In our highly individualized, personal and self-sufficient culture, we sometimes need powerful and impressive reminders that we are stronger together than we are apart. United Methodists proudly proclaim that we are a “connectional Church,” but often this is proclaimed at an abstract and conceptual level. While we may say we are stronger together, we often behave as if we think we need no one beyond ourselves.
But when we honestly face the immensity of the needs in our world – needs for food, shelter, education, safety and security, mercy, healing, and justice – it becomes quickly clear that individually we can accomplish very little. The recent rash of natural disasters reveals just how vulnerable and fragile we are. Facing floods, fire, earthquakes, and hurricanes cannot be addressed adequately by individuals, or even individual congregations. This is the brilliance and benefit of our connectional Church.
In this season preparing our hearts and minds for Thanksgiving, let us celebrate our strength in unity together through our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Of all our causes to celebrate, UMCOR must rank toward the top. Through unity, solidarity, sacrifice and commitment, each and every United Methodist enters into the divine synergy God produces in our Church – together we truly are greater than the sum of our parts.
I want to encourage you to go spend some time on the UMCOR website at www.UMCOR.org. I guarantee that your heart will be “strangely warmed” by the stories of grace, compassion and service.
We are in Puerto Rico, partnering short- and long-term strategy for response and recovery. There will be a need for volunteers in Puerto Rico for quite some time, and UMCOR ensures that we will be with them for the long haul.
We are present in Myanmar and Bangladesh, engaged in the migrant refugee crisis with Rohingya Muslims. As more and more minority abuses increase, UMCOR responds to provide comfort, supplies and support.
UMCOR recently approved more than $7 million in grants for hurricane and other disaster-relief work, and an additional $1.86 million was designated for global health projects. UMCOR is present in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina following the hurricanes, and in Mexico following the recent earthquake.
UMCOR continues to work in Sierra Leone following the catastrophic rains and mudslides to assist in recovery projects. Residents in the United States can hardly conceive the challenges being faced around our globe in the wake of tragic natural disasters. Unlike the United States, most parts of the planet lack infrastructure and resources to cope with cataclysmic disaster.
UMCOR continues to work world-wide to promote and support sustainable development. Wherever and whenever there is need, UMCOR responds. In this season of Thanksgiving, give special thanks to our global connectional witness, particularly the blessing that is UMCOR.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
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).