Category Archives: Disaster Assistance

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

CWS Holding Disaster Recovery Training Days

Four “Disaster Recovery Training Days” to be held in Indiana

April 10, 2014 – Persons interested in helping Indiana communities rebuild and recover following last fall’s tornadoes and flooding – and from inevitable future disasters – are invited to attend one of four free “Disaster Recovery Training Days” to be held across Indiana in April and May.

The “Training Days” are being offered by the American Red Cross and will be held April 25 in Evansville, May 2 in Kokomo and May 3 in Indianapolis. Each day’s program will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Registration information follows.

“Government grants and loans and insurance payouts never cover all of disaster survivors’ rebuilding and recovery needs. To meet the many unmet needs that always remain truly takes an all-community effort,” said Susanne Gilmore of Manhattan, Kansas, an emergency response specialist with the humanitarian agency Church World Service.

The American Red Cross has asked Gilmore to lead the morning session of each “Training Day.” She will offer an orientation to long-term recovery, including needs assessment, the case management process, and construction and volunteer management.

After lunch, the American Red Cross will give an overview of the “Coordinated Assistance Network,” a helpful tool for community long-term recovery.

The “Training Days” are for anyone interested in helping in the recovery phase of disaster, including representatives of local civic, social service and faith-based organizations, American Red Cross volunteers, business leaders, long-term recovery group members, disaster case managers, emergency managers, government and non-profit agency program staff and other organizations active in disaster response.

Tornados last November destroyed at least 90 homes across Indiana, severely damaged 121 more, and caused minor damage to another 171. The state also suffered flooding in December, arctic cold in January, and three more tornados in February – “and now it’s spring. In the Midwest, the threat of tornados, severe storms and flooding is always there,” Gilmore said.

“Disaster Recovery Training Days” Dates and Registration

April 25 Evansville, IN – American Red Cross, 29 S. Stockwell Road
To register for the Evansville session contact Kara Horstman at (812) 471-7200 or email Scott Tibbetts.

April 26 Washington, INUPDATE: Cancelled

May 2 Kokomo, IN – Howard County Community Center, 120 E. Mulberry Street
To register for the Kokomo session call (765) 459-4162 or email Scott Tibbetts.

May 3 Indianapolis, IN – TBD
To register for the Indianapolis session call Brooke Riester at (317) 684-4381 or email Scott Tibbetts.

CWS is a member of NVOAD, the association of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, which will hold its 2014 conference May 13-15 at the J.W. Marriott, 10 S. West St., Indianapolis.

Media contacts:

Church World Service
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, and Carol Fouke-Mpoyo, 212-870-2728/646-258-8896

American Red Cross
Scott Tibbetts, 859-983-1246

Situation Report Update on Fall Tornadoes

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has heard from and is responding to all mid councils engaged in relief and recovery efforts following severe weather that swept through 14 Midwest states on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and straight line winds of more than 80 mph hit the middle Mississippi River Valley, the lower Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley. There were 91 tornadoes, 565 high wind events and 42 hail events, including reports of golf ball-sized hail, according to a preliminary report from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center.

The hardest hit of the 14 states was Illinois. Seven counties have been declared disaster areas by the governor, and six additional counties are listed as having sustained minor damage. Also affected were Michigan and Indiana. Six persons were reported killed in Illinois and three in Michigan.

PDA Response

At their requests, PDA has sent members of the National Response Team (NRT) to the Presbyteries of Wabash Valley and Great Rivers. We have also been in communication with the Presbyteries of Ohio Valley and Lake Michigan. One Great Hour of Sharing funds are being made available.

Damage assessment and initial rescue and response actions continue in the affected states.

PDA has received a notice from Church World Service that Cleanup Buckets are needed. The first 200 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets are on their way now to Illinois.

Church World Service (CWS) reports that in recent months, the demands have been great in the United States and across the globe for Gift of the Heart kits, and the CWS warehouse stocks of kits are rapidly being depleted. Additional kits, including Cleanup Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits, School Kits and Blankets are requested. The most immediate need is for Baby Care Kits and Emergency Cleanup Buckets.

Generous support to restock the warehouses will help enable a response to current and future needs of disaster survivors.

How You Can Help

You can stand in the GAP for those affected by these tornadoes and storms:

Give. Share your financial blessings by designating gifts to DR000015-Fall Tornadoes. Individuals may give through your local Presbyterian congregation, online, or by mailing a check to:

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

Act. Gift of the Heart kits are often needed following disasters. Because of generous participants in this ecumenical mission through out the year, kits are ready to be distributed immediately when a disaster strikes. Particularly needed following storms like these will be Cleanup Buckets to help families returning home to the daunting task of cleaning up. Find out how to assemble the Cleanup Buckets for United States responseand other kits for responses around the world.

Pray. Please pray that through the response of the faith community, the people and communities impacted by these storms and those offering assistance will be strengthened and reminded of the faithful hope that is found in Christ.

11/17/13 Midwest Storms

Dear Friends,

We have seen and heard the news of the tornadoes and straight line winds that caused significant damage in the Midwest yesterday afternoon and evening. We hold our Illinois sisters and brothers in prayer. The facebook page of the Presbytery of Great Rivers, with offices in Peoria (near the cities of Washington and Pekin, Illinois), shows a sobering photograph:

Our own Washington, Indiana, has also sustained significant damage, according to Governor Mike Pence. I have been in touch with the Rev. Cheryl Thorne (pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington) several times today. She reports that several homes on the west side of Washington have been flattened. She spent most of the day trying to account for all the families in her congregation, which she has been able to do. The Rev. Alan Finnan, pastor of Upper Indiana Church in Vincennes, reports that the tornado damage in south Knox County affected farmland, destroyed a barn and caused major damage to a home. At this point, the Presbytery will coordinate its resources through the sessions of congregations in the affected communities. We will be back in touch as these sessions and pastors ask us to.

This afternoon I joined a conference call with Indiana VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). Officials are still assessing the damage, and disaster relief organizations are getting in place. As is usually the case in the early days following a disaster, is is important that those who are not residents of the affected communities stay away. Volunteer sites will be set up when outside help is needed. Donations of clothing and other supplies are not needed, and often impinge on recovery efforts.

Those wishing to make financial contributions may give to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, or to the disaster relief fund of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley.

And prayers are always appreciated! Please do not underestimate the difference made by your heartfelt prayers and loving thoughts. And as we do so, we remember and affirm that in life and in death, and in all the circumstances of life, we belong to God. And we belong to each other. Thanks be to God for these blessed connections.

Peace and all good,
The Rev’d. Susan C. McGhee
Executive Presbyter
The Presbytery of Ohio Valley

Philippines Typhoon Haiyan

Philippines boy on cut off tree

PDA is responding to the Philippines in collaboration with our mission partner the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and fellow members of the ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance. An initial grant of $50,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing funds will help provide emergency food, water and other basic humanitarian needs to families affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan that struck the country on November 8.