UMCOR Philippines Prepares to Officially Open
* By Melissa Hinnen
July 16, 2009—The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) announced the opening of its newest office – UMCOR Philippines. Based on the campus of Union Theological Seminary in Cavite, about 50 miles south of Manila, the office will provide a ministry of presence while serving as a hub to facilitate communication between United Methodist conferences within the Philippines and with the US. In addition to establishing a field presence, UMCOR Philippines offers an on-site storage facility for material goods and relief supplies.
According to the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR’s top executive, “the office will further the work of Global Ministries through the Global Health Initiative, the initiative for Ministry with the Poor and Disaster Relief and Development.” He continued, “The local response has been wonderful. Material resources have been donated by the community and we have numerous volunteers interested in engaging in disaster response in the region.”
Disaster Response Training and Grand Opening Celebration
The Philippines is vulnerable to approximately twenty typhoons each year. In addition to the effects of natural disasters, the needs of many people are often complicated by civil conflict or extreme poverty. As it does in the US, UMCOR Philippines plays a key role in effectively responding to natural and civil disasters.
From July 21-24, representatives from all three Episcopal areas – Baguio, Davao, and Manila are attending the conference wide training. Bishops, superintendents, disaster response coordinators, and certain members of partner organizations will be trained to prepare and implement appropriate responses in the emergency, relief and recovery phases of a disaster. More than 100 people are expected to attend the four day event which includes a grand opening ceremony on Friday, July 24. Guests, including media, are invited to attend the celebration from 9a.m. to 2 p.m.
Melissa Crutchfield, head of UMCOR’s International Disaster Response and Lisa Jackson, head of special projects, are leading the training. Says Crutchfield, “It is important to equip people with tools and a network of responders to effectively offer relief in times of emergency” She continues, “while we can’t always prevent a disaster, we can prepare and empower people to minimize the damage and make a strong recovery.”
The new office in the Philippines was originally an agreement made by Randy Day, the General Board of Global Ministries’ former general secretary. Dixon and Bishop Felton E. May, Global Ministries’ former interim general secretary, met with the Filipino bishops in November 2007 to affirm their commitment to establish a regional office in the Philippines. UMCOR Directors unanimously approved this extension of UMCOR’s work in March 2008, noting the opportunity for the organization to work more closely with existing partners and to establish new ones. A group from Global Ministries visited the Philippines Central Conference November 2008 session and announced that UMCOR Philippines would open this summer.
How to Help
To volunteer with UMCOR Philippines, please contact Ciony Eduarte, Office Manager, at CEduarte@umcor.org. Support for the new office can be made through Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance #240235.
*Melissa Hinnen is the staff writer for UMCOR communications