What’s Wrong with Playing the Lottery?

What’s Wrong with Playing the Lottery?

  • By Mike Poteet
  • MinistryMatters
  • Posted on December 30th, 2013

 

‘Tis the (Scratch-Off) Season

Did you find lottery tickets in your Christmas stocking? Did you stuff some in someone else’s? Every holiday season, state lottery agencies spend their advertising dollars persuading consumers to buy tickets for folks on their gift lists. Here in Pennsylvania, we’ve watched versions of the same TV commercial for 20 Decembers: A jovial gentleman shuffles through snow-filled streets giving scratchoff tickets to coffee-shop and newsstand workers, while faux Dickensian carolers sing about various “instant win” games to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

I once received lottery tickets as a Christmas gift. The givers wanted me to “scratch-’n’-win” in their presence. My five tickets, which cost them a dollar each, yielded zero dollars, zero cents prize money. Call me ungrateful, but I’d have preferred the five bucks! And what if I’d won a fantastic sum? Would I have felt obligated to share it with the givers? Would they have felt resentful if I hadn’t?

Across the pond, the United Kingdom lotto suggests, “If you can’t stand the idea of your friend winning without you, you could always buy a duplicate ticket for yourself so that the jackpot is shared if those numbers come up!” O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” it ain’t.

“Hope and Dreams on Sale”

Whether or not lottery tickets figured into your festivities, they are familiar to plenty of Americans all year long. Forty-three states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, run lotteries. (The lottery-less states are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.) In addition, such games as Powerball and Mega Millions draw players from across state lines with the possibility of huge payouts. As of December 8, the Powerball jackpot stood at $122 million—an impressive amount, but far from the record-smashing totals that persuade even more people to play. When the jackpot reached its highest level yet, $590 million, last May, 232 million tickets were purchased.

“More than half of us have played the lottery in the last year,” according to Cable News Network (CNN), “although 20% of customers buy the majority of the tickets.” In fiscal 2012, Americans spent around $78 billion playing lotteries. Since 1964, when New Hampshire launched the first modern state lottery, ticket sales have gone up every year, “even during the Great Recession,” reports CNN Money, “when the sale of most other items declined.”

What drives the popularity of lotteries? Not the astonishingly long odds. You’re more likely to be attacked by a shark (one in 11.5 million) or die in a lightning strike (one in three million) than you are to win Powerball’s grand prize (one in 175,223,510). You’d have to buy 86 million tickets to reach even a fifty-fifty chance of winning. Science journalist Eric Berger says the only eventuality with even higher odds is a meteor crashing into your house (one in 182 trillion).

Other factors, then, influence people’s decisions to play. Economist Melissa Kearney says, “For the majority of lottery players, they are getting a bit of entertainment or consumption value. Simply the fact that it isn’t a positive return doesn’t mean it’s an irrational choice.” One reason the lottery can be so entertaining is that we enjoy fantasizing about what we’d do with a seven-figure (or more) windfall. As Rebecca Paul Hargrove, president of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, puts it, “For $2 you can spend the day dreaming about what you would do with half a billion dollars—half a billion dollars!”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Stephen Goldbart suggests the lottery appeals because “it lets you believe in magic: that you will be the one who spent a little and got a lot . . . the money that will . . . give you a respite from the conflict, complexity, and angst of everyday life.” In other words, the lottery offers a vision of a better future, even though it won’t grant it to most who play. “It’s a game,” writes journalist Adam Piore, “where reason and logic are rendered obsolete, and hope and dreams are on sale.”

“The Worst Thing That Ever Happened”

Most states don’t allow lottery winners to remain anonymous (only Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, North Dakota, and Ohio do). Pennsylvanians can browse an online gallery of winners and read about their lucky tickets; if your state runs a lottery, you probably can, too. “The single-best commercial that the lottery has,” says attorney Andrew Stoltmann, “is the press conference that winners hold discussing how the lottery winnings have changed their lives.”

Some winners’ stories generate positive publicity. For example, among the “Oceans’ 16” Powerball winners last August—coworkers in New Jersey who jointly held one of three winning tickets in a $448 million jackpot—were several people who lost property to Superstorm Sandy. One winner announced her immediate plans: “Buy me and my daughter a home and bring my dog back home.” Stories of storm victims, single parents, or financially struggling families “hitting it big” can make us feel good about lotteries and the players who win them.

But the public generally overlooks the potentially negative consequences of winning the lottery, unless or until those consequences make attention-grabbing headlines, too. In 1997, Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won $31 million in the Texas Lottery. After two years of stress caused by strangers seeking handouts (Harrell had to change his phone number multiple times), bad business choices, and a separation from his wife, Harrell died, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “Winning the lottery was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” he once said.

Harrell’s case may be extreme, but some lottery winners find their new wealth brings new woes. “There are very few things in life that someone’s life could change that great, that suddenly,” observes Jason Kurland, an attorney who specializes in representing lottery winners. The instant influx of money, the unwanted attention it brings, and the internal emotional and psychological responses to winning can all create problems. Financial planner Michael Boone reports only half of lottery winners are actually happier three years later. He quotes Henry Ford: “Money doesn’t change a person, it simply unmasks them.”

Social Benefit or Social Bane?

In its 1999 report to Congress, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission observed, “The principal argument used in every state to promote the adoption of a lottery has focused on its value as a source of ‘painless’ revenue: players voluntarily spending their money (as opposed to the general public being taxed) for the benefit of the public good.” According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL), states gained over $19 billion in 2012 for education, senior citizen services, health care, and other programs.

But do lotteries intended to help “the public good” actually harm great portions of the public?

Like any gambling, the lottery carries addictive potential for some players. In 2005, the New York Council on Problem Gambling found 40 percent of calls to its hotline were from people with lottery-related issues. “There’s just not a lot of research,” said director Jim Maney, but for those who gamble, the lottery is “the biggest problem in New York state.”

Others question the lottery’s impact on people in poverty. In 2012, for example, the Dallas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for an end to the Texas Lottery, charging it “targeted . . . black people and poor people. . . . Our people are spending their little money, their life savings away in hopes of winning,” said president Dr. Juanita Wallace. One analysis of North Carolina lottery data revealed that “all but two of the [state’s] 20 most impoverished counties had per capita [lottery] sales that topped the state average.” The Bangor Daily News found residents of Maine’s poorest county spent the most per capita on tickets.

For its part, the NASPL points to research suggesting that frequent lottery players “are no more likely to be poor or have little formal education” than anyone else, and claims, “The overwhelming majority of poor people, along with the overwhelming majority of upper-income people, play with restraint and moderation.”

George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology, rejects the idea that most lottery players, poor or otherwise, are harming themselves: “It’s ridiculous to say that 51% of the population is just irrational or self-destructive. . . . [The lottery] serves a psychological function. . . . Our pleasure of living is not only based on our current situation, but . . . what we can imagine our situation could become.”


Be sure to check out FaithLink, a weekly downloadable discussion guide for classes and small groups. FaithLink motivates Christians to consider their personal views on important contemporary issues, and it also encourages them to act on their beliefs.

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When God Shows Up

When God Shows Up

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Luke 2:1-20

A Sunday school teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem. A small child replied, “They couldn’t get a babysitter.” There is a young person who looks at life with a practical bent. Thank goodness, so does God. God knew we needed the Incarnation, so God showed up.

It seems to me that Christmas is about showing up. The Magi showed up. They could have stayed in their own country. They could have published a paper (or scroll) about their astronomical and astrological findings. They could have sent someone else to check things out, but no, the Magi showed up. It was not an easy trek. There were no Holiday Inns or exit signs marking restaurants along the way. There was no highway patrol to protect from robbers and muggers. Still, the Magi went anyway, because they decided to show up.

In contrast, Herod ran away. Herod sent someone else. Herod stayed at the palace and relied on others to do his dirty work. He sent soldiers to eliminate any possible threat, and left Rachel weeping for her children. The cries of anguish of mothers throughout Judea condemned Herod’s cowardly absence.

Joseph and Mary showed up. It was not an easy journey for them. No physician of the first century would advise traveling while pregnant, but they showed up. Caesar’s census compelled them. Faithfulness propelled them. The call of God upheld them, and they showed up.

The shepherds showed up. Frightened but faithful to heed the news of the angelic choir, they showed up. Accustomed to tending sheep rather than attending a baby’s birth, they still showed up. They did what they had to do, what they were asked to do, what they could do. The shepherds tended their flocks, and attended the birth of One to whom countless throngs would flock, and they showed up.

Simeon showed up. He waited to see the salvation of God’s people. He knew that he would not die until he did. He waited with patience, fidelity, and wisdom. When his eyes beheld the Christ Child, he knew what God had already promised. He realized that God always shows up as promised. Simeon had waited to see the promise show up.

Most of our journey is about showing up. God showed up, and our lives are changed forever. Faithful living, sacrificial service, committed discipleship are all about arriving at the foot of the cross and standing before the empty tomb. Once we have encountered those truths, we know that God has shown up and so must we.

We are a people on a journey, and like children in the backseat of the family van, we are constantly wondering, “Are we there yet?” Life is not solely about our destination. Life is, most of all, about our journey.

The leading factor in at-risk kids’ becoming incarcerated or addicted, or dying prematurely, is lack of education—dropping out of school. They don’t start school as children who plan to drop out. They quit due to frustration, inability to read, lack of a mentor, or lack of parental support. The best way to help these kids is to show up. Think of what might happen if you bother to show up.

Consider the difference in someone’s journey when you simply show up. Change the life of a child forever by showing up. Volunteer. Tutor. Serve. Give. Pray. Witness. Lobby. Lead. The Sunday school is the largest volunteer organization in the world, yet there can be no Sunday school if teachers don’t show up. The American Red Cross is usually the first on the scene of disasters, yet they would be almost totally ineffective if their volunteers failed to show up. The church is the body of Christ, yet there would be no church if you failed to show up to worship, witness, and serve.

Live out the faith you proclaim. Announce to the world the arrival of God. God showed up for us; it is our time to return the favor. (Gary G. Kindley)

 

 

 

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2013: Same-sex wedding issues abound

2013: Same-sex wedding issues abound

December 19, 2013

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

by United Methodist News Service

Weddings and trials sound disharmony for The United Methodist Church as it ends a year that included two well-publicized same-sex weddings and a high-profile church trial for a pastor who officiated at his son’s same-sex nuptials.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer no longer holds a ministerial office in The United Methodist Church according to a ruling Dec. 19 by the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference’s board of ordained ministry.

But the pastor and his legal counsel announced plans for an appeal in a news conference the same afternoon. Schaefer said the trial court’s ruling asked him to surrender his credentials, which he refused to do.

Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader of the conference, said the board then deemed his credentials surrendered.

Found guilty Nov. 18 of violating church law, Schaefer was given a 30-day supervised suspension and told if he cannot agree to uphold the entire Book of Discipline he must surrender his credentials.

Disagreement over same-sex unions and official church language that states, “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” is nothing new for the church, but the issue reached a fever pitch when a retired United Methodist bishop officiated at a wedding for two men in Alabama and more than 50 United Methodist pastors officiated at a same-sex wedding in Philadelphia.

Protests against the denomination’s stance gathered steam at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference when the top lawmaking assembly rejected efforts to change the language about homosexuality including a proposal to say the church was in disagreement about homosexuality. General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, will next convene in 2016.

After that proposal failed, retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert said the church’s stance is “wrong and evil … and no longer calls for our obedience.” He said he would be willing to perform same-sex weddings for pastors who felt they could not do so because of restrictions in the Book of Discipline.
Church law

The United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, since 1972 has proclaimed the practice of homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The book prohibits United Methodist churches from hosting and clergy from performing “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.”

However, many United Methodist clergy and church members have become more vocal and are participating in “ecclesial disobedience” to church law.

Adding fuel to the movement was the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26 that part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it deprives the equal liberty of persons as protected by the Fifth Amendment. The case did not establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage but did establish that same-sex couples who are legally married are entitled to equal treatment under federal law.

That ruling affected the church and in October, the General Council on Finance and Administration’s board announced the denomination’s general agencies would extend employee benefits to same-sex couples but asked the Judicial Council, the supreme court of the church, for a declaratory judgment on whether the benefits extension violates church law.
Other possible trials

The Rev. Stephen Heiss, a pastor in the Upper New York Annual (regional) Conference, announced he will likely face a church trial for officiating at the same-sex ceremony of his daughter in 2002 and more such unions since New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011.

Bishop Mark J. Webb, who leads the Upper New York Conference, announced in a statement Oct. 28 that he has referred a complaint against Heiss to the counsel of the church, the equivalent of a prosecutor.

Two other United Methodist clergy have had formal complaints filed against them and could face trials in 2014.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired seminary dean and elder in the New York Conference, is facing a formal complaint after officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son in 2012. Some clergy filed the complaint against Ogletree after his son’s wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.

The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy, also in the New York Conference, is facing a formal complaint that she is a “self-avowed practicing” lesbian, a chargeable offense under church law.
Weddings could lead to trials

Days before the trial of Schaefer, United Methodists Richard Kevin Taylor and William Robert Gatewood celebrated their 25-year relationship with a service of Christian marriage inside stately Arch Street United Methodist Church on Nov. 9. They were surrounded by more than 50 faith leaders—mostly United Methodist– who blessed their marriage and recited in unison, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”

Talbert officiated at the wedding of United Methodists Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince at Covenant Community United Church of Christ in Center Point, Ala. on Oct. 26. He is the first bishop to defy publicly the church’s law against United Methodist clergy officiating at same-sex unions. The wedding was also the first same-sex marriage he was asked to perform, he said.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops “respectfully” requested a formal complaint be filed against Talbert during its fall council session.

In Seattle, two United Methodist female pastors, the Revs. Joanne Carlson Brown and Christie Newbill, were married Dec. 7 by the Rev. Patricia Simpson, a district superintendent, before more than 300 people at Tibbetts United Methodist Church.
Calls for civil conversation

The Rev. Thomas E. Frank, a historian of Methodism and professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., issued an open letter Nov. 13 to the Council of Bishops saying for the sake of church unity, trials need to stop — and the bishops have the authority to stop them.

His statement was met with disagreements on both sides of the issue.

The Connectional Table suspended business Nov. 19 for conversation around inclusiveness after a disruption by Love Prevails, a group advocating inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the life of The United Methodist Church.

The issues of homosexuality and same-gender marriage are issues “that we cannot dodge as a denomination,” said Bishop Bruce Ough, chairperson of the Connectional Table. “… We are not all of one mind, and I don’t think we know what the mind of Christ is on this either.”

*Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for United Methodist News Service.

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2013: Notable passings in Methodism

2013: Notable passings in Methodism
December 19, 2013
by United Methodist News Service

By United Methodist News Service

In 2013, church members marked the passing of a number of United Methodist and Methodist leaders who made significant contributions in their Christian walk.

Those to whom we said goodbye include a global ecumenical leader, a social justice advocate, a lay leader active at all levels of the church, a civil rights activist and a pioneering British prime minister who never forgot her Methodist roots.

Here are nine remembrances.
The Rev. Emilio Castro

The Rev. Emilio Castro, who helped define the global ecumenical movement, died April 6 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He was 85.

A clergy member of the Methodist Church of Uruguay, Castro is remembered as a church leader who combined faith with a commitment to justice during turbulent political times in Latin America and his work as top executive of the World Council of Churches from 1985 to 1992.

“Dr. Castro’s work and example were instrumental in the education of my generation of missionaries and mission thinkers,” said Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and a former missionary in Brazil, in a statement.

The Rev. Bob Edgar

The Rev. Bob Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and a “tireless defender of the poor and an advocate for justice,” died unexpectedly April 23 of a heart attack at his home in the Washington area. He was 69.

Edgar, who was top executive of Common Cause, is the former top executive of the National Council of Churches and a former six-term member of the U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania. He was president of United Methodist-related Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology from 1990 to 2000.

“Bob was a valued friend, social progressive and committed Christian leader,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications. “He brought a wonderful sense of humor to any gathering in which he was present. He was a tireless defender of the poor and an advocate for justice. His voice will be missed.”

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, who served as the United Kingdom’s first female prime minister from 1979 to 1990, died after a stroke April 8 in London. She was 87.

Less known about Thatcher is that she grew up deeply involved in the British Methodist Church and was a lay preacher at Wesley Memorial Chapel while a student at Oxford. Her Methodist upbringing played a key role at her funeral on April 17, The Telegraph in London reported. St. Paul’s Cathedral echoed to the rousing Charles Wesley hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.” The choice reflected her wishes that the faith passed down to her by her father, Alderman Alf Roberts, be marked at the service.

She ultimately became a member of the Church of England after her marriage. But as The Telegraph also reported, she later explained the change was not that big. John Wesley, she said, “regarded himself as a member of the Church of England to his dying day.”

Gloria E. Holt

Gloria E. Holt, a longtime lay leader and volunteer at every level of The United Methodist Church, died Aug. 28, because of complications linked to her battle with breast cancer.

She was a member of the Commission on General Conference, former president of the United Methodist Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders and presenter of the Laity Address at the 2004 General Conference. She also served on the Global Ministries Board of Directors, the Mission Volunteers Board of Directors, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and in various capacities in the North Alabama (regional) Conference and ClearBranch United Methodist Church in Trussville, Ala.

“I will remember Gloria as a kind and gentle soul who always sought to see past our divisions to our common ground in Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist II, the secretary of the General Conference.
Evelyn Gibson Lowery

Evelyn Gibson Lowery, 88, died Sept. 26 in her home in Atlanta after a stroke on Sept. 18.

Lowery was a civil rights leader and the wife of civil rights leader and United Methodist, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery. She founded the SCLC/W.O.M.E.N (Women’s Organization for Equality Now) in 1979 and created the annual Drum Major of Justice Awards, which are on April 4, the date of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination.

“My beloved Evelyn was a special woman, whose life was committed to service, especially around the issues of empowering women,” said Rev. Lowey in a statement. “She was a wonderful mother and wife, and I thank God that she didn’t suffer any pain and that I was blessed having her as my partner, my confidant and my best friend for close to 70 years.”

The Rev. Hector Manuel Navas

The Rev. Hector Manuel Navas, 79, a founder of The United Methodist Church’s Hispanic/Latino caucus, died Sept. 18.

Navas was a founder of Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans, and served as a pastor, missionary and executive of different United Methodist institutions, and member of several boards and agencies at the general church and annual conference levels. He also was a U.S. Army veteran.

“With his death, MARCHA lost one of its most loyal members, and The United Methodist Church lost one of its most effective Hispanic leaders,” the caucus said in a statement.

Bishop D. Frederick Wertz

Bishop D. Frederick Wertz, who led the West Virginia, Washington and Harrisburg (Pa.) episcopal areas, died Oct. 16 in Carlisle, Pa. His passing came less than two weeks after his 97th birthday.

Elected to the episcopacy in 1968 — the same year as the merger that formed The United Methodist Church — he played a crucial role in uniting former Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren members.

“His episcopal leadership was about moving with a purpose together all these entities that could have been divided,” said the Rev. Bill Wilson, who was ordained an elder by Wertz. Wilson is now retired as West Virginia’s director of connectional ministries and assistant to the bishop.

Bishop Wayne K. Clymer

Bishop Wayne K. Clymer died Nov. 25 at age 96, just hours after speaking in the Twin Cities at the funeral of a longtime friend and fellow clergy member. He is remembered as a wise and deeply spiritual leader who modeled compassion and graciousness in his ministry and throughout his life.

He was elected bishop in 1972, leading first the Minnesota Conference until 1980, and next the Iowa Conference, until retiring in 1984. Between 1976 and 1984, he also served as president of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the denomination’s relief agency.

“In the tradition of the early church’s desert mothers and fathers, Bishop Clymer was a contemporary spiritual father of the Minnesota Conference and much of The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, who leads the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and icon in the struggle against oppression, died Dec. 5 in his home at the age of 95.

Throughout his life, Mandela has had many connections to Methodism. He was baptized a Methodist and graduated from a Methodist boarding school where many future African leaders were educated. The anti-apartheid champion was mentored by Methodist preachers and educators and formed a bond with a Methodist chaplain while in prison. He continued to work with church leaders after his election. His survivors include his wife, Graça Machel, a United Methodist, widow of the former president of Mozambique and an advocate for women’s and children’s rights.

The World Methodist Council recognized Mandela as a “symbol of freedom, justice and peace” when presenting him with its 2000 peace award.

News media contact: Heather Hahn at (615) 742-5470 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

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Church helps rebuild communications in Philippines

Church helps rebuild communications in Philippines
United Methodist news Service, Nov.22,2013
UMCOR-food-line-Philippines-800-580x367

When the United Methodist Committee on Relief delivered food packages Nov. 20 to six storm-ravaged communities in Dagami, the Philippines, it was the first substantial emergency relief aid there since Typhoon Haiyan struck nearly two weeks earlier.

Linda Unger, a senior writer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and Mike DuBose, a photographer for United Methodist Communications, were there to tell the story.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Lucia Millona, a small, slight woman who is the only support for her small child. “Our house was destroyed and we have no clothes,” she said. “This is the first help we’ve received.”

Although Dagami, about 20 miles from Tacloban, turns away from the coast, residents still suffered typhoon winds and flooding from overflowing rivers that destroyed crops, homes, businesses and livelihoods.

Read the full story about food distribution in Dagami. (OMCOR Website)

This was UMCOR’s second food distribution in two days, part of a truckload of 1,500 food packages that UMCOR staff and volunteers assembled in Manila, the capital, and drove over the course of 36 hours to Haiyan-impacted communities in Leyte Province.

The first was to residents of Barangay Naganaga, a struggling and impoverished community in Tacloban, one of the areas hardest hit by the Nov. 8 typhoon, known locally as Yolanda.

Ciony Ayo-Eduarte, head of mission of UMCOR Philippines, and the Rev. Jack Amick, UMCOR ‘s executive for international disaster response, led the convoy to Naganaga, where food assistance had only begun to trickle in the day before, 10 days after the typhoon.

“We thought it was the end of the world,” said Erlinda Andal, 30, as she waited for a food package. She, her husband, and their four children ages 7, 8, 9, and 12, had climbed to the roof of their modest home for safety as the storm surge rose. “The water kept going up and up,” she said. “It was up to our chests.”

Andal, a manicurist, said she and her husband, a carpenter, were thankful for the assistance. “It will be a very big help for our family,” she said.

Read more about the Nagnanaga distribution and the UMCOR relief team. (UMCOR Website)

Through its presence and prayers, the United Methodist team tried to respond to the hurt as well as the hunger.

When Edita Tante picked up the bright yellow bag that contained enough rice, oil, beans, coffee, and other staples to last her family about a week, an UMCOR volunteer, Archelaus Joseph Laudes, offered to carry it for her back to her shanty.

It was only on arriving there that Edita Tante, who survived the storm with her husband, Margarito, tearfully revealed that four of their grandchildren had not. Laudes, a student pastor who is finishing his studies at Union Theological Seminary in Cavite, listened to Tante’s story and offered a prayer of strength and hope.

Read more about the Tantes and their struggle to survive the typhoon.

Many volunteers, mainly Filipino university and seminary students, spent two days making food packages filled with rice, oil, salt, brown sugar, mongo beans (a versatile lentil), sardines, cooking oil, and coffee for the typhoon survivors.

“Thanks to the generous outpouring of United Methodists, this is just the first of several shipments UMCOR anticipates making to assist the survivors,” Amick said.

“Rebuilding will take years,” he said. “We will move forward with the Filipino people, counting on God’s grace and the support of United Methodists and people of goodwill everywhere.”

Read how UMCOR truck got ready to roll. (UMCOR Website)

More coverage on the United Methodist response to Typhoon Haiyan.
Support UMCOR’s relief and recovery work in the Philippines by contributing to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450.

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Church helps rebuild communications in Philippines

Church helps rebuild communications in Philippines

November 22, 2013
by United Methodist News Service

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Pastor Iris Picardal Terana (second from right) describes damage from Typhoon Haiyan at Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban, Philippines for a visiting technology team from United Methodist Communications and Inveneo. From left are church member Ronell de Juan; Ernani Celzo, working with UMCom; Clark Ritchie of Inveneo; April Gonzaga-Mercado, working with UMCom; the pastor and her husband, Jhonril Terana. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.

By United Methodist News Service
A United Methodist-led team has been providing communications relief in the Philippines this week, assessing needs and identifying ways to reconnect churches and communities after the recent typhoon.

Typhoon Yolanda, known outside the Philippines as Haiyan, destroyed much of the communications infrastructure across a wide swath of the central Philippines when it hit Nov. 8.

“The Philippine government issued a call to international organizations for assistance to urgently restore communications in the affected area,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top staff executive of United Methodist Communications. “This would help with everything from air traffic control to monitoring disease to informing people where clean water, food and medical assistance is available.”

The loss of communications capacity was “very serious,” he said. “It meant that people were not only unable to report on the extent of damage in the affected area, it meant that people in remote places were literally isolated and did not know of rescue and relief efforts.”

United Methodist Communications received inquiries from NetHope, a disaster communications organization, and the World Food Program Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, which also does emergency communications response, to consider partnering with them in helping to re-establish the severely damaged communications infrastructure, he said.

The communications agency worked with these and other partners in preparing to respond with a focus on assessing needs and restoring communications.
When Hollon contacted the Philippines bishops at the United Methodist Council of Bishops meeting in Lake Junaluska, N.C., with an offer of assistance, they accepted.

‘One year to restore power’

Bishop Ciriaco Francisco returned to the Philippines Nov. 22 and was preparing to meet with his staff for an update on the disaster, which struck the church’s Davao Episcopal Area. “According to my district superintendent, it will take one year to restore power to the area affected by the typhoon,” he said in a note to United Methodist News Service. “If that is the case, then the communications system which you will install will help a lot (for) the people of the area.”

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Andris Bjornson (left) and Clark Ritchie of Inveneo, working in the Manila offices of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, configure cell phones for responders to Typhoon Haiyan.

The agency arranged for two engineers with Inveneo, a technology company specializing in communications for development, to go to the Philippines to assess church communications needs, do site assessments and recommend solutions. Inveneo responded to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti by building a network that is used today by two telecommunications providers and covers nearly a third of the country, according to the company.

The Inveneo engineers were traveling with other United Methodist partners based in the Philippines, including April Gonzaga-Mercado, United Methodist Communications’ point person in the country. Ciony Ayo-Eduarte, the field coordinator for the United Methodist Committee on Relief in the Philippines, helped facilitate the team’s movement through the affected areas.

Through Internews, another partner, the team had access to an emergency radio station. Hollon noted that it “could be employed to broadcast information to people such as the location of food distribution points, health clinics and emergency room locations, sources of clean water and similar essential information during the recovery.”

The Inveneo engineers also provided four Android phones to UMCom/UMCOR and local staff for communicating in the disaster area. United Methodist Communications has been working with Inveneo to provide a satellite phone for partners in the country.

“Most of the time access to communication is not given priority since our priority is to deliver help to people,” Ayo-Eduarte said in an email to United Methodist Communications. “We were able to have that access through the sat phone UMCom has provided, and the Inveneo engineers, Andris (Bjornson) and Clark (Ritchie), have opened up other access to the coordinating areas we visited.”

A communications lifeline

The team arrived in the hard-hit city of Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, Nov. 18. Its visit included the distribution of food aid by UMCOR. From there, the team moved through the vicinity, visiting local churches and assessing needs. It finished the week in Manila, where team members met with staff in Francisco’s office to assess needs.

“For the people of Visayas, communication has become their lifeline,” Gonzaga-Mercado wrote, referring to the Visayas islands that include Leyte. “It has become their shining beacon of hope that will connect them to the rest of the world. It is through communication that they were able to share their stories, catch up with surviving peers and family members. It is through communication that we can turn this tragedy into victory.”

Near the end of the week, Nov. 21, the team split up to cover more areas. One group met with pastors in the Tacloban area, and the team mapped a church using one of the satellite phones provided by Inveneo. Using the phone’s mobile data collection tool, the team recorded the church’s coordinates for easy location, setting the stage for a possible connectivity project after the church is rebuilt. The team also visited church members and provided relief to 25 families in the congregation, many of them now homeless, according to an email report by Gonzaga-Mercado.
Tech-Philippines-cell-phone-cpmfig-290x202
Other areas visited included Western Samar, where the team assessed cellular and FM radio conditions.

Stewart Davies (left) of the United Nations and Clark Ritchie (center) of Inveneo visit with Maggie Yrasuegui of FEBC Radio, which is providing information for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban.
Team members also connected with Internews, Solar News TV and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on communications needs in the provinces of Leyte, Samar and neighboring areas, according to Gonzaga-Mercado.
Internews, a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering local media worldwide, did a four-day assessment of information needs and communications access in the affected area. “Restoring the communication networks, including mobile phone and radio, must be a humanitarian priority as people are literally left in the dark in most areas,” said Jacobo Quintanilla, Internews’ director of Humanitarian Communication Programs, on the organization’s website.

Through communications with the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, part of the team became aware of a need to connect the Save the Children office to the United Nations Internet network, according to Andris Bjornson, chief technology officer for Inveneo. He and United Methodist communicator Ernani Celzo assembled the wireless antennas and configured wireless equipment to connect the office.

Bjornson also spoke with a senior engineer with the Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company in Tacloban about restoring the network and cellular infrastructure in the area. Bjornson noted that the telephone/power poles were “in total disarray following the storm and will take time to restore.”

A clear message
United Methodist Communications was able to assist immediately in part because of the work done earlier in the month by a team visiting the Philippines. “Our constant communication and coordination has helped in quick response to the situation,” Ayo-Eduarte said in an email.

The United Methodist Communications team, led by the Rev. Neelley Hicks, visited the Philippines with partners from the denomination’s Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference and Inveneo. They listened to needs, did site assessments for information and communications technology centers, and trained United Methodist partners on the use of tools such as FrontlineSMS, which enables texting across large groups of users; the Ushahidi mapping tool; Worldreader and biNu electronic reading tools; and MedicMobile, which enables health care providers to communicate easily with people in other areas.

“Our ability to communicate is not merely a matter of convenience or access to entertainment. And this is true around the world,” Hollon said. “It’s a matter of life and death in emergency situations such as a natural disaster.

“We say at United Methodist Communications that a clear message can save lives,” he said. “The Philippines disaster is an example of the critical role communications technologies have in our lives today.”

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

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Schaefer Jury: 30 day suspension and possible surrender

From The United Methodist Reporter, Nov.20, 2013

Schaefer Jury: 30 day suspension and possible surrender

November 19, 2013 By Erik Alsgaard, UMR Correspondent 5 Comments

SPRING CITY, Pa. — The jury in the trial of the Rev. Frank Schaefer has ordered that Schaefer be suspended immediately from the practice of ministry for 30 days, during which time he must decide whether he is willing to comply with the United Methodist Book of Discipline “in it’s entirety” or surrender his ministerial credentials.

The jury, which had found Schaefer guilty yesterday of performing a same-sex wedding (for his son Tim) and disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church, said that if Schaefer violates the provisions of the Book of Discipline during that 30 day period, he will immediately be asked to surrender his ministerial credentials. During the 30 day period Schaefer is to engage in reflection about his calling to the GLBTQ community. If he determines at the end of that period that he cannot uphold the Book of Discipline in whole, he is to turn in his credentials, thus removing himself from the pastoral office.

Following a sidebar conversation between presiding Bishop Alfred Gwinn and the parties in the trial, Gwinn asked the jury how they intended for the verdict to be implemented. The jury stated that Schaefer’s district superintendent, the Rev. James Todd, will be responsible for supervising the implementation of the verdict. At the end of the 30 day period, Schaefer is to meet with the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry to report on the results of his period of discernment.

The counsel for the church, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, said that he believed the penalty to be “gracious,” for it put the responsibility of determining the outcome ultimately upon Schaefer.

The responses on Twitter from supporters of Schaefer were generally less gracious, suggesting that the jury had failed to decisive in their verdict. Love Prevails UMC, a group advocating for full participation of GLBTQ persons in the life of the church tweeted: “The jury did not have the integrity to kick Frank Schaefer out. They’re making him decide himself.”

Schaefer said earlier in the day that he could not say that he he could be obedient to the UM Book of Discipline. “I feel called to minister to everybody,” he said. “This experience has transformed me. I am now an advocate, a spokesperson for a cause.”

Erik Alsgaard
UMR Correspondent The Rev. Erik Alsgaard is a member of the Detroit Conference, on loan to the Baltimore-Washington Conference, serving in the Ministry of Communications there as Editor of the UMConnection newspaper.

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SCHAEFER SUSPENDED 30 DAYS FOR PERFORMING SAME SEX WEDDING

  • Schaefer suspended 30 days for performing same-sex wedding

November 19, 2013

by United Methodist News Service
By Kathy L. Gilbert*

SPRING CITY, Penn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Frank Schaefer has been given a 30-day suspension by the jury in his church trial and told that if he can’t uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety he must surrender his credentials.

Schaefer was found guilty Nov. 18 of violating the church’s law against pastors performing same-sex unions and of disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. He acknowledged having performed the same-sex wedding of his son, Tim, in 2007.

The 30 day-suspension will cover both convictions, the jury said in a decision announced about 9 p.m. Eastern time. Schaefer also is to be monitored by his district superintendent in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference and must meet with the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry during the suspension period.

The Rev. Amy DeLong of the Wisconsin Conference was found guilty in 2011 of having officiated at a same-sex union and given a 20-day suspension, as well as assignments her jury felt were needed to restore the “covenant” relationship.

The jury of ordained ministers in the Schaefer trial heard a full day of penalty phase testimony Nov. 19, with Schaefer himself saying, “I cannot go back to being silent. I am now an advocate for LGBT people in the world and in the church.”

Schaefer’s words also echoed in closing arguments. He had earlier acknowledged performing the same-sex wedding of his son, Tim, and refused to promise not to perform a same-sex wedding again.

The Rev. Christopher Fisher, counsel for the church, told the jury, “You have heard him, he is non-repentive, unapologetic and committed to disobeying the Book of Discipline.”

The Rev. Robert Coombe, the opposing counsel, asked the jury, “Who was hurt by Rev. Schaefer performing his son’s wedding?”

Coombe added, “You have an opportunity… It is in your hands. I hope your hands are connected to your hearts.”

Fisher, in response to Coombe, told the jury, “We should let him (Schaefer) go, wish him well and free him from our church.”
Church witnesses

Penalty phase witnesses included members of Zion Iona United Methodist Church, where Schaefer has been on staff for 11 years. (He’s currently on leave.)

William Bailey, a longtime church leader, said his relationship with Schaefer began well but soured when he learned the pastor had performed a same-sex wedding.

“It came to the point when we could no longer attend church there,” Bailey said. He added that membership and giving have declined at Zion Iona.

On cross-examination, Bailey acknowledged the church had problems beyond some members objecting to Schaefer’s role in the same-sex wedding. He said conflict around worship style arose between Schaefer and the church music director, Deb Boger. Jon Boger, her son, filed the complaint against Schaefer.

Christian Watson, another church member and director of Christian education, said when she needed pastoral care during the illness and death of her mother, Schaefer told her he could not offer the help she needed.

She also said she had conversations with Schaefer in which he told her did not think the United Methodist Book of Discipline had to be followed.

Two other church members, John Schlegel and Drew Gingrich, offered a different perspective, saying they want Rev. Schaefer to come back as soon as possible.

“We have church on Sunday, I want him to return immediately,” Schlegel said.

Gingrich, 21, said he was “born and raised at Zion Iona.” He said Schaefer shows the “unconditional love of Christ. He welcomes everyone. I would be ecstatic for him to come back. He is a friend, mentor and my hero.”

The Rev. James Todd, district superintendent of Schaefer’s appointment, described the congregation at Zion Iona as a “complex scenario.”

When the word first got out about the wedding, Todd said he called a meeting where there was a lot of support for the pastor. Then, during the summer, listening sessions in smaller groups found some participants were supportive and some not.

Schaefer wrote a note in his clergy profile in 2006 stating he had three gay children and planned to preside over the wedding of his gay son. At the time, Todd explained, there were two forms he was to review—a clergy interview form and a clergy profile. Todd acknowledged he did not read Schaefer’s profile.
Expert witnesses

The Rev. Tom Frank, a Wake Forest University professor and author of a book considered a standard text on United Methodist polity, said the Book of Discipline contains a lot of statements that do not correspond with each other.

“Pastoral judgment is the critical element,” he said. “I view the Book of Discipline as a pastor’s book. The Discipline guides our lives but any form of covenant requires pastors to use it for pastoral judgment.”

The Rev. Paul Stallsworth, pastor of Whiteville (Va.) United Methodist Church took a moment of personal privilege before he testified about the Articles of Ministry.

“Let’s be candid,” he said. “What we are trying to do is not enjoyable. We cannot approach this penalty phase with a victor’s glee. Ours is an unfortunate task.”

He went on to say the Book of Discipline was based on the word of God. He said a pastor who violated the rules should be “openly rebuked that other pastors may fear to do the same … The penalty should be determined for the good of all.”
Personal testimony

The two people central to the trial, Schaefer and his son, Tim, both took the stand to talk about their lives and love for each other.

Tim Schaefer, who grew up as a “PK,” said he was always interested in law and in the church. He recalled attending at age 12 or 13 one of the church’s annual (regional) conferences.

At that point, he said, he was struggling with his sexuality and at the gathering heard such negative messages about homosexuality that he considered suicide.

“I remember crying and praying every night ‘God take this away from me. I don’t want to go to Hell and I don’t want to be a bad person,’” Tim Schaefer said.

He said he didn’t want to bring shame on his family so he didn’t talk to them. A friend’s mother called his parents to tell them their son was gay, in deep pain and considering suicide.

“There was a lot of crying and hugging and my parents held me and told me they loved and supported me,” Tim Schaefer said.

Today he is married and living outside of Boston attending a United Methodist church where he said he and his partner are loved and accepted.

Asking his father to perform his marriage was “the most difficult decision of my life,” Tim Schaefer said. He knew his father would be hurt if he didn’t ask him, but also know his father would putting his job in jeopardy by performing the service, he said.

Frank Schaefer testified that what he has gone through of late has changed him into a full-fledged gay rights advocate.

“I will minister to all people equally,” he said. “We as a church need to stop judging people, stop treating people as second-class Christians and that is going to be my message.”

Schaefer said someone had given him a rainbow stole and he asked Gwinn’s permission to wear it. Gwinn said he had ruled rainbow stoles were allowed in the courtroom.

Schaefer also addressed from the stand Watson’s testimony that he didn’t offer her pastoral care.

“Sometimes I have to refer people to trained counselors,” he said.

* Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for the young adult content team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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U.S. pastor found guilty in church trial for performing son’s gay marriage

  • U.S. pastor found guilty in church trial for performing son’s gay marriage

By Dave Warner | Reuters – Tue, Nov 19, 2013

SPRING CITY, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – A Pennsylvania pastor on trial by Methodist church officials for officiating at his son’s 2007 same-sex marriage ceremony was found guilty on Monday of violating church law and being disobedient.
Reverend Frank Schaefer, pastor of the Zion United Methodist church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, testified he had been conflicted about performing the ceremony, but chose to violate his denomination’s teachings out of love for his child.

The verdict came after an all-day hearing at a church camp near Spring City, Pennsylvania, and was delivered by the jury of nine men and four women.

Alfred Gwinn, a retired bishop who presided at the hearing, said there were at least nine votes for a guilty verdict, as dictated by church law.

“I did not want to make this a protest about the doctrine of the church,” Schaefer said at the opening of the trial. “I was ready to choose between my son and my career.”

Schaefer’s statement followed opening statements by a prosecutor and the defense before a presiding officer. His trial is the first of its kind since 2012 when the church’s governing body affirmed its stance that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings, according to an article on an official Methodist blog.

But it is at least the eighth trial in the past 20 years of a member of the clergy accused of violating church law by performing a same-sex marriage or by acknowledging being gay, the blog report said.

The United Methodist Church has some 12 million members worldwide.

Testifying against the pastor was Jon Boger, a member of his congregation who had complained about the wedding to the church hierarchy. “He kept it silent from the congregation. Nobody knew,” Boger said. “It was a lie and a broken covenant.”

Thirteen pastors are acting as the jury. Schaefer faces the possibility of reprimand, suspension or revocation of his ordination credentials if he is found guilty.

Outside the trial held in rural Pennsylvania, about 100 supporters were on hand to give Schaefer encouragement.
They unfurled a banner, several feet long, that read “We Are Open and Affirming” and had signs reading “Law or Love – Jesus Chose Love” and “Church trials are incompatible with Christian teaching.”

“We oppose the homophobic position of the United Methodist denomination,” said Reverend Hal Taussig of Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill United Church, which is affiliated with both the United Methodist and the United Church of Christ denominations.

Schaefer said he had informed a district church official that he officiated at the wedding that was held in Massachusetts, which in 2003 became the first U.S. state to permit gay marriage.

The jury will consider on Tuesday what penalty to levy against Schaefer for his role in the wedding of his son Tim and another man.

(Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Edith Honan and Eric Walsh)

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Ecumenical ties in Philippines assist aid efforts

  • Ecumenical ties in Philippines assist aid efforts

November 18, 2013
by Linda Bloom (From UMConnection)
By Linda Bloom*

The 50th anniversary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines originally was planned as a jubilee celebration. But the council, whose members include the United Methodist Church there, took a more somber tone Nov. 15 in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. “Instead of a grand celebration, we have transformed our commemoration into an act of solidarity with those who are suffering,” said the Rev. Rex RB Reyes, Jr. in a statement.
As with previous disasters, United Methodists in the Philippines also are working ecumenically with other faith partners to respond to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as TyphoonYolanda. The United Nations estimates that more than 13 million people overall have been affected.
UMCOR update

Volunteers and staff of the United Methodist Committee on Relief loaded a cargo truck with bright yellow bags filled with relief goods Nov. 17, ready to begin a 26-hour trek to typhoon-stricken communities in the central Philippines.
The van will be part of a caravan of three UMCOR vehicles carrying the vital supplies, staff, and a handful of the dozens of volunteers who showed up at the UMCOR Philippines office to load the truck.

UMCOR has granted a total of more than $180,000 US to its field operations in the Philippines to provide both fast relief assistance and long-term recovery and rehabilitation aid. To date, online donations to UMCOR through International Disaster Response Advance #982450 have totaled $820,000.
Relationship with UCCP

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, a 1948 union of various denominations including the former Philippine Methodist Church, is the largest Protestant denomination in Visayas, the area affected by the typhoon.

As an affiliated autonomous church with The United Methodist Church, the UCCP sends delegates to meetings of the United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body.

In a Nov. 14 conference call with representatives from various denominations in the U.S. and Canada, Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, UCCP’s top executive, said two major relief centers had been opened in Cebu City and Maasin as distribution points. He confirmed that many of their churches in the affected area had been destroyed.
“Tacloban remains the center of world media attention, but many areas are still unreached, especially on the West Visayas side,” he said. In Maasin, for example, “the food supply is getting scarce. There is massive hoarding. Even gasoline is getting scarce.”

On Nov. 17, when United Methodist Bishop Ciriaco Francisco preached at Cosmopolitan United Church in Melrose Park, Ill., concern arose over the number of UCCP congregations that had been affected by the typhoon. Some of the church’s members formerly belonged to that denomination, noted Aquilino “Pong” Javier Jr., a Cosmopolitan member and president of the National Federation of Asian-American United Methodists. Francisco said he would continue to talk with the UCCP area bishop, Jaime Morilles, about general assistance for typhoon relief, Javier reported. The two bishops were seminary classmates.

NCCP and ACT Alliance

At the NCCP compound in Manila, volunteers “are working day and night to repack goods to be transported to the affected areas.” The council is distributing food and water in Samar, one of the areas hit by the typhoon.

Bags of relief supplies gathered through the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the ACT Alliance are ready for shipping to typhoon survivors.
The NCCP is a member of ACT Alliance, a global network of churches and related organizations engaged in humanitarian work. The ACT Philippine Forum includes the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Christian Aid, Lutheran World Relief, Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation and Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz.

ACT has set up a coordination center at the NCCP offices in Manila. The organization reported Nov. 15 that 10 members are delivering emergency food, shelter, water and sanitation facilities in the central Visayas region.
Bethany Hospital

Originally built by the Presbyterian Church, Bethany Hospital in Tacloban is owned and operated by the UCCP. At Bethany, where chest-deep waters reached the hospital’s first flood, the supply of medicines was running low, the intensive care-unit “washed out” and patient care performed in makeshift fashion.
Marigza said Nov. 14 that the hospital basically had ceased to operate. Seawater entered the hospital, along with mud “and destroyed most of the equipment.” Patients were moved to another hospital or went home.

He was hoping for a delivery of cleaning equipment, such as axes, shovels and saws, so Bethany could at least erect an emergency space and a roof to begin to readmit patients.
‘Remarkable collaboration’

The Rev. Liberato Bautista, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, said he expects a “remarkable collaboration” among the various partners for typhoon relief.

The NCCP has been very active in disaster relief and many United Methodist young people have signed up for volunteer teams, he noted.
Recovery from some of those other disasters, including flooding and an earthquake, are continuing. Bautista pointed out that his sister, who lives in Manila, had just finished repairs on her roof in October from the typhoon that hit the capital city in July.

“You’re talking of news now where people are saying the rehabilitation of the Visayas area will take years,” he pointed out. “That is the same thing they said in July when there was a massive flooding in Manila and northern Philippines.

”It’s really the entire country, if you’re talking about the last 12 months, that’s reeling from disasters.”

  • *Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at http://twitter.com/umcscribe.or contact her at (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.
  • Support UMCOR’s relief and recovery work in the Philippines by contributing to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450
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