New Points of Hope
December 1, 2008—After months of research, anticipation and community support, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has finalized plans to establish a material supply depot in the western part of the United States.
Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive, announced today that a lease has been signed on warehouse space where the depot will be developed in Salt Lake City, Utah. The facility is scheduled to open on January 1.
The proposal to open a UMCOR center in the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church was approved by the UMCOR board of directors in March. The initial idea was to locate it San Diego or Denver. According to Global Ministries executive, Rachel Lieder Simeon, as they explored different regions, Salt Lake City soon emerged as the most logical place. The city is central within the jurisdiction and there is an international airport as well as a hub for cargo trains.
The depot will operate as a satellite of UMCOR Sager Brown in Baldwin, LA. Sager Brown executive, Kathy Kraiza will oversee the two person Utah staff. Interviews for the program director position are being scheduled for early December. Those interested in the position may view the criteria here.
Increased Opportunity for Mission
The material resources depot will serve as a warehouse to store UMCOR supply kits. When a major disaster affects a community in the US or another country, cases of supplies are sent to those in need. The new depot will help reduce shipping costs and efficiency when the affected areas are in the western part of the US or in Asia.
The facility will provide new opportunities for kit ministry at churches in the Western Jurisdiction. Dixon says some of the contents might change to reflect the needs of the types of disasters that affect the region. For example, instead of flood buckets, the depot may stock resources to help following a blizzard, earthquake or wildfire.
In addition to providing a new avenue for material distribution and serving as a field office and training center for disaster response, the location will establish a new point of communication for UMCOR which could be particularly important should a disaster strike on the east coast. Dixon recalls the 2003 Northeast blackout and its effect on the New York City office, "It took nearly a week to be fully functional again. Having a regional office in the west allows us to have improved communication and because of the time difference, gives us extended coverage for business hours."
According to UMCOR executive Lisa Jackson, The United Methodist community has expressed notable excitement that there will be a visible UMCOR presence in the city. United Methodists, who are a minority denomination in Salt Lake City, are active disciples in their communities and looking forward to this new opportunity to serve. In addition, Crossroads, an ecumenical organization in an adjacent space, is welcoming its new neighbor. The two organizations are looking at ways to collaborate in serving the needs of the poor in Utah. Jackson says they will also work together to share resources.Crossroads and UMCOR Sager Brown are part of the network of national mission institutions.
While Sager Brown has served as the primary storage site for UMCOR supplies, the relief agency also collaborates with material centers related to annual (regional) conferences of the denomination. These facilities both supply resources in times of disaster and receive supplies from UMCOR.
About UMCOR's Relief Supplies Ministry
UMCOR Supply Kits help to care for the most vulnerable people during times of crisis. They also help to sustain everyday life by providing basic necessities to people who lack ready access to essential supplies. These kits provide vital support for the work UMCOR does throughout the world. By donating kit supplies or financial gifts to purchase the supplies, you make a direct, tangible difference in sustaining people's lives. Detailed information about assembling kits can be found here.