Six years ago on Monday, August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina roared upon us, devastating 70,000 homes.

As our leaders entered the gathering of disaster response leaders from the Mississippi community of faith leaders, there was an audible sigh of relief. A voice spoke for the gathering, “We are relieved you are here. We cannot do this without the Methodists.”

United Methodists now comprise the only faith group continuing in recovery ministries on the coast of Mississippi. Through your generosity, in partnership with the generosity of the United Methodist connection:

  • More than 13,000 Mississippi families are back home;
  • 120 new homes have been constructed, making the UMC one of the top 10 MS homebuilders;
  • More than 172,000 volunteers have worked in our midst;
  • More than $124 million has been saved through volunteer labor;
  • Staffing, volunteers and recovery ministries will continue to be funded through mid-2012.

The United Methodist Church is unique in connection for mission. Recently, The Advance Committee, with global membership, met via the web (saving $15,000 in meeting expense) for continued attention to our life together in mission. Forty new Advance projects were approved for your support, including the Seth Mokitimi Theological Seminary in South Africa led by Ross Olivier, who served among us here in Mississippi. It was a joy to lead the meeting from the Episcopal Office here in Jackson. The Advance is the channel of giving to mission supported through your mission shares. Every gift goes 100 percent to the mission designated.

Gifts to Mississippi recovery – for Katrina and more recent tornadoes and floods – have come to us through the faithful, persistent participation of United Methodist people in The Advance. Our gifts for others continue to flow as you participate in mission through The Advance. Thank you for continuing to educate our churches about this most advantageous way of being in mission together in the world as we respond to those impacted by Hurricane Irene along the Atlantic seaboard.

I write my thanksgiving to you with an overflowing heart. Thank you for your prayers and your expressions of concern as Hurricane Irene threatened North Carolina and the Atlantic coast northward. While there was extensive damage in eastern North Carolina, my family is all safe and well and our property is not damaged beyond falling trees. United Methodists are responding once again, and we will continue to let you know of ways to assist the recovery.

With gratitude for your generosity,
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
Mississippi Area UMC