Photos by Bishop Peggy Johnson, Rev. Michael Johnson, Joan Morton and Cindy Eickhoff.

More disaster response aid sought for Gilberton

The North District has reached its goal of collecting $5,000 in matching funds to help residents of Gilberton recover from a recent catastrophic flood. 

“The funds, received directly through the North District, along with the maximum of another $5,000 in matching funds from the district, will go to the Gilberton UMC for its discretion in meeting the needs of its neighbors,” said the Rev. Steve Morton, North District Superintendent.  

In addition, Eastern PA Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Bob Simcox recently received a requested $10,000 Solidarity Grant from UMCOR (UM Committee on Relief) to be used for “unmet needs”—that is, critical, immediate, human needs not met by the survivors themselves or by other emergency funding sources. The funds will be used to address unmet needs identified by the Schuylkill County Long-Term Recovery Committee. Simcox and Gilberton UMC leaders serve on that committee.

Members of Gilberton UMC, the town’s only church, are helping the disaster response effort onsite, while the conference Disaster Response Team is monitoring needs and the slow progress of recovery. A conference Early Response Team (ERT) and other UM volunteers spent the day in Gilberton June 20, about a week after the flood struck, assessing damages and needs, and listening to impacted residents and church members. (Read “Volunteers help Gilberton recover from flooding, but more aid is needed.”)

 From Left to Right: The Rev. Steve Morton, Bishop Peggy Johnson, and The Rev. Robert Schepple (Gilberton UMC’s pastor)

No further ERTs are scheduled to go there right now, said Simcox, who stays in touch with local leaders. But Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) teams from our conference and from neighboring Susquehanna Conference may head there when the time comes for renovating and restoring damaged homes.  

Meanwhile, Bishop Peggy Johnson will return to Gilberton UMC, where Robert Schepple is the pastor, on Sunday, July 19, for 9 AM worship. She will come bearing a gift: the total $10,000 check to Gilberton UMC from the North District.  She will also visit First UMC Mahanoy City for 10:15 AM worship. 

“It is basically a check up on how they are doing,” she said. “I want to ask about various people I met a few weeks ago. A visit there from a bishop is rare. But I just love going to churches; and the (less populated) North District is the safest, most open area for church gatherings for now.”

Bishop Johnson is asking churches and conference members to support local disaster recovery efforts through the North District appeal fund or through conference’s ongoing Disaster Response Fund, Advance Project #0345. Gifts sent to this fund should indicate Gilberton Flood Response.

NOTE: The Conference is also raising COVID-19 Disaster Response funds to help churches address needs and overcome challenges caused by the Coronarvirus pandemic. All gifts to the conference for any purpose should be sent to The Treasurer’s Office, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, UMC, P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482.