in eastern NC for hurricanes and Nor’easters since moving here in 1991. While living out those decisions, I softly whisper prayers as the rush of the rain and wind pound the windows of my home. I wince when the power flickers and feel such weight when it finally goes out for an uncertain amount of time.
Hurricane Florence came and stayed, so you can imagine the order in my life was surely challenged – for days – even after the bands of wind moved oh so slowly away. There was so much to contemplate and process from the storm relative to family and friends and personal properties and our camps. The angst of disorder prevailed.
Upon realizing that family and friends and personal property all were relatively okay in the storm’s aftermath, my focus then turned to the camps of the NC UM Conference. Camp Chestnut Ridge wasn’t really affected by this storm. Camp Rockfish was minimally affected with some trees downed, flooded docks and power outages. Camp Don Lee faced the brunt of the storm situated on the banks of the Neuse River. It was devastating to see first glimpses of the damages, and conversations began about how best to share the impact of the storm with the rest of the world.
It initially felt very vulnerable to share pictures of the destruction and debris at Camp Don Lee via Facebook. What kind of angst would this bring to the order of our constituents’ lives, many of whom were also affected by this storm? We collaborated on content and submitted our post complete with pictures revealing the devastation.
While my staff and I have been fully overwhelmed by the impact of Hurricane Florence at Camp Don Lee, we have been equally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and concern and generosity by those who have come to know the effect of the storm. We are grateful. We are humbled. And, we are reminded once again of the life-changing impact that this camp’s ministry has had on the lives of so many.
It will be a while before my life returns to the type of order I enjoy. Yet, when I think about those (many of whom I haven’t even met yet) who will help us through the chaos of this storm, I find great peace. And, I praise God for it.
To see more pictures from Camp Don Lee, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/donleecenter.
WITN-TV in Greenville recently highlighted the hurricane relief efforts at Ann Street UMC in Beaufort.
+ Financial gifts are one of the best and quickest ways to help churches and families after a disaster.
+ Churches are urged to invite offerings continually, given the scope of the disaster.
+ Churches may decide to receive donations to support needs in their community or across the conference.
+ Donations can be sent to NC Conference Disaster Response efforts online or by mail.
+ Make checks out to NC Conference, marking “NC Storm Response” in the memo line, and mail them to Conference Treasurer – Raleigh Area, P.O. Box 890202, Charlotte, NC 28289-0202.
+ Direct questions on gifts with special or unusual conditions to the Conference Treasurer’s Office at email@example.com.
+ If disaster donations are kept locally for relief, proper procedures must be in place.
+ Donations must be used following the intent of the donor and only for that purpose.
+ The local church Finance Committee or Trustees has oversight of gifts received and expended according to the local church’s gift acceptance policy. Local churches may elect to have a committee approve disaster-related expenses or may direct a person to approve them within certain guidelines.
+ A pastor’s discretionary fund for disaster response must be monitored with care, including thorough documentation to insure accountability and transparency.
+ Integrity, accountability, and transparency help build donor trust and encourage generosity.
by Steve Taylor
Executive Director, NC Conference Connectional Ministries
In every disaster, one of the questions we often receive is “Where is UMCOR?”
I understand the question and appreciate that people don’t see a similar response from UMCOR as they see from The Salvation Army or Baptist Men. The answer lies in the structure of our United Methodist connection and the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
In the United States, there are only a few people working in the U.S. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) office. Their function is to fund, train the trainers, and provide expertise and resource United Methodist conferences across the U.S. They also act as the “receptacle” for people in United Methodist churches across the nation to donate to assist those who have been affected by disaster. For example, we in the North Carolina Conference, have received $1.3 million for response and recovery operations following Hurricane Matthew. UMCOR has already responded with a $10,000 emergency grant for Hurricane Florence and we can expect to receive significant additional funding through our UMCOR channels.
UMCOR also provides training and expertise that helps us in the North Carolina Conference train people for Early Response and Neighbor-to-Neighbor training for local churches. Disasters are first responded to locally. Thus, in essence, we in our local churches are the hands and feet of UMCOR. In the North Carolina Conference, we provide continual Early Response Training (ERT) multiple times each year and provide Neighbor-to-Neighbor local congregation training at request of local congregations, clusters of congregations, and districts.
Currently, we have approximately 770 people trained in local churches for emergency response. This is training that is pertinent for actions immediately following a storm. These ERT members are responsive to and work in coordination with the District Disaster Response Coordinators (DDRC) and District Superintendents (DS). Each district has at least two Disaster Response Coordinators. As the best response to a disaster is local, we encourage the ERTs to work first in their local area and then, as it becomes safe to travel and when County Emergency Managers tell us it is safe to do so, our DDRCs will deploy small ERT teams into disaster affected areas.
At the same time, we begin sending cleaning buckets and health kits to areas that have been affected, usually working with local churches who act as staging areas. This is coordinated through the DDRC and the DS. For example, we have already distributed 1000 health kits to local shelters impacted by Hurricane Florence and 1000 cleaning buckets to some of the counties where it is safe for us to travel. We call on local volunteers to help with this effort and volunteers from districts to help coordinate. To be clear, these volunteers are us!
Thus, to the question, where is UMCOR? The answer is no further than our local church. We are UMCOR. This is why it is so incredibly important to participate in Neighbor-to-Neighbor training, ERT training, get our UMCOR green t-shirt and get out into our communities, helping where we can, praying with all who need it, and being the hands and feet of Christ.
Where is UMCOR? We are UMCOR.
If you would like to volunteer or have a team that wishes to help,
please contact our North Carolina Disaster Response Call Center:
To contact your District Disaster Response Coordinator: