A volunteer group of Annual Conference delegates helps remove tornado debris from a field at Carney on May 29. Three disaster recovery projects were added to 11 hands-on Mission Opportunities that engaged delegates that afternoon in the Oklahoma City area.
Photo by Michael Wood
In May, tornado sirens screamed again and again in central Oklahoma.
"We are pushed hard from all sides, but we are not beaten down; we are bewildered, but that doesn’t make us lose hope; we all suffer, but God does not desert us; we are knocked down, but we are not knocked out." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. of the Oklahoma Area offered those Bible verses when he reached out to Oklahoma United Methodists on June 1.
He said, "The prophetic words of the Apostle Paul come to mind as we live in the aftermath of the tornadoes and flooding. The loss of life and devastation of property are constant reminders of how fragile we are and how quickly our world can be turned upside-down. As people of faith, we know there is no storm or wind or water that can destroy the foundation of our faith and hope, Jesus Christ! The people called United Methodists already are providing invaluable assistance in the places that have suffered loss, and we will be there as long as necessary."
The Oklahoma and Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conferences are partners in the disaster recovery work, which is expected to take at least two years.
The deadly storms on May 19-20 and May 30-June 1 seemed to bookend the Oklahoma UM Annual Conference on May 27-30.
One month later, the Church’s caring response for tornado and flooding survivors continued to flow in prayer, in person, and in gifts of money and practical aid.
As of June 19, total donations topped $1.04 million to the Oklahoma Conference special fund "2013 May Tornado Relief," according to the Treasurer’s Office.
On June 20, UMCOR reported donations of $1.33 million, received since May 20, to the U.S. Disater Response Advance. UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief also sent two truckloads of supplies to Oklahoma.
Updates about Oklahoma’s recovery efforts:
Facebook (Oklahoma United Methodist Communications)
Email mass messages
Volunteer to help in person, or request help, at: www.okumc.org/TornadoVolunteer
Watch for the fall issue of Contact, the Magazine, dedicated to UM disaster response ministry.