Posted by: morgan1965 | January 27, 2010

UMCOR’s Ministry of Presence

As a United Methodist, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the United Methodist Committee on Relief [UMCOR]. UMCOR is the disaster relief agency of the UMC. It responds to emergencies in various places around the world, as well as in the United States.

Perhaps the American Red Cross is the most widely known relief agency in the world. The Red Cross might be better known than UMCOR from the perspective of public media and popular recognition. UMCOR’s record of excellence, however, ranks on a par with that of the Red Cross.

It is important to realize that UMCOR is more than a relief agency; it is a ministry of the United Methodist Church. This ministry is lodged under the umbrella of the General Board of Global Ministries, the mission agency of the UMC.

UMCOR practices a ministry of presence. I encountered this reality in a personal way while serving as the resident bishop of the New York Area in the aftermath of 911. The UMCOR staff made it clear to the leadership of the New York Conference that they would be present with us in New York for the long haul. In the practice of a ministry of presence, UMCOR strives to be present with people impacted by a disaster in the short term and the long term. The result of this practice often means that UMCOR workers are present in disaster areas long after other agencies have packed their bags and moved on to other arenas.

I also found this to be the case when the West Virginia Conference Cabinet work team visited Biloxi, Mississippi in July of 2008, three years after Hurricane Katrina had struck in August of 2008. UMCOR still had an office, near the local United Methodist Church, where they were continuing to do case management. UMCOR was maintaining a presence at that time because there was a need to do ministry among the people of Biloxi who still needed a helping hand.

The people of West Virginia are familiar with the ministry and mission work of UMCOR. When the state was hit hard by flooding, UMCOR was present with us.

In the midst of the recent earthquake in Haiti, UMCOR was about the ministry of presence. Several UMCOR staff members were in the nation grappling with the matter of appropriate relief steps in a nation gripped by poverty. While strategizing for a ministry of presence by UMCOR, Rev. Sam Dixon, the leader of UMCOR, died in the rubble of the Montana hotel which was devastated by the earthquake. Rev. Clinton Rabb also died as a result of injuries sustained in the earthquake. These two faithful servants lost their life while practicing a ministry of presence in Haiti. The UMC mourns the loss of these two dedicated UMCOR workers.

UMCOR is providing relief in Haiti on behalf of all United Methodist folk; they are able to engage in this ministry because of the monetary gifts that are given by UM people and other friends. Any person can contribute to UMCOR by going to, and donating to the Haiti Emergency. In this way, one is able to help in making a difference through a ministry of presence.


  1. Thanks Bishop for lifting up UMCOR. I had the privilege of working with Harry Haines when he was head of UMCor. I traveled with him to Africa and other places in the world. I am continually impressed by their presence at every disaster. And the best part is, when I give a dollar, I know all of it is going for relief. I am glad to be a UM and be able to work with an agency like UMCor. Your words were most welcome.

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