Caring for All People

While I grew up in the United Methodist Church, I made the conscious decision as an adult to remain United Methodist. The denomination has its weaknesses for sure—the US church is mostly white, mostly older and mostly affluent. We have gotten it wrong so many times in the past, from our split over slavery to our decades-long angst over LGBTQ inclusion to our near-silence on environmental issues to our treatment of Native Americans.

I chose to stay United because of what we did well. We were established as a church that believes in personal holiness: There was a push for westward expansion in such a way that in the Midwest there was a church begun at every stagecoach stop and revivals in the Americas were huge for sharing the gospel with the world. We are a church that believes in social holiness: Methodists began Sunday schools to teach children who worked in factories and weren’t allowed to go to school during the week. Some historians believe the Methodists in England were what kept the nation from descending into the revolts and revolutions of France. (I watch Les Miserables and think they should have had a John Wesley!) We established hospitals and universities and made a positive impact in the world over the last decades.

Today, I choose to remain United Methodist because I believe in what we continue to do well. One of those things is UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief. UMCOR is the disaster relief branch of our missions agency, committed to working with agencies already in communities. It is one of the first agencies on the ground, and it’s almost always the last agency to leave after a disaster. Its motto is “early in and last out,” and I’ve seen that at work. After Hurricane Andrew, there was an UMCOR presence in Homestead, Fla., for at least three years. That’s commitment not to the immediate clean-up efforts, but to rebuilding efforts as well.

Today, UMCOR continues to be respected and welcomed into regions all around the world following disasters. All overhead costs are paid through church special offerings once a year, meaning every dime that is given to a cause is used for that cause. We are currently responding to the crisis with Afghan refugees, with efforts related to Hurricane Ida, and to wildfire relief.

When the news is filled with headlines that overwhelm, we can know that we can do something by giving to UMCOR. I’m not ready to welcome an Afghan family into my home to stay, but I can give to help others do that. I can’t go to New York or Louisiana to help with hurricane cleanup, but I can give so others can. I can’t help with wildfires in California, but I can give so someone else can. The day will come when I can give my time to efforts, but in the meantime, I can give financially.

If you feel led to make a difference in any of these places, I encourage you to check out these websites for more information. You can also give by giving to the church, designating your check to UMCOR. If you’re not able to give, please give your prayers. Pray for our missionaries who give their lives to this work. Pray for the response teams who drop everything to go help. Pray for the victims who need a smile and a gift of love offered in Jesus’ name. Pray for our world.

I’m proud to be United Methodist in times like this. Together, we can change the world, by putting our faith into action.

UMCOR United States Disaster Response

UMCOR in Afghanistan

See you soon.
Pastor Lynn

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