Special offerings for Disaster Victims

Gathering offerings for the disaster-struck survivors of Asia’s deadly earthquake-tsunami has sparked “ingenuity” within members of the United Methodist Church, according to the denomination’s news service, and has brought members of congregations, conferences and communities together in great ways.

The United Methodist Church (UMC), the second largest protestant denomination in the US with over 8 million members, began rallying support for the hard-hit victims of the earthquake tsunami since Dec. 27. The petitions came in the form of television appearances, radio broadcasts, internet forms and personal appeals from bishops and pastors.

Some churches went beyond the local media outlets to gather the much needed funds. One such example was the Rev. Dann Houghton, pastor of two small churches in Oregon. Houghton, according to the United Methodist News Service (UMNS), decided to hold a “Tsunami Sing” before the Jan 2 Sunday Service, during which congregants will give donations after singing requested hymns.

“For a donation to the relief fund, we sang requested hymns,” Houghton said.

He wasn’t expecting the response that followed. “I was flabbergasted!” Members would enthusiastically call out hymns, and everyone would join in singing, he continued.

Both his congregations were small with less than 40 members. However, Houghton collected nearly $400 in donations earmarked directly for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) efforts in Asia.

Houghton said he will do the “Tsunami Sing” again next year.

Meanwhile, in Memphis, a graphic artist began to “think visually” about relief efforts to Asia. Following a prayer and a night’s rest, he woke up with a plan to design T-shirt logos on T-shirts colored “urgent red.”

Collins Dillards explained that his children wore the shirts during Sunday’s church service at Scenic Hills United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tenn, and passed out bulletin inserts from UMCOR that requested donations.

“What is key to success is the fact that UMCOR has made information so accessible, and 100 percent of what they collect goes directly to the need,” Dillard said, to UMNS. “That’s why I think there is strength in giving through UMCOR.”

To download the logo, visit: http://umns.umc.org.

Donations to UMCOR's “South Asia Emergency” relief efforts can be placed in local church offering plates or sent directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Designate checks for UMCOR Advance #274305 and “South Asia Emergency.” Online donations can be made by going to www.methodistrelief.org. Those making credit-card donations can call (800) 554-8583.