NEW YORK, March 14, 2011 (GBGM)—United Methodist response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan will be closely coordinated with churches and church-related agencies in that country, which continues to reel as the death toll continues to rise.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is serving as the denomination's conduit for financial contributions. A request for an offering on March 20 is being made by the denomination's Council of Bishops. The Pacific Emergency Advance number is 3021317. One hundred percent of every Advance gift goes to the designated cause.
"Our emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation in Japan will involve our long-term mission partners with whom many of our missionaries and other mission personnel already work," said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, of which UMCOR is a part. "Japan is a highly developed nation, and we will depend heavily on our partners to help us focus our resources in areas of greatest need."
UMCOR is also investigating collaboration with Global Medic, an international organization with the capacity to provide emergency clean water in crisis situations.
All United Methodist mission personnel, missionaries, and volunteers were accounted for on the morning of March 13, but questions lingered over the possible implications of radiation from damaged nuclear reactors. Global Ministries gave all personnel permission to evacuate at their own choice. The agency has a total of almost 20 related professionals in Japan.
Virtually all United Methodist work in Japan relates to ecumenical partners, including the UCCJ, the Korean Christian Church in Japan, and the National Christian Council in Japan.
Reports from missionaries and mission partners continue to be received in an almost steady stream of email. Several reports indicate that new Wesley Center in Tokyo, related to United Methodist Women, was not damaged and is able to care for a group of now homeless people. However, the Asian Rural Institute, a major mission partner north of Tokyo, sustained considerable damage. Global Ministries uses the institution for the training of persons from Asia and Africa in sustainable agriculture.
The General Board of Global Ministries has received no requests from Japan for relief or other volunteers at this time.
Information on damage at church-related institutions remains preliminary. The Women's Division of Global Ministries relates to three universities or colleges in Japan through its Higher Education Initiative. Those are Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, Hiroshima Jogakuin University in Hiroshima, and Kwassui Women's College in Nagasaki.
Indirect reports from missionaries in Kwansei Gakuin, a school founded by Methodist Episcopal Church South missionaries, indicate that the situation in the area is stable.
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