UMCOR Sunday is March 26
In the Rio Texas Conference, we have supported UMCOR for many years through One Great Hour of Sharing. This year the name has been changed to UMCOR Sunday.
The Methodist Ministry we now call UMCOR was born at the General Conference in 1940. Ministry to people hurting because of war and conflict continues to be an important part of the UMCOR ministry but it has expanded relief to those impacted by natural disaster and now includes disasters in the United States as well as those around the world. Another important change over the years has been extension of the ministry to include recovery and development, rather than simply relief from the immediate suffering from war and disaster.
Today, UMCOR operates several interrelated programs. UMCOR's Global Health program's top priorities are water and maternal and child health. In addition to these top priorities, they address malaria, HIV/AIDS, and malnutrition. UMCOR works with communities rather than simply “dumping” programs on them without their involvement.
UMCOR helps communities fix existing water infrastructure as well as help to dig new wells. Education is also important so the community can develop long-term strategies to meet their water needs. Unfortunately, water is not the only problem. In developing countries, diarrhea kills 2.2 million people each year so sanitation education and infrastructure are also important. UMCOR builds latrines and hand-washing stations so that people can live healthier lives.
During this time of war and strife, UMCOR is deeply involved in ministry to refugees. In Syria and in Africa, they are ministering to displaced people just as they did when they started their work in 1940. UMCOR works closely with Church World Service who has an extensive network of resettlement houses across the United States. They also work with local United Methodist Churches to help them become more welcoming congregations.
Of special interest today, UMCOR founded JFON in 1999 and, although it is now a separate organization, UMCOR continues to support their programs.
In the past three years, UMCOR has given $220,000 of grants for refugee programs in the Rio Texas Conference. They have made a $100,000 gift to the Austin Chapter of JFON and have awarded the Rio Texas Conference $120,000 to assist with immigration ministries related to the influx of unaccompanied minors and women and children from Central America.
UMCOR provides aid to communities all around the world following natural disasters. Whether it is a tsunami in Japan, an earth quake in China, Ebola in Africa, or Tornadoes in San Antonio, UMCOR can be counted on. In the short run, disaster response relieves human suffering while in the long run they work with community partners to build capacity and to reduce disaster risk.
Most people in the Rio Texas Conference may not know the extent to which UMCOR supports our disaster response effort. During the past eight years, UMCOR has made 21 grants through the Southwest Texas and Rio Grande Conferences totaling $612,500. This is in addition to the $220,000 to immigration programs mentioned earlier.