Model Recovery Plan Proposed in Chile
By Linda Unger
Santiago, Chile, April 5, 2010--After a week of touring disaster sites in Chile, executives of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) will work out a "model" recovery plan with the Methodist Church of Chile.
A broad outline of the plan was discussed in a meeting Holy Saturday in Santiago after the executives, Rev. Tom Hazelwood for UMCOR and Dakin Cook for GBGM's Mission Relationships office, traveled with Chile Bishop Mario Martinez Tapia to towns and villages most severely affected by the February 27 earthquake and tsunamis.
The plan hinges on the development of covenant relationships between Annual Conferences and churches in the US with individual congregations in Chile and would be coordinated jointly by UMCOR, Mission Relationships, Volunteers in Mission and the Methodist Church of Chile (IMECH).
"Our response here can serve as a model for responding to disasters in other areas," said Hazelwood. While financial support from concerned United Methodists is critical, under this plan, US congregations "would not see themselves as donors only but as engaged in ministry."
The ongoing relationship would provide an opportunity for United Methodists in the US "not only to contribute money but also to learn from our sisters and brothers of Chile," Hazelwood added.
Bishop Martinez noted that IMECH already has been using the model of covenant relationships in its internal response to survivors of the earthquake and tsunamis which killed more than 500 people and damaged or destroyed millions of homes, public buildings and churches, including numerous Methodist temples.
Cook said that there is a great need to establish a model of covenant relationship between US churches and Annual Conferences with IMECH, but "it will be challenging at this time given the great need in Haiti," which suffered a devastating earthquake January 12.
He was encouraged by the prospects not only of the covenant relationship model but, also, of the integrated approach by the three GBGM offices. "Mission happens within relationship, and this offers a good example of how we should carry out mission in the world," he said.
In the case of Chile, Cook continued, "responding to an initial request from our partner IMECH, evaluating the need together and formulating the plan of action based on what GBGM and IMECH as partners can offer has and will be key to fulfilling our role in mission in the context of the Kingdom of God."
In addition to the plan to establish sister relationships, UMCOR will directly support the Chilean church's humanitarian response team, EMAH, with advanced disaster training and mentoring.
UMCOR's disaster response training in Chile last October was "key" to EMAH's ability to respond from the start of the emergency in February, said Juan Salazar, EMAH coordinator.