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PC(USA) responds to south Asian disasters

Leaders appeal for prayers, PDA support in Indonesia, Samoa, Philippines

October 5, 2009

Louisville

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), is responding to a series of deadly disasters in south Asia — a typhoon in the Philippines, an earthquake in Indonesia, and a tsunami that has affected Somoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Church leaders — General Assembly Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow, General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director Linda Valentine — issued a letter late last week calling on Presbyterians to pray for those affected by the disasters and asking them to support PDA’s long-term relief efforts in the stricken areas.

PDA is also responding the widespread flooding in the southeastern U.S. in recent weeks in cooperation with the three most heavily affected presbyteries — Cherokee, Greater Atlanta and Norheast Georgia.

In south Asia, the church is working closely with global partners such as ACT International and Church World Service, as well as with PC(USA) partner churches in the affected countries.

PDA’s efforts are supported by the One Great Hour of Sharing offering and special appeals. Contributions may be made through local church channels or by clicking on PDA account number DR000148.

The full text of the letter from Reyes-Chow, Parsons and Valentine:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Anytime a disaster hits, whether it leaves a home burned, a community flooded or an entire island flattened, full recovery is a long-term process. We ask you now for churchwide call to prayer for all those affected by disasters, especially for those who — in just the past two weeks — have experienced flooding in the southeastern United States, a typhoon in the Philippines, earthquakes in Indonesia or earthquakes compounded by a tsunami in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, using funds from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, has already begun to respond, either directly to the presbyteries here in the United States or through our mission partners around the world.

This week alone two earthquakes rocked areas of Indonesia. In West Sumatra, more than 10,000 homes and businesses have been affected and 1,000 lives lost, with this count expected to rise. PDA has been in contact with our PC(USA) mission co-worker in Indonesia, Rebecca Young. Becca works with the Jakarta Theological Seminary and is also a PDA liaison for disaster situations that strike the region.

PDA is also working with our partners Yayasan Tanggul Bencana di Indonesia, Yakkumm Emergency Unit, Church World Service and Action by Churches Together (ACT). Once assessments of the damage are reported, we will have a better understanding of the funding needed for long-term recovery.

Typhoon Ketsana [locally known as Ondoy] hit the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam just days ago, with the Philippines being the worst affected. Mandatory evacuations have been issued, as a second typhoon is expected in a matter of days. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance will be supporting relief efforts through our mission partners, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and through a broader appeal by ACT.

A tsunami triggered by a massive earthquake has devastated Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga. More than 32,000 people are displaced, with the death toll rising daily. PDA has been in communication with CWS, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency as it relates to American Samoa. Once assessments begin to be reported, PDA will be ready to respond with funding.

And let us remember our brothers and sisters here in the southeastern U.S.  that experienced massive flooding last week. PDA is responding to needs in three presbyteries — Cherokee, Greater Atlanta and Northeast Georgia. 

Six PDA National Response Team members responded, and five are still on the ground assessing the damage and assisting with response coordination. Twelve churches in Greater Atlanta Presbytery have requested assistance. 

PDA has responded by sending $40,000: $10,000 to support the initial response by the presbytery for needs in the community and $30,000 as a fund for the presbytery to use in support of the 12 effected churches. In addition, $10,000 has been sent to Cherokee Presbytery to help with immediate relief and $10,000 is being sent to Northeast Georgia Presbytery. 

All of these funds have come from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. We take this opportunity to thank you for those gifts. PDA will continue to be in communication with these presbyteries and is prepared to respond to further requests.

We encourage you to pray for all those suffering from these tremendous natural disasters.  We anticipate large appeals for funding. If you are called to give, please do so through PDA account number DR000148.

Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, You are strength to those who suffer and comfort to those who grieve. Let the prayers of your children who are in trouble rise to you. We claim your promises of wholeness as we pray for those who are ill or are suffering loss and long for your healing touch. Make the weak strong, the sick healthy, the broken whole, and confirm those who serve them as agents of your love.

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