Responding to Wildfires across the Greater Northwest Area

Friends in the Greater Northwest Area,

United Methodist leaders from across our area have been meeting to monitor and respond to the wildfires ravaging our land and threatening many communities across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. People in many areas have evacuated or are preparing to evacuate from their homes. If you are not in immediate danger, you may be like many ­others who see and taste these wildfires in smoke-filled skies and with every breath we take.

People of faith want to do good in the face of danger, but we need to work to ensure that the good we intend does not accidentally do harm. Because of the massive evacuations being issued across our states, and because our churches and ministry settings are committed to doing no harm, doing good, and staying in love with God, an addendum has been added to the Reimagining Life Together guidelines for our church and ministry settings to guide United Methodist responses to the wild fire crisis.

As we seek to respond to these wildfires, I acknowledge how weary everyone is right now from these demands, on top of coronavirus, on top of dismantling racism, on top of escalating partisanship that is eroding our ability to work together for the common good. Amazing disaster response teams in the Greater Northwest Area act as the hands and feet of Jesus in communities across the area and in partnership with local churches. When a disaster strikes, survivors often lose so much – the roof over their heads and other property, livelihoods, even loved ones. These wildfires show how devastating these disasters can be. Yet this year it seems like one crisis erupts on top of the next.

And so, we call out to God, seeking mercy. Seeking relief. Seeking just one day when we do not feel danger near at hand and it doesn’t feel like the weight of the world is on each of our shoulders.

ADDENDUM to Reimagining Life Together for 2020 Northwest Wildfire Relief

Effective September 11, 2020

For Wildfire Relief only, this addendum supersedes the Disaster Response guidance in the Reimagining document.

Ministry settings planning to provide relief support in their communities will work with their District Superintendent (local churches) or Director of Connectional Ministries (other ministry settings) to discuss the community need and the request from a local government authority and/or established disaster response agencies (such as the Red Cross) for relief support.  District Superintendents or Directors of Connectional Ministry must approve plans to use church facilities for wildfire relief support activities.

Join me in praying for the safety of our friends and neighbors and for those who have already suffered loss of life. Join me in praying for the first responders and wild land firefighters putting themselves in harm’s way to help others seek shelter, save homes and property. Join me in praying for God’s good creation, that we may tend to her more carefully.

Join me, also, in a call to action through our gifts of financial resources. We know some of our communities have already been decimated by fire and know there are others in potential danger.

I am grateful to report that the Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Conferences have each received emergency grants of $10,000 from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to support response efforts. But it’s just a drop in the bucket of what will be needed.

In the Oregon-Idaho Conference, you can give online to the Conference Disaster Response Fund.

You can also give to the OR-ID Conference’s Disaster Response Fund (Fund #260) through your local church or by sending a check made out to the Oregon-Idaho Conference Treasurer with Conference Advance #260 on the memo line to:

Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Center
℅ Conference Treasurer
1505 SW 18th Avenue
Portland, Oregon, 97201-2524

In the Pacific Northwest Conference, you can give online to the Conference Disaster Response Fund.

You can also give PNW Conference’s Disaster Response Fund (Advance #352) through your local church or by sending a check made out to the PNW Conference Treasurer with Conference Advance #352 on the memo line to:

Pacific Northwest Conference Office
℅ Conference Treasurer
P.O. Box 13650
Des Moines, WA 98198 

Finally, local church leaders, please stay in touch with your District Superintendents if your community is impacted by wildfire. Let your superintendent know what is going on in your community and what your church is doing – or has been asked to do – in response. Your superintendent will coordinate with the conference disaster response coordinator to help support your work during this crisis.

Stay safe my friends, and know the steadfast love of God each day.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater Northwest Episcopal Area

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