Category Archives: Disaster Assistance

Respond to the famine in South Sudan

From Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Stand with South Sudan

Nationwide famine and widespread violence with ethnic targeting in the world’s youngest country is resulting in the quiet death of South Sudan, and we are seeing it covered in very few news stories. The devastation is great. We must act now. Six million of our South Sudanese siblings, half of the country’s population, are struggling to find food and clean water, and 4 million have been displaced because of this complex disaster.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is funding large-scale emergency relief projects for South Sudanese displaced people and refugees, working through Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency, the humanitarian arm of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS). In addition to emergency relief projects, PDA is working to support livelihood and food security, peacebuilding and education for civil society. The ministries supported by the Peace & Global Witness Offering are providing ongoing advocacy and aid to those working for peace.

“We need your prayers and support in all ways, including advocacy,” said the Rev. Peter Gai Lual, PCOSS moderator. “It gives us strength and hope that we are standing as Christians together until we have peace.”

The needs for the response are great. God’s people are once again called on to stand in the “GAP”—Give. Act. Pray.


Financial support for famine relief efforts may be designated to DR000042. Gifts to support ongoing peacebuilding efforts may be designated to PG999999. Gifts may be made online, by phone at (800) 872-3283, or by check, which may be mailed to:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700


  • Download and use the bulletin insert,
  • Make sure your congregation is planning to receive the Peace & Global Witness Offering this
  • World Communion Sunday (Oct. 1). Learn more, and download resources.
  • Learn how you and your congregation can help and stay informed by liking us on Facebook, as well as downloading resources and sharing updates with your congregation.
  • Write to members of Congress and the secretary of state to share your concern about the crisis in South Sudan. Find resources online from the Office of Public Witness.


That in the heartbreak of all that has been lost by the people of South Sudan, our God of peace will, as Psalm 147 says, “Heal their broken hearts and bind up their wounds.” That the people will experience reconciliation and have courage to participate in peacebuilding, and that the government and those who are seeking to make a difference will be wise in their efforts to put an end to violence, allowing survivors to return to their homes, their fields and cattle, and their livelihoods. Click here for a prayer for South Sudan by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA coordinator.

Disaster Relief Project – 2017

– From Diane Kirkpatrick, Project Coordinator, Mid Kentucky Presbytery

Mid Kentucky Presbytery is again organizing a PDA disaster relief kit project to assist our neighbors in need.  Our goal is to assemble 1,000 + hygiene kits.  We invite the churches in southern Indiana to join us.

Last year’s project was a smashing success with enthusiastic evaluations asking that we do this good work again.  In 2017 we have found new partners – Proctor and Gamble toothbrushes thanks to the KY Dental Association, hygiene supplies from Supplies Over Seas, and the support of the National Council of Negro Women.

We are working on a free or deeply discounted van to transport the completed kits to the PDA storage facility in Arkansas. We have a volunteer to drive the van.  Should the free rental not pan out, Mid Kentucky Presbytery will cover the transportation costs. Last year we were able to delay the van’s departure to receive Indiana and a local church’s donations. This year we have a limited window for van free rental, so we need to keep to the project time frame.

We have set the project schedule to avoid Lent, Easter, and “Thunder over Louisville.” The drop off days for hygiene supplies and completed kits are Sunday, April 23, from 12:15 to 2:00 PM and Monday, April 24, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Strathmoor Presbyterian Church, corner of Bardstown Road and Hawthorne Avenue (). The church’s phone is 502-451-5185.

The volunteer work day to assemble kits is Saturday, April 29, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Completed kits will be packed and loaded into the truck for departure on the trip to Arkansas.

We learned last year:

  • Churches can expand their effectiveness by inviting scout troops and other groups who use their buildings to donate supplies.
  • Some churches prefer to assemble hygiene kits at their own locations so more of their people can participate. This is an excellent option.
  • 500+ bars of scented soap emit a strong fragrance, and the Strathmoor preschool children and members were affected negatively by it. We ask for unscented soap in 2017.
  • Churches with preschools like teaching compassion and making a difference by collecting supplies for the hygiene kits.
  • The PCUSA web page has Presbyterian Disaster Assistance posters and information churches can download for education and inspiration.
  • Presbyterian Women do a fantastic job in promoting and working on this project.
  • Youth groups like to assemble kits and do a good job. Children too with their parents nearby.
  • The April 29 kit assembly day goes more smoothly if we know how many volunteers to expect. If your church is coming, let Strathmoor know.

At this point the most needed items are unscented bath size bars of soap in original wrappers, one gallon zip lock bags, and wash cloths. We appreciate any hygiene supply donations.

Click here to download the info sheet for the 2017 disaster relief project. Feel free to adapt it to your churches’ needs. We invite and encourage you to join us in the mission project.

Thank you.

Presbyterian congregations continue work in communities impacted by water crises

Residents of Flint, Michigan and Hoosick Falls, New York remain cautious about the future

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

Desiree Lawson of Trinity United Presbyterian Church and Gail Farnham of PDA Disaster Response Team embrace in Flint, Mich. (Photo by Mike Fitzer)

LOUISVILLE – The past year has been a challenging one for communities dealing with contaminated water supplies. Flint, Michigan has garnered national attention for nearly three years after improper source treatment caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water. Between 6,000 and 12,000 residents have experienced a series of health problems including high levels of lead in the blood.

While millions of dollars have been pledged to replace the pipes, residents still hesitate to fully trust government to make good on its promise to clean up the water.

“Things are progressing slowly. For the average resident, it probably doesn’t feel like any progress at all,” said the Rev. Desiree Lawson, pastor of the Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Flint. “They’re still dealing with the water they don’t trust. City officials have urged residents to run tap water in their house faucets for five minutes a day saying the flow of water would help to eliminate anything that shouldn’t be in there.”

The city of Flint kicked off a Fast Start Program this summer and while the funds have been earmarked for repairs, the slow trickle of actual dollars has been frustrating.

“The program involves replacing lead pipes in homes that were most harmful to pregnant women and children,” said Lawson. “So far, 500 homes have had pipes replaced and the city is hoping to have another 800 completed this winter. But the issue of getting money in bits and pieces puts everything on delay. When we get $5 million in increments of the $25 million allocated, it delays the restoration process.”

Lawson says the people of Flint still rely heavily on bottled water for drinking, bathing and cooking and have begun to accept that they have been forgotten.

“It’s amazing how people can adjust to negative circumstances. When you have a list of things that you do everyday and on that ‘to do’ list is to get water, it sadly becomes normal,” she said. “They’ve made the adjustment.”

Lawson adds that Flint residents feel forgotten. “It just so happened that through the election, we were hot news. Every time we turned around, one of the presidential candidates was coming. But that’s died down now.”

Earlier this year, the Fresh Water Flint Committee began working with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) on a short documentary on the water issues. The plans are to show the finished piece at the Second Annual Fresh Water Flint Festival on April 22 during a citywide screening.

“We’ve made our first production trip and conducted a series of interviews,” said David Barnhart, PDA associate for story ministry. “I spoke with a father who was visibly shaken as he described having to repeat things over and over to his 10-year-old son, because his son didn’t understand.”

Experts say lead enters the body and can manifest itself in different ways, from developmental delays to behavioral issues and organ failure. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 men, women and children have lead in their system in the Flint area.

A social worker interviewed for the film said, “I once heard someone refer to the children who had been poisoned as ‘lead people,’ and it made me furious. We find a label for people and dehumanize them so that we can ignore injustice, and then conveniently move on with our lives. We, as a nation, cannot ignore what is happening in Flint.”

Lawson says Flint residents are cautious about getting too enthusiastic about 2017. “The angel said to Joseph, ‘Do not be afraid’ but we are afraid because of the uncertainty of what will happen. But the people are determined to get back on their feet and churches are coming together in a way that’s never happened before and it’s happening across denominational lines.”

“There are a lot of people that are seriously working and fighting for Flint because they believe it can be restored,” said Lawson. “If the money arrives and we get new pipes, hopefully, we can begin to trust again because now, there is a lack of trust.”

Two years ago, authorities discovered a known carcinogen, Perflorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) in Hoosick Falls, New York, a small community of approximately 3,500 people. PFOA was once used in the manufacturing of non stick coating such as Teflon. The source of the contamination was traced to a factory owned by Saint Gobain Performance Plastics, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Earlier this year, PDA deployed a National Response Team to meet with pastors and other church leaders after it was discovered that the contamination had reached municipal wells in addition to several private wells. But local church leaders now say progress is being made to clean up the water.

“Tests from a temporary water filter show that it is removing the PFOA or bringing it down to a safe level,” said the Rev. Donna Elia, pastor of First United Church Presbyterian. “City officials have been delayed in putting the permanent filter in but I understand that will happen in January.”

Even though the levels are down, Elia says blood tests are still being offered to people and bottled water is being given to those who want it.

“Kudos to PDA because we are the only denomination that came and responded. Because of that, other church leaders have had access to pastoral care and participated in long-term problem solving,” said Elia. “Our denomination became a focal point because PDA was there for us.”

Elia says the people of Hoosick Falls are resilient and have “sort of moved on.” It still concerns residents and they are watching out for their health and well-being, but it is not in the forefront of their daily lives now.

“The community wants to be known for its strength. People were glad the attention was placed on the problem but it’s time to move on,” she said. “There’s a movement called ‘Hoosick Rising’ and emphasis is being placed on the strength, resilience and sense of community.”

Elia says the water tests won’t show it, but people who have had blood tests do show elevated signs of PFOA. “Anywhere from 10 times to several hundred times the allowable amount. What we don’t know is whether that’s an indicator of future illness. That’s the great unknown.”

“As a country, we need to recognize that all of our water systems are vulnerable,” said Barnhart. “We need to work together to protect and value the source of life that it is.”


For more information on what PDA is doing in connection with the Flint water crisis, click here.

To read the original article on the Presbyterian Mission site, click here.

For more news articles, visit

Presbyterian Women Leadership Getaway and PDA Training



October 7 and 8, 2016

  • 9:00 – 4:00, October 7
  • 8:00 – 4:00, October 8

100 North Franklin Street
Danville, Illinois

Presbyterian Women Coordinating Team in the Presbytery of Ohio Valley is offering four $50 scholarships to this workshop and training on October 7 and 8.

Those women interested should complete the registration and application and send by email to Beth Snyder, or fax (502-569-5704) or mail to:

Beth Snyder
1004 Assembly Rd
Jeffersonville, IN 47130.

Lodging and meals are provided and PDA will reimburse mileage to Danville and back for this Oct  7, Friday/Oct 8, Saturday event.

Our goal is to have 4-6 trained PW-Disaster Preparedness trainers per presbytery. You do not have to be a member of a Presbyterian Women circle/group to attend.

Responding to the need in Ecuador and Japan

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance



“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.”—Psalm 46:1–2

Over the past week, the earth has shaken. On Saturday night the coast of Ecuador was rocked by an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. This came on the heels of two separate earthquakes in Japan, the first measuring 6.2 on the scale; the second, 7.0.

As aftershocks continue to threaten, more than 500 lives have already been lost. Thousands of other people have been injured, and communities lie in ruins.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is working in collaboration with our partner the ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance to respond to this crisis, providing support to those suffering in the aftermath. As our immediate response takes shape, PDA is also preparing for long-term support for both Ecuador and Japan. Long after the initial wave of relief recedes, PDA will remain to accompany the people of Ecuador and Japan as they rebuild their lives, walking the road out of this chaos with hope.

The needs for the response are great. God’s people are once again called on to stand in the GAP (Give/Act/Pray) to help survivors.

Donate now. Learn more: Get the PDA situation report.

Give: Share your financial blessings by designating gifts to DR999999–Disaster Relief–International Disasters and Emergencies. Gifts can be made online, by calling (800) 872-3283, or by mailing a check to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), PO Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. You can also text PDA to 20222 to donate $25.

Act: Stay informed: Subscribe to receive PDA Rapid Information Network emails to keep aware of current responses and urgent needs that you can share with your congregation, and like us on Facebook.

Pray: Please pray for those who suffered loss of loved ones and for those who are working tirelessly to provide rescue, humanitarian aid, and spiritual and psychological support.

Presbyterian Mission Agency, an agency of the Presbyterian Church
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202
800-728-7228 | 502-569-5000
Website | Email

PC(USA) News for April 13-19

Explore the stories that have been making news this week in the PC(USA):

Presbyterian Study Grant allows Princeton seminarians to explore call to ministry
PC(USA) financial aid program frees Dexter and Liz Kearny from anxiety of student debt

Ecumenical Advocacy Days policy plenary defines messages for advocates
Expanding voting rights, explaining Trans Pacific Partnership top agenda

More than 200 Presbyterians take part in CPJ Training Day
Conference theme addresses ‘Racism, Class and Power

Congregational Ministries Publishing debuts new online catalog
Congregational Ministries Publishing has gone digital.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance mobilizing to assist the people of Japan and Ecuador
Information is still coming in about the devastating effects of the earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is organizing a response to help sustain life and restore hope in the coming days.

Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day opens in Washington
Panel discussion takes up racism, class and power

PC(USA) seminary news
A compilation of news from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other seminaries

J. Herbert Nelson testifies before Senate committee
Addresses role of environmental policy on access to energy and economic opportunity

Regarding ruling elders: called as partners in Christ’s service
When I became a ruling elder, I recall the constitutional questions for ordination and installation that really resonated with me were those that speak to being partners in Christ’s service

Mid-Kentucky Presbytery aids PDA program via local service initiative
Essential hygiene kits assembled with help from congregations

Washburn named interim editor of Presbyterians Today
PC(USA) pastor and long-time PT contributor brings passion for communications

PC(USA) Mosaic of Peace conference visits Israel and Palestine
Group asked to accompany region’s Christians in their suffering and hope

Congregational Ministries Publishing taps Malinda Spencer
Experienced church educator called to promote and interpret PC(USA) curriculum

California PC(USA) church opens arms to Syrian congregation
Partnership welcomes ‘brothers and sisters’ in faith into community

From resiliency to water issues, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance discusses challenges
National Response Team annual meeting concludes after full agenda

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responds to Southeast coastal flooding

From the Presbyterian Mission Agency:

On either side of the river is the tree of life . . . and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:2)

The Southeast coast is experiencing severe and unprecedented flooding. At its height, more than 400 roads, 150 bridges and two major interstates (I-20 and I-95) were closed, isolating the communities that were most in need of comfort and assistance. South Carolina has borne the brunt of the devastation, enduring what has been described as a 1,000-year flood, and for some, more is still to come.

While South Carolina is the area most recently experiencing severe flooding, other parts of the country, including Texas, are still struggling to recover from massive floods that impacted multiple counties and left numerous Presbyterian churches damaged. As the rains finally subside in South Carolina and essential aid begins to arrive, we pray for a community of healing and hope for all those in the midst of this adversity.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is walking alongside impacted mid councils to bring God’s hope and healing to all affected by flooding. Gifts from One Great Hour of Sharing are helping Presbyterian congregations as they reach out to their affected communities to provide emergency provisions like water, food and other supplies to neighbors in need. Members of the PDA National Response Team have been helping with assessments, connecting with long-term recovery groups and serving as a present witness of the larger church during this difficult time.

You can join in the response and encourage those in need by standing in the “GAP”—Give. Act. Pray.

Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR000191 to help address the needs of those impacted by the flooding. Gifts can be made online, by phone at 800-872-3283 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST), or by check; mail to:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700


Pray for families impacted by flooding through loss of property and livelihood; for first responders and all others who put themselves in harm’s way to care for those impacted; that communities will work together and build stronger relationships and connections; for God’s sustaining grace through it all.

For more information, visit

Presbyterian Mission Agency, an agency of the Presbyterian Church
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202
800-728-7228 | 502-569-5000
Website | Email