UMCOR / Our Work / Disaster Response / US / Training Programs

Disaster Response Training Programs

In keeping with UMCOR’s mission to provide response and recovery to people and communities when disaster strikes, we have designed training at every level—local church, district and conference—to better enable everyone to be faithful to God’s call to bring hope to those who are suffering. It is UMCOR’s belief that the ability to respond efficiently and effectively depends on the preparation of our “heart and hands.”

Working with UMCOR Can Help your Disaster Response Ministry

Schedule Contact
For more information about training opportunities contact:
Phone: 202-548-4002

Training Programs


Conference and District Training Events
Who Benefits:
Response Committee members, conference level personnel, district disaster coordinators, local church members Length: 2-3 Days  |  Schedule: See Calendar  Recommended Prerequisites:  none

Conference and District events are designed to meet the training needs of the conference. An overview of UMCOR’s disaster ministries and the separate components for a holistic response to disasters in your conference are covered. Conference Events have standard components including Disaster 101 and an overview of the following programs: disaster case management, early response teams, spiritual and emotional care, the conference disaster response plan, local church preparation, and volunteer management. Additional sessions may be tailored to address the needs of the conference and the types of disasters likely to occur. Full courses may be offered in selected categories.

Jurisdictional Training
Who Benefits: Conference Disaster coordinators, UMVIM coordinators, response committee members, DS’s and others assigned as disaster liaisons 
Length: 3 Days  |  Schedule: See Calendar   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  none

Jurisdiction trainings are designed to create unity among geographical responders as they learn together the holistic approach to disaster response. Similar to conference training, the Jurisdictional trainings cover many of the same topics as well as discussions of potential hazards specific to that jurisdiction.

Emphasis is placed on community and relationships as jurisdictions are encouraged to coordinate and help each other in times of disaster,

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Sager-Brown Academy
Who Benefits: Conference disaster committee members, conference UMVIM coordinators, cabinet members, NOMADS, emergency management personnel, UMCOR Disaster Recovery Program Personnel  
Length: 5 Days  |  Schedule: Held Annually   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  none

In the Fall of each year, UMCOR holds a Disaster Academy at the Sager-Brown Depot in Baldwin LA. Academies are a full week of in-depth study, conversation and fellowship. On alternate years, Basic and Advanced academies are offered. Contact UMCOR's training coordinator to register your interest in an academy: 202-548-4002  Email:
1. The UMCOR Basic Academy is generally held every other year. This week-long Academy offers a complete overview of the primary disaster response components for the local church member, the local church, the conference and the jurisdiction. Conference representatives are invited to fellowship, learn and discuss topics related to UMCOR disaster ministries across all phases of disaster, and in relationship to other organizations and agencies active in disaster response. Persons who will most benefit from the Basic Academy are those who have little or no previous UMCOR training.

2. On alternate years, UMCOR offers an Advanced Academy for an in-depth study of a particular area of disaster ministry. Determining who will benefit from the Advanced Academy is dependent upon the topic and the role of the participant in disaster ministry. More guidance will be provided in advance of the Academy. 

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Overview of UMCOR Programs
Who Benefits:
Everyone     |  Length: 1 ½ hours  |  Schedule:  As requested |  Recommended Prerequisites:  None.

Learn about UMCOR’s history, mission, values, humanitarian programs, and opportunities for giving and service around the globe—the heart and hands of United Methodists. The Overview is often combined with other trainings.

UMCOR Basic Disaster Ministry (Disaster 101)
Who Benefits:
Everyone     |  Length: 6 Hours  |  Schedule:  As requested See Calendar  |  Recommended Prerequisites:  None. Note: This module should be considered to be a prerequisite for many other courses.

Basic Disaster Ministry is an introduction for all people interested in the unique and important role the faith community plays in disaster readiness and response in the United States.  Participants learn about disasters, traditional responses to a disaster and how the faith-based response is different, how to prepare for a disaster, and ways to get involved after disaster strikes.  The module provides a vision of disaster response that includes emotional and spiritual care as well as physical rebuilding to assist in long-term recovery of those in need and addresses the unmet needs of all survivors, particularly people who were vulnerable before a disaster.

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Environmental Stewardship and Disaster Response
Who Benefits:    everyone |  Length: 3 Hours  |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  none

If "the earth is the Lord's," then what is the Christian's responsibility to care for God's creation? In this class, we consider ways our lives impact the earth, how we can live sustainably, and understand the severity of weather events.

Connecting Neighbors Leadership Training Program (Local Church Readiness Training)
Who Benefits:
Conference disaster committee members, others from a conference who have time and interest in helping local churches create disaster ministries   |  Length 2 days  |  Schedule: Upon request  |  Recommended Prerequisites:  UMCOR Overview; Basic Disaster Ministry (Disaster 101)

This is a Train-the-Trainer Program designed to teach conference representatives how to help local churches develop a disaster ministry.

Churches can better provide a caring Christian response to local disasters if they have prepared their church families and facility before disaster occurs. Connecting Neighbors addresses the faith community’s responsibility in disaster readiness and response and suggests tools to meet individual and community needs.

Leaders are taught how to present the Connecting Neighbors program, how to connect the church to outside resources and to the community’s emergency plans; where the church fits in and how the church can help the community at large.

Participants are given all the tools necessary to present a meaningful program to local churches and to assist the local congregation in developing a disaster ministry.

NOTE: If you are in need of a disaster ministry for your church, please contact your United Methodist Conference Office or your Conference Disaster Response Coordinator.

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Cabinet Orientation
Who Benefits: Bishop and Extended Cabinet |  Length: 3 Hours  |  Schedule: Upon request  |  Recommended Prerequisites:  None, however, this training is a prerequisite for conference events

How do the bishop and cabinet respond in event of emergency? What can UMCOR do to help? How do we do ministry in the face of a major disaster? This course is designed primarily to prepare and support the Bishop and Extended Cabinet* in their roles in disaster response and recovery. Specific emphasis is placed on the necessity of having a comprehensive disaster response plan revised and maintained within the annual conference. Additional topics include: How UMCOR supports the Conference; roles of the Conference Disaster Response Coordinator and Committee, and financial officers; and how the Conference can support local pastors.

*Extended Cabinet includes others as invited by the Bishop, which may include the Conference Treasurer, the Conference Communications personnel, the Disaster Response Coordinator, and others the Bishop deems appropriate.

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Conference Disaster Response Committee Training
Who Benefits: Conference Disaster Committee Members     |  Length: 6 Hours  |  Schedule:  Upon Request, See CalendarRecommended Prerequisites:  Conference Cabinet Orientation; Disaster Response Ministries (Disaster 101) is recommended pre-requisite and is often added to this training, making it a two-day event.

This course is recommended any time there are significant numbers of new members on the committee or as a refresher after several years of minimal activity.

The members of the Conference Disaster Response Committee are responsible for newing and implementing the Conference’s disaster response plan. This course will prepare the Committee for this important task, and also covers the roles of the Disaster Response Committee members in all phases of disaster – readiness, relief, recovery, and review. Relevant concerns will be reviewed including fiscal management, personnel, materials management, and sound policies and guidelines.

Disaster Case Management: Basic
Who Benefits:
Everyone who will be serving as disaster case managers and their supervisors |  Length: 2 Days (14 hours) |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  Basic Disaster Ministry (Disaster 101). (NOTE: This course is not offered as part of readiness training. A system for disaster case management must be in place. UMCOR funded disaster case management programs, please add an additional day of training for tools and data management.)

Disaster Case Management is a two-day, in-depth course designed to prepare caring helpers for their work in guiding survivors through to their recovery. UMCOR’s model for disaster case management is a holistic approach, which incorporates the unique perspective of the faith community with an understanding of the emotional, spiritual and physical impact of the disaster on survivors.  The course teaches how to identify and address unmet recovery needs of all survivors, particularly people who were vulnerable before a disaster. UMCOR’s Disaster Case Management Trainings are consistent with relevant standards of practice.

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Disaster Case Management: Advanced
Who Benefits: Disaster Case Management Supervisors and Program Managers; Experienced Disaster Case Managers |  Length: 7 Hours |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  Basic Disaster Ministry (Disaster 101). Disaster Case Management: Basic (NOTE: This course is not offered as part of readiness training. A system for disaster case management must be in place.)

The Advanced Disaster Case Management Course is designed as a companion course for the Basic Case Management Course. Those with Basic Training, experienced disaster case managers, and supervisors are the intended audience. Topics covered include in-depth practical applications for disaster case management processes, as well as supervision and management, and ethical dilemmas. Strategies are offered for effective outreach, triaging cases, establishing and monitoring workloads, case closure, care for the care-giver, maximizing community collaborations, and maintaining client data.

Early Response Team: Basic
Who Benefits: members of the local churches|  Length: 8 Hours Minimum |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  None

The mission of an early response team is to provide a caring presence in the aftermath of a disaster, under very specific guidelines that enable a team to be productive and caring while causing no further harm or being a burden to the affected community. Classes are taught by “authorized” UMCOR trainers, and team members are given ID badges as evidence of training. Topics covered in the class include the who, what, when, where and how of doing ministry, as well as hands on experience in the specific tasks that early responders are expected to accomplish. Recertification classes for Early Response Team Members are also available.

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Early Response Team: Train-the-Trainer
Who Benefits:
United Methodist Conferences |  Length: 16 Hours Minimum |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Required Prerequisites:  1)  the Instructor has served on an Early Response Team; 2) has completed the basic class; 3) is recommended by their conference as an ERT Trainer; and 4) passes a background check.

All Early Response Team classes are taught by UMCOR-trained and authorized instructors. This program prepares those Instructors for volunteer ERT training within their United Methodist Conference. This class has a maximum of 12 participants at a time and requires a minimum of 16 hours. Once trained, potential ERT Trainers will be evaluated in a class setting. ERT Trainers become certified after successful completion of the UMCOR ERT Trainer Evaluation.

Spiritual and Emotional Care: Care Ministry Teams
Who Benefits:    Care Team Volunteers   |  Length: varies |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  see below

Care Ministry Teams ("Care Teams are trained faith-based groups that work with their conference disaster committee to help survivors connect with emotional, spiritual and basic life resources. Care Team trainings are compliant with credentialing standards for the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

The training program includes:

Basic Care Team training (7 hours) This introductory module for United Methodist disaster response Care Team program provides training on spiritual and emotional care needs of individuals, communities and congregations following disasters, responses to those needs, strategies for disaster responders’ self-care and training on how Care Teams fit into the overall United Methodist disaster response structure.

Care Team leader training (4 hours) Provides United Methodist disaster response Care Team Leaders with tools and skills to lead Care Team members during and after deployment. UMCOR Overview and Basic Care Team Training are pre-requisites.

Advanced Congregational Care training (3 hours) Provides United Methodist disaster response Care Teams practical ideas and a packaged program to use within congregations who have experienced disaster within their communities. UMCOR Overview and Basic Care Team Training are pre-requisites.

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Spiritual and Emotional Care: Calming After the Storm, Ministry of Caring
Who Benefits:     Clergy, Spiritual Care Providers  |  Length: 4-6 hours |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  None

"Calming After the Storm" and "The Ministry of Caring" are four- and six-hour workshops that offer practical information and ideas to help people facing the unique emotional and spiritual challenges that accompany disaster.

Spiritual and Emotional Care: Care for the Care-Giver
Who Benefits:     Disaster Response Leadership, Clergy, Spiritual Care Providers, Supervisors  |  Length: 6 hours |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  None

This course provides participants with skills to recognize the signs of stress and burnout and suggestions on ways to cope with these realities.

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Volunteer Coordination: On Site Management for Early Response Teams (ERTs)
Who Benefits: those willing to manage Early Response Teams  |  Length: 6 Hours  |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  Basic Disaster Ministries (Disaster 101)

The Early Response Team On-Site Management class is a 6 hour class that includes an overview of the basic ERT and then goes into hosting/receiving ERTs. Aimed at folks who have time and can be self-sufficient, On Site Managers are expected to remain for two weeks or more at a location in order to assist the local community in receiving the immediate help. This class introduces people to the ERT system and guidelines and enables them to set up appropriately for the incoming teams. Special emphasis is placed on permission from homeowners for work to be done, coordination of teams and the tools necessary for setting up and reporting activities.

Hosting Volunteers
Who Benefits: Churches and others who provide volunteer housing and support  |  Length: 4 Hours  |  Schedule: Upon request   |  Recommended Prerequisites:  None

Volunteers play a critical role in any disaster recovery effort.  The local church and community can provide hospitality and meaningful service by hosting volunteers in disaster response and recovery efforts. Participants learn how to manage volunteers so those volunteers can contribute effectively and find great personal rewards through their work. This workshop will help prepare you for providing volunteer housing, food, transportation, recreation, and affirmation.  

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