UMCOR / News Room / Hotline News Update / Archives 2009
  • December 29, 2009

The UMCOR Hotline

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

UMCOR marks its 70th birthday in 2010. The anniversary is a milestone in a history of hope that has provided relief and other assistance to millions of people around the world. UMCOR will continue in the future to do God’s compassionate work through the generosity of United Methodists and their friends.

This special UMCOR Hotline highlights some of UMCOR’s 70 years of hope. The celebratory timeline demonstrates the principles of Micah 6:8: justice, mercy, and humility.

UMCOR is grateful to all of its supporters. Thank you for your faithful participation, for exemplifying stewardship in all things. UMCOR strives to be faithful to Jesus Christ, who sends the church to those in need, and to those who give to this work. May you be blessed as we enter another new year, and may the months ahead be bright with the hope of faith in Christ.

Some of the following excerpts are from Love in Action, UMCOR: Fifty Years of Service, by Norma Kehrberg, published by Abingdon Press.

1940 – 1950

April 1940: The 1940 General Conference of The Methodist Church responds to an appeal made by Bishop Herbert Welch to create an agency that will act as a “voice of conscience among Methodists to act in relief of human suffering without distinction of race, color, ore creed.”

June 2, 1940: Methodist Committee on Relief (MCOR) is formed -- A day of prayer, fasting and self-denial. $30,000 is sent to China to assist refugees and the repatriation of missionaries who suffered from the deprivations of World War II.

1946 to 1949: MCOR supplies over one million meals to churches in India and Pakistan.


In this decade, a focus on rehabilitation becomes an important part of the ministry, helping individuals obtain skills for self sufficiency. MCOR distributes $80,000 per year into refugee assistance programs. It helps more than 200,000 refugees resettle in US, Canada, Australia and Latin America and resettles 5,000 Chinese refugees and constructs homes for fishing villages in Hong Kong.

1952: Dr. Gaither P. Warfield becomes full-time director of MCOR.


MCOR addresses the root cause of hunger and poverty and works with communities in need to achieve self-sustaining livelihood opportunities. Toward the end of the sixties, development becomes a focus to help people help themselves by providing access to water and electricity.

1964: Bishop Ralph Taylor Alton serves as MCOR’s chairman from 1964-1972.

1966: Dr. J. Harry Haines is elected to succeed Dr. Warfield as MCOR’s Director.

1968: At the 1968 General Conference, MCOR becomes United Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief (UMCOR).

1969: Bishop Herbert Welch, founder of MCOR, dies at the age of 106.

1970 - 1980

UMCOR works in 62 countries on five continents, including the US. UMCOR relief operations span 39 African countries; in a five-year period, UMCOR’s involvement increased from $300,000 to two million dollars.

1970: Annual Conference Disaster Response System is created, involving United Methodist volunteers at the local level with FEMA, the Red Cross and UMCOR.

1972: UMCOR becomes an institutionalized unit of the United Methodist Church as part of the newly structured General Board of Global Ministries. The work of UMCOR comprises four “R’s” —relief, rehabilitation, resettlement, and renewal.

1979: The US opens its doors to thousands of Vietnamese refugees fleeing Cambodia. Local United Methodist Churches respond with offers of sponsorship and UMCOR resettles more refugees than ever before. UMCOR resettles 2,500 Indochinese refugees; 260 United Methodist churches sign up to sponsor families arriving in the US.


In its first 50 years, United Methodists donate more than 200 million dollars to UMCOR and 50,000 refugees receive resettlement assistance in the US.

1983: More than 1,200 United Methodists serve as UMCOR volunteers in Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and other Caribbean countries.

1984: Ethiopian famine reaches acute proportions. UMCOR requests a Bishop’s Appeal for Africa to bring relief to Ethiopia and 25 other African nations affected by drought.

1984: Norma Kehrberg joined UMCOR as Associate General Secretary

1985: An earthquake strikes Mexico City. Through gifts contributed by United Methodists to the Methodist Church of Mexico, lives are restored through reconstruction of homes.

1988- Bishop C.P. Minnick Jr. chairs UMCOR from 1988-1992.


1992: The Rev. Ken Lutgen, Jr. serves as executive director for UMCOR until 1997.

1993: In response to the crisis in Bosnia, UMCOR establishes its first non-governmental office (NGO). For ten years, UMCOR provided emergency relief during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and transitional development assistance following the Dayton Peace Accords. NGO field offices allow UMCOR to develop long term projects in partnerships with local communities.

1994: UMCOR Sager Brown becomes a destination for volunteers who want to engage in kit ministry, assembling relief supplies like cleaning buckets to areas in need.

1994: Yerevin, Armenia office opens and focuses on distributing pharmaceuticals to health institutions and clinics.

1996: UMCOR provides funding for immigration projects including Just Neighbors founded in Arlington, Virginia by several pastors and attorneys of the United Methodist Church.

1996: Liberia office opens its doors following a seven-year civil war.

1996: Azerbaijan office opens in 1996 to help internally displaced, institutionalized, asylum seekers and refugees.

1998: Paul Dirdak leads UMCOR as Deputy General Secretary until 2007.

1999: UMCOR establishes Justice for Our Neighbors in 1999 as the official United Methodist immigration program, based on the Just Neighbors ministry model.


2001: Love in the Midst of Tragedy fund is developed in response to the events of September 11, supporting churches in New York, New Jersey and Virginia and the New York Annual Conference to provide counseling and listening centers for the bereaved.

2002: UMCOR opens an office in the southeastern province of Katanga Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to provide agriculture, micro-finance and girls' education.

2002: Kabul, Afghanistan office opens to help the people of Afghanistan recover from decades of conflict and years of drought.

2003: Education for Development and Democracy Initiative (EDDI) Girls Scholarship Program begins in the Katanga Province for 1,500 girls in 38 schools in Lubumbashi, Kasumbalesa and Pweto.

2004: The General Conference establishes a Global AIDS Fund with a challenge to raise $8 million – representing a gift of $1 from each United Methodist in the US.

2004: Multiple hurricanes devastate regions of the US, Haiti and Grenada. UMCOR provides long-term recovery programs.

2004: Indonesia and Sri Lanka offices open in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquake. More than $32 million was raised from December 2004 – March 2005 in support of UMCOR’s response to the emergency.

2004: UMCOR opens an office in Tirana, Albania to implement agricultural development initiatives, funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to equip farmers to revive the sunflower growing industry.

2005: Hurricane Katrina makes landfall along the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. The storm and its aftermath devastate cities and towns. Less than a month later, Hurricane Rita causes further damage to Western Louisiana and Eastern Texas. UMCOR manages a $66 million grant from FEMA that allow UMCOR to organize Katrina Aid Today, a consortium of case management organizations helping survivors of the 2005 hurricanes. At its peak, the consortium has 138 offices in 34 states.

2005: Sudan office opens after assessment teams determine that UMCOR's experience could add to the humanitarian effort to alleviate suffering in South Darfur. Initial programs focus on providing essential non-food items to displaced people living in camps.

2006: UMCOR awards $5 million in grants for Katrina recovery to benefit and additional 6,600 families. UMCOR directors approve $52 million for hurricane recovery. UMCOR directors approve $7.6 million for development programs in Pakistan, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

2007: The Rev. Sam Dixon becomes UMCOR’s Deputy General Secretary.

2007: Two years after Hurricane Katrina, nearly 60,000 individuals receive United Methodist assistance during long-term recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast. UMCOR Sager Brown, UMCOR’s relief supply depot in Baldwin, La., plays an active role in the responses, shipping an estimated $7.6 million of in-kind donations during emergency and relief phases. Katrina Aid Today delivers nearly $50 million in services to over 130,000 individuals.

2007: UMCOR and Muslim Aid, one of Britain's most influential Muslim charities announce a landmark partnership to relieve the suffering of millions of people across the globe.

2008: UMCOR establishes a presence in the Gulf Coast through an office in Mobile, Alabama, a state prone to hurricanes and tornadoes.

2008: UMCOR distributes one million treated mosquito nets to at-risk communities in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, with multiple partners including the United Methodist Church of Côte d'Ivoire, the Texas Annual Conference, the United Nations Foundation, the Côte d'Ivoire Ministry of Health, and United Methodist Communications. The nets are provided by the UN Foundation's Nothing But Nets Campaign.

2009: UMCOR Philippines opens its doors and facilitates communication between United Methodist Conferences within the US and the Philippines. UMCOR trains superintendents, disaster response coordinators and bishops in disaster response planning.

2009: UMCOR’s Western Jurisdiction Office and Depot in Salt Lake City opens and serves as a material resources depot to assemble, store and ship UMCOR supply kits.

2010: UMCOR responds to a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 230,000, injured another 300,000, and left more than a million homeless. Among the dead were UMCOR Director Rev. Samuel Dixon, Jr., and the director of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Rev. Clinton Rabb. By the end of May, concerned United Methodists and other people of goodwill had sent more than $33 million in aid; 700,000 health and other survivor kits; and volunteers to help in the relief and recovery work.

2010: Rev. Cynthia Fierro Harvey assumes the role of Deputy General Secretary of UMCOR.

2010: UMCOR Celebrates 70 Years of Hope

In 1940, Bishop Herbert Welch issued a challenge to establish a “voice of conscience among Methodists to act in the relief of human suffering without distinction of race, color, or creed.” For 70 years, United Methodists have responded to that challenge, spreading hope to God’s most vulnerable people, through UMCOR.

United Methodists continue to be the hands and feet of Christ by welcoming the stranger, promoting global health, rebuilding homes and lives affected by civil and natural disasters, and assembling school kits and other material resources for people around the world.

UMCOR’s mission, following Christ's mandate, is to alleviate human suffering with open hearts to all people. To make a gift in celebration of UMCOR’s 70th Anniversary and help meet the most urgent needs around the world support UMCOR Advance #999895. Online Giving

UMCOR provides emergency relief in many areas of the world. To find out more about UMCOR's ministries, please visit You can donate to any project by placing a contribution in the offering plate at a local United Methodist church; by sending a check to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068; or by calling 1-800-554-8583, where credit card donations are accepted. You can also give online by clicking on any of the "Give Now" links. UMCOR is exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and qualifies for the maximum charitable contribution deduction by donors.

And, please pray for those who are hungry, displaced, sick or in poverty because of these and other natural and human-made disasters, and for the workers who minister to them.

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