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  • Writer's picturePastor Paul Harris

First One in and Last One Out

the logo for UMCOR, United Methodist Committee on Relief

I am writing today to urge your financial support of one of our connectional ministries. I have experienced personally the impacts of natural and economic disasters as a pastor in several local UMC congregations. UMCOR stepped in with financial resources to help our local and conference disaster relief and recovery teams deal with fires, flooding, and hurricanes. They were truly the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave. UMC congregations like the ones I served as pastor and many more are empowered and supported to be community centers to re-establish hope in the midst of disaster.

In March, we celebrate an opportunity for special financial gifts to The United Methodist Church agency UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) who partners with Annual Conferences and Local Churches in the Connection of United Methodists to provide first in and last out disaster relief and recovery systems in the USA and across the world.

My first experience was with flood relief in towns along the Guadalupe River after major downstream flooding in 1998. Living in Corpus Christi, I participated with a team from our home church in construction mission work to rebuild a man's home in Victoria. UMCOR followed up on FEMA support with grants and volunteers readied with construction materials for our team of volunteers.

Living in Bastrop County in 2011 during the Complex Fires, the church I served partnered with UMCOR and the Conference Disaster Relief Team to provide a safe space for firefighters to eat and rest. Additional grant monies helped our local church reach out to families in the area impacted by the fires. Being a pastor on the ground in the midst of a disaster was so humbling. In receiving so much support that lasted well beyond the disaster event providing community support through the UMCOR supported case management and unmet needs team.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas and then bounced up the Gulf Coast causing tremendous damage. Our Annual Conference partnered with UMCOR to plan and implement disaster recovery villages in several of our conference churches. These congregations Sinton, Aransas Pass, and Victoria became long term centers for disaster relief and recovery in their areas. They hosted out of town volunteers in their church campuses and welcomed community partners into the relief work. Five years after the storm, UMCOR grant monies were still being made available to support this effort.

On March 10, the United Methodist Church celebrates the partnership with UMCOR and asks for special offerings to support the work of UMCOR. So that 100% percent of donated monies can be distributed for disaster relief and recovery, this Special Sunday offering is used to cover the administrative costs associated with partnering with conferences and churches around the world.

Please remember this opportunity and celebrate our connectional ministry UMCOR with a Special Offering during the month of March 2024.

Blessings to you Along the Way,

Pastor Paul

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