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In August 2016, Edna Rajan stacks cleaning buckets from the United Methodist Committee on Relief at a United Way warehouse in Lafayette, La. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

In August 2016, Edna Rajan stacks cleaning buckets from the United Methodist Committee on Relief at a United Way warehouse in Lafayette, La.

Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Edita Tante describes her experiences as a survivor of the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines.

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New UMCOR Sunday is March 26

 

By Polly House
March-April 2017

United Methodists worldwide will celebrate "UMCOR Sunday" on March 26, the fourth Sunday of Lent. The special Sunday observance includes receiving an offering to cover administrative costs of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the denomination's humanitarian and disaster relief agency.

"UMCOR Sunday" replaces "One Great Hour of Sharing" on the denomination's calendar of special Sundays with offerings. General Conference 2016 changed the name to reflect the offering's support of UMCOR, which was founded more than 75 years ago.

"This action aligns our language with the image and reality of support for UMCOR," said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, following the name change. "UMCOR is one of the most well-known and effective ministries of our church, and I think our membership will welcome the name change for the annual day to celebrate and support this dynamic work."

A part of Global Ministries, the denomination's mission agency, UMCOR is dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the globe. Best known for its work in disaster response, UMCOR also supports programs and projects in health, sustainable agriculture, food security, relief supplies, disaster risk reduction and more.

UMCOR targets its efforts in places where natural disasters, war or conflict have done so much damage that communities are unable to recover on their own. While UMCOR is not a first-response organization, it stands ready to accompany communities in need over the long haul of their recovery, until they are well on their way to establishing a "new normal" after a crisis.

In the United States, UMCOR operates in collaboration with relief teams organized by annual conferences. Internationally, it works through partner organizations and, at times, its own in-country offices, depending on need. UMCOR currently has offices in Sudan, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti.

UMCOR's International Development Unit facilitates long-term community development and empowerment in areas of great need. UMCOR uses integrated solutions to address root causes, working alongside local communities to develop assets in water, sanitation and hygiene, sustainable agriculture and food security and nutrition.

The UMCOR Sunday offering and designated gifts are the agency's major sources of revenue for administration. One hundred percent of other gifts go to the causes for which they stipulated. UMCOR receives no money from the apportionments paid to the general church by congregations.

These gifts help UMCOR provide many critical services, such as:

  • Travel and lodging expenses when disaster response personnel visit disaster sites for assessments, training, support or follow-up.
  • Material resources for volunteer programs at UMCOR Sager Brown and UMCOR West, depots where supplies are stored before being shipped to disaster sites.
  • Production of the UMCOR website, hotline and church resources.
  • Travel to training programs or to share UMCOR's work with annual conferences and congregations.
  • UMCOR participation in ecumenical and international conferences and meetings of mutual support in disaster response, global health and development.

Any funds received on UMCOR Sunday above those needed for operating expenses are channeled to under-funded programs where they are most needed. They also allow UMCOR to respond to disasters immediately after an event and before other funds are raised.

Polly House is a freelance editor and writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. She currently serves as editorial assistant for Interpreter.