As you are now aware, Oklahoma has been hit very hard by tornadoes. We are awaiting word on what we can do as an Annual Conference. Please be patient.
For now we are in need of Cleaning Buckets and Health Kits to be sent out as soon as the request is made from the Oklahoma Annual Conference. Cleaning Buckets and Health Kits, or donations for them, need to be sent to our Disaster Response Warehouse in Decatur. The Disaster Warehouse is located at 3220 Hwy 31 South, Building F, Decatur, AL 35603 and the phone number is (256) 341-9961. Volunteers are also needed at the Warehouse to help prepare for future shipments. Please call ahead before going to the Warehouse.
Donations may also be sent to UMCOR Fund Number 901670 - which supports UMCOR's response to disasters within the United States. You may also visit the Oklahoma Annual Conference website at www.okumc.org and there is a link for direct donations for the Oklahoma Conference Response to this disaster.
Remember the victims in your prayers as well as all of the responders.
In His Grace,
North Alabama Annual Conference Disaster Response Director
Plans have been underway for many months, to have the best Conference ever. The Conference is expanded by a half day with the Opening being on Sunday afternoon and lasting until close of day on Tuesday with the fixing of Appointments.
We are blessed in North Alabama with beautiful Camp Sumatanga. Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12 has been designated as Sumatanga Sunday. We will have an opportunity on this day in our local churches to give back to the camp that means so much to many of us.
The West, Texas disaster is among many in the news this week. The UMC church in West, Texas has been directly affected by the fertilizer plant explosion, and surrounding churches are opening their doors to serve in cooperation with emergency management.
See the press release http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Resources/News-Stories/2013/April/0418-UMCOR-Responds-to-Texas-Emergency and the Central Texas Conference web site. http://www.ctcumc.org
The Central Texas Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, Rev. Laraine Waughtal, has been actively responding since the outset, and she has requested our assistance in reminding everyone of the following:
1) Phone calls to the Conference office and to the local churches in the affected area with offers of help and expressions of concern can overwhelm critical communications. Please refer callers to the Conference web site for information about disaster response, or to the UMCOR Call Center 1-800-554-8583.
2) Please do not deploy Early Response Teams, Care Teams, or other volunteers to the disaster affected Conference unless invited by Conference personnel.
3) Redirect volunteer energies into building kits (especially clean up kits and health kits), fundraising, and local training and readiness activities. For example, churches can develop or revise disaster readiness and response plans, or host a Connecting Neighbors program for the local church, district or conference.
4) Churches should have current rosters and be prepared to share their roster with emergency management in an event wherein people are unaccounted for.
5) Churches should have a mechanism for accounting for church members and affiliates following a disaster.
Larraine will keep us posted primarily via the conference web site. In the meantime, she has expressed appreciation for your prayers, and she is comforted knowing that many of you understand the demands of these early days and will help manage the expectations of the volunteers and others seeking to help and express care.
As I draft this, many other Conferences are preparing for or responding to recent flooding, tornadoes, and human-caused disasters. It is good to know the United Methodist Church is present and prepared to offer hope and healing.
Thank you, and keep in touch.
Catherine G. Earl, MSW
Disaster Response US, Latin America, Caribbean
United Methodist Committee on Relief
Today, April 16, 2013, is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail.''
Yesterday evening the Appointive Cabinet finalized full-time appointments for the 2013-2014 Conference year. Of course, there is always the possibility of an unexpected appointment matter that requires our attention. But for now, we have finished the assignment portion of our appointment-making process.
About seven or eight years ago I volunteered to do a retiree newsletter. I really enjoy this type of work. I was on the Board of Communication when it was a joint board with Alabama/West Florida and continued through the transition to a North Alabama only board, from the Advocate newspaper to the Voice magazine, and ultimately to the web based Voice. I think it is great to have the means of “getting the word out in a timely manner.”
I know that everyone does not have access to a computer, and I know that there are those who advocate a paper newsletter mailed to you on occasion, but I also know “first hand” that there can be no newsletter without news of interest to those who receive it.
That has been the problem since my early days on the Board of Communication. Getting news for a newspaper, magazine or web based newsletter is worse that pulling teeth. I have asked on numerous occasions that people send me something that is news worthy and of interest to those of us who are retired, but still want to be informed and connected to the happenings of the Conference and the retired community. Frankly, I have had little success. One exception to that statement is Betty Gunn, who has kept me informed of the happenings of the First Tuesday Lunch Bunch. I want to give a special “thank you” to Betty, but, as all of you know, the information from one group does not make a newsletter.
It is good that we have begun having an active pastor come each month to share his or her passion for ministry. In January we had Wade Griffin from Liberty Crossings talk to us about blogging. In February we had Vicki Cater from Steele talk to us about her “ministry outside the office.” In March we had Sam Williamson talk to us about his ever changing responsibilities at Vestavia. His greatest passion is the local mission work of The Carpenter’s Hands. This month we had Jim Savage talk to us about the continuing work and growth at Riverchase UMC .
These are exciting talks and help us to remember the better times of our own ministry, but, as exciting as this gathering is, the information about it does not make a newsletter. I need real news that helps us stay connected to one another and to the Conference in general. I need your help and the help of the Bishop and Cabinet so that I can receive the news and pass it on to you.
If you are serious about wanting a newsletter, you must act. You may send the news to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at 1670 Big Mountain Drive, Birmingham, AL 35235. Please help me keep the retirees informed and connected!
In February Vicki Cater of Steele UMC spoke to us. She told us her greatest passion for ministry was what she called “Ministry outside the office.” She spends a lot of time out in the community and , because of that, she believes she is well received by most of the population of Steele. She referred to the fact that the Nazarene church had a female pastor a number of years ago who “softened up the people” for a woman pastor. She believes that is one reason she has been well received; however, it took a lot of work outside the office for people to fully accept her as the pastor of the Methodist Church.
In March Sam Williamson spoke of his duties at Canterbury as the senior associate. He spoke of his passion as he recommended clergy for different compassion ministries. He feels that it is necessary to match the clergy to those to whom they minister. He also spoke of his dedication to the ministry to which he is most associated; the ministry of The Carpenter’s Hands. This is a ministry to the community of Birmingham and surrounding areas that reaches out to people whose homes need repairs but are not able to afford to hire the work done. Canterbury helps to fund this work and a large group of members participate in the restoration.
In April Jim Savage of Riverchase UMC spoke of the work of Riverchase. He says that on any given day/night there are so many groups meeting at the church that he cannot keep up with them. Each group provides some means of connecting with the community. He is particularly proud of the Hispanic and the Korean congregations that are part of their church family.
The First Tuesday Lunch Bunch is a group of retired Clergy and spouses who meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 1:00 pm at Chris’ Bar-B-Que on Acton road just off I-459 across from AAA. All retired clergy and spouses are encouraged to join us. For more information contact Betty Gunn (205-940-9392 or Joree Vance (205-824-8184) for more information or to inform them that you are coming so that you may be added to the count.
A Message from Randy Burbank
North Alabama Conference Disaster Response Coordinator
Here is the latest update for Camp Sumatanga. Contact the Camp directly if you can help them finish cleaning up after the storm.
Randy – We have just been cleared by insurance to start clearing the damage on Nina Reeves. We have 5 or 6 large trees that will need to be cut up and moved off of the damage. Do you have a team that would be able to come give us a hand? I’d prefer to get it done during the week, if possible, so that we do not have guests on property.
Thanks for all of your help!
Sumatanga Camp and Conference Center
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church is hosting a great event on April 14-15 for us to remember King’s letter as well as talk about what we need to do now to continue making King’s dream a reality.
On May 12, Mother’s Day Sunday, churches and individuals of North Alabama will be asked to give a special offering to Camp Sumatanga as this date will be Sumatanga Sunday for 2013.
Here is the latest update from Camp Sumatanga:
Just wanted to drop you a line – we are still waiting on insurance to give us the “go-ahead” for cleanup – but we’ve managed to get a good bit done with the brush on the ground – I truly appreciate all the outpouring of support that we have received. I know we will want to utilize a few folks to help us, and I’ll let you know as soon as we can get going.
Sumatanga Camp and Conference Center
For individuals and teams wanting to assist in the Crossville and Kilpatrick areas, call DeKalb County E.M.A. at 256-638-9909 and leave a message if no one answers. The Crossville School Gym is the staging area for volunteers and supplies.
Their current list of supplies needed are:
You may either take these items directly, or if it is closer to you, bring the items to the Northwest District Disaster Warehouse, 3220 Hwy 31 South, Building F, Decatur, AL 35603. Phone number: (256) 341-9961.
In His Grace,
N.A.C. Disaster Response Coordinator
For those wanting to help in the Crossville/Kilpatrick area, we have the following contact information for teams wanting to help: Call 256-638-9909 is the "Helpline" number they are using to call to donate or volunteer. I think it is the number to Community Action office in Rainsville. The Crossville School is only open limited afternoon hours so I know it is not a staging area. Contacting that number will be the closest thing there is at this time and from there I guess they will direct work groups.
We just received word yesterday that the Kilpatrick community is in need of assistance for Debris Removal.
This being classified as a local disaster, ERT badging will not be an issue, however for safety it is highly recommended that at least one person be ERT badged. I am not certain where or if there is a staging area for Volunteers to sign in but I am trying to ascertain that information and will pass it along as quickly as possible.
Begin putting teams together now and I will notify everyone as soon as I know where teams can go to sign in and receive assignments. Continue to pray for everyone affected by this round of storms.
In His Grace,
N.A.C. Disaster Response Coordinator
We have received a Governor's Declaration of a State of Emergency as a result of the storms that went across our Conference on Monday, March 18. The National Weather Service determined that 3 areas affected by Monday's storms were tornadoes. The Kilpatrick area was impacted by an EF-2 tornado. The Fyffe/Shiloh area was also impacted by an EF-2 tornado. A portion of Marshall county leading into Etowah county was impacted by an EF-1 tornado, as well as the Sardis City area was impacted by an EF-1. Cullman County received significant damage from strong wind, as well as other areas. Remember that the Northwest District Disaster Response Warehouse does have on hand tarps, nails and lathing strips to cover damaged roofs. Contact the Warehouse at (256) 341-9961. The Warehouse will deliver these items. If there are other items that are needed, please pass these along to the Warehouse.
As you may be aware, Camp Sumatanga received some significant damage. Camp Director Matt Johnson informed me yesterday that they were waiting for the insurance adjuster before they began full debris removal. We will need teams after the insurance assessment. We will send out an email when Matt requests further help. Contact your District Disaster Response Coordinator, or myself if you have needs or would like to help in both the relief or recovery phases. Continue to keep everyone affected by Monday's storms in your prayers.
In His Grace,
Conference Disaster Response Coordinator
I live in the country—way in the country, Pickens County, West Alabama—and I sometimes take walks in the country, too. On the morning of March 9, 2013, I took a walk. I was in a thoughtful mood. March 9 was my daddy’s birthday. If he had lived, he would have been 101 years old that day. As I walked, the sun rose over the eastern horizon. Birds twittered in the underbrush. I breathed in great gulps of fresh air and Spirit. Memories of my father came and went.
One of the primary debates in Washington right now is in how to solve the country’s debt and budget deficit. Many clergy and people of faith are urging lawmakers to make sure that we protect the country’s most vulnerable and avoid spending cuts that would hurt the poor and middle class. The United Methodist Social Principles support progressive tax structures that ask the rich to pay more and protects programs for the poor. Faith in Public Life has organized a day of action that is in accordance with the United Methodist Social Principles that the Justice and Advocacy Team would like to ask our churches to consider taking action in one of the ways described below. While we are past the official deadline, it is still not too late to make a difference in this debate and to stand with and for “the least of these.”
The season of Lent urges us to contemplate of our own mortality, “dust you are and to dust you shall return”. We are all merely earthen vessels, and we will all inevitably, one day be returned to the earth. Yet, within each of us emanates the essence of the Divine; into formless dust our Creator breathed His eternal presence. A gift of incomprehensible worth entrusted into jars made of little more than water and clay; life made sacred in its earliest moment by the will of its Creator.
This Thursday, Alabama ARISE, an organization that advocates with the state legislature for low-income Alabamians (and financially supported by the Advocacy and Social Justice Team) is hosting its annual lobby day. This is a great opportunity for us as United Methodists to come Montgomery to remind our elected leaders of Christ’s call to “care for the least of these.” I hope you will all consider attending.
Have you ever assessed who your Christian friends are? I recently did this in a funny way. In planning some team processes, I needed to list some friends or acquaintances that have a passion for the work of Jesus Christ in reaching and telling the message of God and his kingdom.