A Pastoral Letter About Hurricane Charley From Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker (Aug. 17, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

A Pastoral Letter About Hurricane Charley
From Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker

Aug. 17, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0141}

An e-Review Feature
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

Dear United Methodists in Florida:

All of us have been awed by the sublime power of nature as we witnessed Hurricane Charley cross our state leaving a swath of destruction from Punta Gorda to Daytona Beach. We grieve for those who have lost their lives and those whose lives have been overturned by the destructive power of this storm.

In the midst of this catastrophe we are also awed by the power of love as people offer their prayers and help to their neighbors. As Christians we give thanks to the living God who pours God's love into our hearts to enable us to act as neighbors to those in need.

Since the hurricane struck our communities the leaders of the Florida Conference have been addressing the many needs that exist. Let me share with you our plans.

First, we are planning a ministry to the people in our communities who face the spiritual, physical and financial stress of rebuilding their homes and lives. The United Methodist Church has a vital ministry to perform in conjunction with government, other Christian churches, and organizations to giving assistance to people in a disaster. An assessment of our particular role is being made under the guidance of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). We anticipate playing a significant role in doing case management through helping individuals and families find the resources they need to rebuild their homes and lives.

In order to fulfill our ministry to people in our communities we are receiving a special offering called "Florida Storm Recovery Fund" Conference Special # 605. Contributions should be sent to your local church. Church offerings should be sent to the Florida Conference Treasurer, The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 3767, Lakeland, FL 33802.

It is our hope that the "Florida Storm Recovery Fund" will provide much of the money that will be needed to assist people in our communities. UMCOR will assist this effort by making additional funds available from its general appeal known as "Hurricanes 2004," Advance # 982410. We request that individuals and congregations in Florida contribute to the "Florida Storm Recovery Fund."

Primarily these funds will be used to make financial grants to individuals and families, to pay for supplies and equipment needed in both the immediate relief and longterm recovery, and for a staff to operate the effort.

Volunteers will also be needed, especially in the weeks and months to come when the attention of the national media has been diverted elsewhere. In order to participate, please call 1-800-282-8011.

In this enormous task of showing love of God in Jesus Christ in action, I am grateful for the leadership of both the Rev. Tom Norton and Rev. David Harris of the Conference Disaster Response Team, the Rev. David Beers of UMVIM, Dr. Anne Burkholder, the Rev. Larry Rankin, representatives of UMCOR, including Mr. Tom Hazelwood, Ms. Nina Martin, Dr. Gordon Knuckey and Mr. Larry Powell, the District Superintendents and District Disaster Coordinators and others.

Second, we are also concerned about the stress experienced by congregations and clergy and their families. Efforts are beginning to provide pastoral care for those who are facing the trauma of the disruption of their lives. For example, the ministry of Shade and Fresh Water will be made available to clergy and their families.

Third, we are concerned about the repair of United Methodist church buildings and parsonages. The resources for repair of our buildings exist in the insurance program of the Florida Conference. Reports of damage and claims for insurance should be made by calling our property adjusters at 1-800-779-4259. The Risk Management Department under Mr. Severance is working with CJW and Associates to make sure that there is a prompt response to the needs of the local congregations.

Thank you for your continuing intercession and assistance to all of our fellow citizens who are in need.

Yours in Christ,

Timothy W. Whitaker


This feature relates to Florida Conference Disaster Response.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Conference.

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