Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) staff are working to respond to the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan March 10, killing unknown numbers of people and sending tsunami waves across the Pacific.
The PC(USA) has nine mission co-workers in various cities across Japan. By mid-day March 11 staff in Presbyterian World Mission had received word from four that they were safe. None of the mission workers are based close to the northern coastal city of Sendai, which has taken the brunt of the impact.
Denominational leaders have issued a call to prayer. The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk; Elder Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly; and Elder Linda Valentine, executive director of the General Assembly Mission Council are urging Presbyterians to pray for all those affected by the disaster — victims and their families, aid workers, faith communities and leaders.
“The magnitude of this kind of tragedy is difficult to grasp. Yet, our faith leads us to affirm that in even greater measure is the presence of God in the midst of the devastation,” states the call.
World Mission staff have also contacted all of the PC(USA)’s partner churches and organizations in Japan.
Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka is not damaged, but sent a message.
“… our heart aches as the earthquake disasters are spreading in other parts of Japan. We are praying for God’s protection and comfort over those people in the earthquake affected areas. He is our refuge and fortress.”
The 8.9-magnitude earthquake is the world’s fifth largest since 1900 and the biggest to hit Japan in 140 years.
The U.S. National Weather Service has issued a tsunami warning for at least 50 countries and territories, including those in Central and South America and parts of the United States.
“Presbyterian World Mission grieves at the loss of life from the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in at least 100 years,” reads the denomination’s Japan country webpage. The message urges readers “to pray for those who have lost loved ones in Japan. We also urge you to pray for people in other countries affected by the tsunami.”
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has set up a direct response account for donations. Individuals can give through their congregation, by calling PresbyTel at (800) 872-3283, on the secure PC(USA) website, or by sending a check to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
Gifts should be designated for account DR000117 — Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
The account gives PDA discretion to help all areas affected by the tsunami, said PDA coordinator Randy Ackley.
PDA is a member of ACT Alliance, an international coalition of churches working for humanitarian aid and development. ACT is reporting that the Pacific Islands are highly vulnerable and that most will be touched by tidal waves.
“We are deeply concerned about the most vulnerable countries and their people, and we are monitoring the situation closely so that ACT Alliance can direct its resources to where they are most needed, as quickly as possible,” said ACT general secretary John Nduna.
In the United States, PDA’s National Response Team is contacting potentially affected presbyteries on the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii to offer assistance.
PDA officials say they will continue to watch for needs as the disaster progresses.
Staff in the Office of Theology and Worship have gathered worship resources for Presbyterians to use in times of disaster.