Communication from our Bishop regarding the earthquake in Chile

Please keep the people and communities affected by the earthquake in Chile and those affected by the resulting tsunami in prayer during your worship services tomorrow. Bishop Johnson is also requesting that our churches support the UMCOR response in Chile by taking up a special offering. Instructions for how to send in those contributions on your benevolence remittance form will be coming out by e-mail on Monday.

What follows is some preliminary news that has been posted on the United Methodist Committee on Relief web-site and their news links.

 ‘United Methodists were scrambling to respond to a massive earthquake that struck Chile early on Feb. 27 and prompted tsunami warnings across the Pacific region. The magnitude 8.8 earthquake, which hit about 60 miles northwest of the town of Chillán. 214 people are reported dead and numbers are expected to rise. According to news reports, at least three people were also swept into a large wave on an island 400 miles off the coast of Chile. Santiago, the capital, is 200 miles northeast of the epicenter. President Michelle Bachelet declared a “state of catastrophe” in central Chile, and the quake was felt in neighboring countries as far away as Brazil.

The Rev. Tom Hazelwood, an UMCOR emergency response executive, said the agency had exchanged e-mails with Juan Salazar, president of Ministerio Social Methodista in Chile, to offer assistance. He also was in touch with United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of Los Angeles regarding the tsunami warnings for Hawaii. Swenson is leader of the denomination’s California Pacific Annual (regional) Conference, which includes Hawaii.

A United Methodist volunteer-in-mission group from Wisconsin was thought to be in Chile when the earthquake occurred.

Hazelwood said the MethodistChurch in Chile will be better able to respond to the earthquake because of disaster training that he and Melissa Crutchfield, an UMCOR colleague, conducted there in October. The plan is to create a humanitarian response system in Chile in collaboration with UMCOR and the Chilean Oficina Nacional de Emergencia del Ministerio del Interior. “We have a great relationship with the people in Chile and the church in Chile,” Hazelwood added.’

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