Dec 03, 2021

UPDATE: Churches aid disaster response during season of giving

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” –-1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Whether it’s “time, talent and treasure,” as cited in several biblical passages, or the “prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness” of The United Methodist Church’s membership vows, the sharing of God’s many gifts and merciful grace is key to the lives of faithful stewards. Indeed, 1 Peter 4:8-11 calls us to be deeply loving of one another, eager to extend hospitality and willing to serve others with all our gifts—and to do all of that with “the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

From Thanksgiving to Christmas and into a New Year, gratitude and generosity abound for true people of faith, especially for grateful disciples who wish to serve and emulate Jesus Christ by sharing his love with a world in need.

As we hear and sing the music of Christmas during this sacred season, we should also seek to “make music in the heart” by doing the “work of Christmas,” in the words of theologian Howard Thurman. That work might include helping congregations and their neighbors restore homes severely damaged by recent hurricane-caused storms.

United Methodists are sending donations to the Eastern PA Conference for its Disaster Response Fund to help neighbors recover from Hurricane Ida’s remnant storms that devastated a church and several communities in our area in early September. We received $32,780 in donations from individuals, churches and districts as of Nov. 30, plus a $10,000 grant from the UM Committee on Relief (UMCOR, which we support through our connectional giving).

Conference seeks donations, volunteers to help restore damaged homes

But that is only a start, and more is needed. You can support the conference Disaster Response Fund by visiting our Giving Page. Make checks payable to “Eastern PA Conference” and mail them to: Eastern PA Conference, Attn: Accounting, PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482. Write the name and fund number (Disaster Response Advance Special project #0345) on your check memo line. Or use our convenient Online Giving Page.

While some are giving directly to affected churches, the conference is raising funds and seeking grants to respond broadly to unmet needs and to support home restoration efforts with the help of hard-working teams of volunteers. The conference hopes to recruit and deploy more Volunteers in Mission this month to join already engaged Early Response Teams in Downingtown, who work along with volunteers from Hopewell UMC and the community.

“We have five houses that need foam board insulation installed and drywall hung,” reports Bob Simcox, EPAUMC Disaster Response Coordinator. “We also have more homes needing repair lined up in Coatesville. We have the materials and tools, but volunteers can also feel free to bring their own tools.” 

On Saturdays, Dec. 11 and 18, volunteers will meet again at Hopewell UMC’s community center, The Well, in Downingtown at 8 AM and leave for job sites at 8:30 AM. Hopewell will provide lunch back at The Well at noon. The workday typically ends at 3 PM. Interested persons can sign up here: Registration Signup link

Meanwhile, Otterbein UMC (left) in Mont Clare should be ready for volunteers in January 2022, when its electricity is finally restored and renovation can begin. And volunteer teams and restoration aid are still in Southwest Philadelphia’s often-neglected Eastwick community, where neighbors are still trying to recover from Hurricane Isaias that caused historic, destructive flooding there in August 2020.

Give time, talent, treasure to serve others for Christmas

“Please consider in this season of Advent giving your time as a gift for Christmas,” Simcox appealed. “Help your neighbors have a better Christmas. Bring a friend or two to assist in this good work we’re doing. You can bring hope, bring peace, bring love, bring joy. You can bring Christ.”

NEWSpirit will continue to highlight challenges and progress in all these communities as they journey the long road back to recovery. And we will continue to report on the faithful stewards who come to share their time, talents and treasure, so that “in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

UPDATE: Churches aid disaster response during season of giving

Several churches are contributing to the EPAUMC Disaster Response effort during this Advent and Christmas season. Lima UMC gave donations both to this conference Advance Special fund and directly to hard-hit Otterbein UMC in Mont Clare. Otterbein hopes to have electrical power restored by January then begin restoring stripped walls and floors in its “Mission Closet” and other rooms downstairs.

Messiah UMC in Lafayette Hill will dedicate funds from its Christmas Challenge this year to support conference disaster response efforts, according to the Rev. David Eckert, pastor. The church began the annual giving challenge about seven years ago, under former pastor the Rev. Tom Ebersole, as a way to encourage members to share their Christmas generosity beyond just family and friends.

Messiah will welcome members and neighbors to two worship services on Christmas Eve, at 6:00 nd 10:30 PM, where they will bless the offering, as the challenge draws to a successful close.

NEWSpirit would like to report on other churches’ Advent and Christmas giving or volunteering to help churches and communities recover from recent disasters, especially hurricanes. Please send information to, or use our Submit News web page.