Beloved Wisconsin United Methodist Community,
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey at 4:17 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, the most powerful earthquake recorded since 1939. In the hours that followed, at least 78 aftershocks were reported, followed by a second earthquake of 7.5 magnitude. More than 5,000 people were killed, with deaths expected to rise.
The earthquake also heavily impacted northwest Syria, where 4.1 million people depend on humanitarian assistance. The majority are women and children. At this time, Syrian communities are simultaneously facing an ongoing cholera outbreak and extreme winter weather events, including heavy rain and snow. The humanitarian response is overstretched due to the devastation and cold weather.
UMCOR has released an initial solidarity grant to a longstanding humanitarian partner, International Blue Crescent (IBC), which has offices in Turkey. The grant will provide tents, heaters, blankets, warm clothes, ready to eat meals and basic first aid kits. Please donate to support UMCOR’s response. You can donate online by clicking here: UMCOR Donate. You may also donate to your local church with the notation of UMCOR International Disaster Relief.
We offer our prayers and love to the people of Turkey and Syria as they search for loved ones, care for survivor’s, bury the deceased, and mourn all that they have lost. Let us offer this prayer:
Great God of Comfort,
As we watch from a distance the crumbling of buildings and lives in Syria and Turkey, we pray what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 10: Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely, you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed. We pray that you will bring hope and comfort to the people who are facing tremendous loss – loved ones, homes, stability, security. Lord inspire and empower Your People to seize this moment to share extravagant love through our acts of comfort, generosity, care and hope. Lord, help us to not turn away, but to be your hands and feet to love those who are suffering and bear witness to your presence with them. Amen.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).