Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

I greet you in the name and spirit of our God who comforts and restores.

The scenes of devastation along the Gulf coast that we have witnessed over the last week are just a glimpse of the human suffering, loss of life, devastation of property and the desolation of lives and spirits that are occurring in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The losses caused by this storm stir our hearts and call us to prayer and action for family and friends, neighbors, and strangers alike. We are reminded that when one of the human family suffers, we all suffer.

I call us to be the courageous church: loving like Jesus, acting for justice, united in hope boldly responding to the needs of our sisters and brothers wherever the path of Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc. United Methodists have always responded generously and compassionately whenever disasters such as this have occurred. Our Desert Southwest Conference joins the efforts of many others across the world in response to this disaster. To learn more, please visit www.dscumc.org/hurricane-harvey-response. There are many ways you can participate. Here are a few.

+ Give generously. Individual gifts, as well as special offerings at your church, will go to support the extraordinary efforts of our Desert Southwest Early Response Teams (ERT) with supplies and scholarships to help volunteers travel to the affected areas. A Conference-wide appeal has been approved by our Conference Council on Finance and Administration. To contribute to this ERT asking online, please go to www.dscumc.org/hurricane-harvey-response and click on the ERT Supplies & Scholarships button. To contribute by mail, send your check payable to the Desert Southwest Conference, 1550 E Meadowbrook Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85014, and indicate “floods” in the memo line. In addition, our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is already responding. Links to contribute online to Advance #901670 for general (quickest use in domestic incidences) and Advance #901440 for material resources are also available at www.dscumc.org/hurricane-harvey-response. These codes streamline the funding system for UMCOR on their website.

+ Volunteer to help bring healing. At this time, the Rio Texas Conference is prepared to receive certified Early Response Teams (ERTs) or certified individuals to assist in recovery from Hurricane Harvey and its attendant flooding. If you are already a currently certified ERT and are interested in going right now, contact our Disaster Relief Chairperson, Rev. Fred Heggestad, at fheggestad@msn.com and then go to the Rio Texas Conference website https://riotexas.org/harvey and register to assist online.

+ Serve lovingly. Polly Turner will be scheduling and coordinating Early Response Team trips every week beginning September 21st. Contact Polly at polly@ix.netcom.com if you or your church want to schedule a trip. All trips should be coordinated either through Fred or Polly because of the Conference to Conference relationships involved. The following training registration links are accessed by clicking on the NOW: Get Trained as an Early Response Team (ERT) & Volunteer button at www.dscumc.org/hurricane-harvey-response.

+ Receive certification: If you have not yet been certified, training will be offered in our Conference as follows:

  • Saturday, September 9th, 8-5 PM, Red Mountain UMC, Mesa AZ
  • Tuesday, September 12th, 8-5 PM, DSC Conference Center Galvan Room, Phoenix AZ
  • Saturday, September 16th, 8-5 PM, Green Valley UMC, Henderson NV
  • Saturday, September 23rd, 8-5 PM, Catalina UMC, Tucson AZ
  • Saturday, September 30th, 8-5 PM, Lakeview UMC, Sun City AZ

+ Renew certification: If you need to renew your certification, training will be offered in our Conference as follows:

  • Friday, September 15th, 6-9 PM, Green Valley UMC, Henderson NV
  • Sunday, October 1st, 2-5, PM, St. Matthew UMC, Mesa AZ

+ You can do this! The demand for hygiene and cleaning kits is ongoing and information about assembling and sending these supplies can be found by click on the Make & Ship Relief Kits to UMCOR button at www.dscumc.org/hurricane-harvey-response.

+ Share your story. Others may benefit from your experience. Tell us the story about how your church is responding by clicking on the button titled, Unite with Hope at www.dscumc.org/hurricane-harvey-response.

In Song of Songs 8:7 we receive these words reminding us of the power of love over the storms that rage and encouraging our faithful response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey:

“Flood waters can’t drown love, torrents of rain can’t put it out.” (The Message).

As the hands and feet of Christ let us offer comfort and aid in the name and in the love of Jesus.


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Author: Bishop Hoshibata

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