An Invitation from the Week of Compassion Staff

“A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien . . .” (Deuteronomy 26:5)

It’s one of the oldest confessions of faith in the vast collection of texts we name as scripture, and at its root is a story of migration. From the time Abraham stepped out in faith, our story of faith has been one of wanderers, migrants, slaves, tenant farmers, traders, evangelists, refugees, entrepreneurs--some legendary, others nameless, speaking a mishmash of languages, and crossing borders, sometimes invited, other times not.

But the stories of scripture are not the only sacred stories in our tradition. There are others. Stories of the lives of young men and women packed into boats and sent across the horrendous middle passage, stories of children torn from their parents escaping political violence in Central America or ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, stories of people packing into a coyote’s van, marching across the Arizona desert, hoping for new opportunity, dying of thirst and exhaustion. And, of course, where would the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) be had the Campbells not made their way across the Atlantic and stayed on the move, following the frontier of a young United States?

Interwoven into the ministry of Week of Compassion is a concern for our wandering brothers and sisters. Refugees, those displaced by natural or human disasters, those forced to move because of economic disparity. We hear the sacred stories of this part of our family almost every day. We, along with you, are called to respond. But how?

At Week of Compassion, we truly believe that we are a church made up of people who deeply love their neighbors, who deeply love their country, and who deeply long to understand one another. That’s why we want to invite you to participate in a sacred dialogue on immigration. As a Church, we are inviting all U.S. Disciples congregations to set aside some time around Columbus Day this year (October 12) to have conversations on immigration. Whatever the political positions of members of your congregation, it is important to come together as the body of Christ to have conversations with one another on this important issue that deeply affects the life and ministry of our denomination. If your congregation is unable to have these conversations in October, please find another time this year that works for you. Canadian Disciples, who celebrate Thanksgiving on October 11, are encouraged to include a prayer for immigrants to Canada during their celebrations that day. Disciples from the U.S. and Canada live in a nation of immigrants, and we live as a church of immigrants. It’s who we’ve always been and who we are today.

Please join in this important dialogue—and dare to wander with one another through one of the most important issues we face. Information and resources are available at www.disciples.org/RIM.

Help stop violence against women and girls worldwide

Urge Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act of 2010.

For more information, click here

This Week’s Responses 

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Tennessee, flood relief/mission station support
Iowa, flood relief

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Asian Pacific, energy-saving project
Serbia, food security

A Week of Suffering – A Week of Compassion

This has been a season of tremendous suffering as we witness the ongoing heartache of the devastating floods in Pakistan; wildfires in Colorado; ongoing turmoil in Darfur and Eastern Congo; needs that continue to emerge as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf Coast; and hardship for those in Nashville and Middle Tennessee who are just now able to begin long-term recovery efforts. A time of suffering, but a time, also, of compassion. 

In every case, we have been there. We respond. Thanks to our long-standing, trustworthy and close partnerships with implementing organizations Church World Service, the ACT Alliance, Disciples Volunteering of Disciples Home Missions, and through communication and coordination with our Global Ministries partners and councils of churches, we know what is needed when the disaster strikes. And we respond accordingly. Immediately. Efficiently. Effectively. This is what we do. This is what YOU do. Together, as Church, we turn a week of suffering into a Week of Compassion. 

“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 

Disciples, we have seen. We see. Let us always take care. And let us continue to care for so many who are just now beginning the process of recovery and healing. We’re in it for the long haul.  Committing to caring for the journey – that is what we do, together. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your compassion and contributions.  

Compassion Leads to Reconciliation Which Leads to Wholeness

Just as we are responding on a daily basis (sometimes multiple times a day) to human suffering in the world, our Reconciliation Ministry is also working, each and every day, to respond to a world fragmented by racism. As an act of compassion this World Communion Sunday, Week of Compassion invites you to participate in the 2010 Reconciliation Ministry Special Offering. This special offering will be received September 26th and on October 3rd, which is World Communion Sunday.

According to April Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation, our dear colleague and member of the WoC Advisory Committee, “The Reconciliation Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) advances the church’s journey toward wholeness by empowering each expression of the Church to implement structural change to address historic fractures caused by racism. It is the shared goal of our work to foster life-giving community within our Church and in relationship with the whole family of God.” The Reconciliation Offering supports grant and education programs that deepen our self- understanding as people of the Table where we remember Christ’s call for us to be reconciled one to another and ALL to God. 

As we all gather at the table of our Lord, celebrating our unity in Christ, my prayer is that we can truly celebrate the healing we find there. I am always comforted when I approach the Communion table – as broken and weary as I often feel – that only broken bread can be shared. Only that which is not whole – fragmented – divided – separated – broken – can be truly shared. So we all come, each of us broken in some way, to find wholeness, healing and unity. For me, this is also where we experience compassion. We find compassion at a table hosted by Jesus Christ himself, who offers us the gift of suffering with us and, at the same time, offers us the ultimate gift of His healing. In turn, we extend compassion to all our brothers and sisters. In so doing, we become reconciled. 

Might we, Disciples, partake of the Lord’s Supper on this World Communion Sunday as an act of compassion and as an act of reconciliation? Might we take seriously our commitment, as a Church, to become a courageously compassionate, pro-reconciling, anti-racist, whole Church? We will all be invited on September 26 and October 3 to make our offerings to Reconciliation Ministry. I urge you to accept the invitation, knowing that it is both an act of compassion and an act of reconciliation. We’re all in this together. We’ve all been invited to Christ’s Table. For we are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world! As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the table as God has first welcomed us. See you there on Sunday.

Weekly Update

Video from the Ecumenical Build in Cedar Rapids, IA

This spring, people of faith, including several Disciples churches, came from across the country to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to help with continued recovery efforts from severe flooding in 2008. Our colleagues at Lutheran Disaster Response put together this brief video to show what we accomplished together in Cedar Rapids.

Click here to watch the video.

Calling All Volunteers! It’s time to go to Nashville!

Disciples Volunteering is now calling for Volunteers and Mission Teams to help. While May seems like a long time ago, the reality for many people is that this recovery is only just beginning. Disciples Volunteering is committed to being present for the long haul. Volunteers are needed for 6 weeks this fall, between October 10 and November 20.

For more details, including registration info, click here.

Quake strained Haiti’s already ailing food system

“This is green, lithe, quiet country, and if for no other reason, its seeming peace can be a balm for those seeking relief from the Haitian capital’s congestion and chaos.

But today, more than a half year after the quake, this region’s problems are emblematic of the long-term challenges Haiti faces as it tries to recover from not only the Jan. 12 earthquake, but from what Scott Campbell of Catholic Relief Services calls a “structural disaster that has been there for years.”

Church World Service writer Chris Herlinger updates us about Haiti’s food security in the wake of the January earthquake. For more, click here.

Climate Change: a Lesson from Pop Culture

What can the hit show “Glee” tell us about climate change and interfaith dialogue? Mallory Mcduff, who teaches Environmental Studies at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, explores the connections.

It’s More than Fair, It’s an Equal Exchange

Following the Fair Trade Futures Conference in Boston, Brandon and many of our ecumenical colleagues involved in Equal Exchange’s Interfaith program visited Equal Exchange Headquarters to learn about their cooperative business model, discuss the future of the fair trade movement, and enjoy some of their incredible Fair Trade coffee, chocolate, and tea. Through the Disciples Coffee Project, farmers receive fair prices for their crops, affordable credit and long term trade relationships with a trading partner they can trust, Equal Exchange. In addition, for every pound of fairly traded products Disciples order through the Project, Equal Exchange makes a donation to the Disciples Hunger Relief and Food Security Fund. Do you serve Equal Exchange coffee at your church? Have you tried their new caramel crunch chocolate with sea salt? If you’re intrigued, check out the Disciples Coffee Project here.

This Week's Responses

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Texas, flood relief
Pakistan, flood relief
Tennessee, flood relief
U.S./Appalachia Region, emergency heating needs
DR Congo, medical needs

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Former Yugoslavia, women's economic and social development
Bosnia and Herzegovina,women's economic development cooperative
Balkans, interreligious dialogue and peace-building
DR Congo, women's microcredit project

Read More

Nashville: The Recovery Is Just Beginning

It’s time to head to Nashville! Mission stations to help with flood recovery needs are being set up as you are reading this, and YOU are invited to help. Josh Baird of Disciples Volunteering offered us this exciting announcement:

In early May, several days of rain culminated in massive flooding across middle and western Tennessee. Waters across the state rose to record heights, leading more than half of the counties in Tennessee to be declared federal disaster areas. In Nashville alone, nearly 60,000 households registered for FEMA assistance following the flood. Neighbors and friends pulled together quickly to ensure that most flooded homes were mucked and gutted.

Over the next several months, people waded through the processes required by FEMA or their insurance companies; too many completed that journey only to find themselves without the resources to cover their needs. Disciples Volunteering, in partnership with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tennessee  and supported by your Week of Compassion offerings, is now calling for volunteers and mission teams to help. For many people in the disaster-affected areas, long-term recovery can now begin.

Disciples Volunteering is committed to work for the long haul in Nashville. We want to start by putting our best foot forward: volunteers are needed for 6 weeks this fall, between October 10 and November 20. We will also start scheduling mission teams for next spring and summer very soon. There is much work to do, and you are an important part of that work!

Our Nashville Mission Station can accommodate up to 15 people. We welcome volunteers who are at least 14 years old; youth groups must have at least one adult for every five youth. To find out how you can help, or to register your congregation for a mission trip, visit the Disciples Volunteering website or call Brenda Tyler at Disciples Home Missions, 888-346-2631.

Partnerships: Around the World, Around the Year

We are so grateful for the work that Josh, Carl, and Brenda, and everyone who volunteers through Disciples Volunteering do together. This is a great way to get involved, and your contributions to Week of Compassion help make that work happen. We could not do any of our work without you! 

Please remember, too, that there are many other places affected by hunger, extreme poverty, and horrendous disaster where you can help through Week of Compassion partners.

You can:

As the Church, we believe that we are a community of many gifts brought together with a common call to reach out with the love of Christ. These are but a few of the opportunities to reach out in partnership with Week of Compassion. It is a privilege to call you partners in ministry, and for this opportunity, we give great thanks to the one who calls us!  Thanks be to God!

China Mudslide Recovery Continues

In early August, Week of Compassion responded to mudslides in the Gansu Province in China, through our participation in the ACT Alliance. The following update was provided by the Amity Foundation, Week of Compassion’s primary partner in China. Thank you, as always, for your commitment to responding to disasters all over the world.

Time moves on, yet the Amity Foundation continued to work with the local partners to provide assistance to victims of August 8th mudslide in Zhouqu, Gansu Province.
 
Though much aid has made its way to the people who need it, we remember the victims who lost their lives in the landslide in Gansu and the rescue and relief workers who are still on the sites, especially as we approach the traditional Chinese mid-autumn festival in two weeks time, an important day for families to celebrate together.

Yueyuan Village was leveled by the mudslide, and few villagers survived. Li Yanping, a woman who narrowly escaped, clothed only in a worn T-shirt expressed her great gratitude to Amity, which provided survivors with clothing following the mudslide.
 
In the weeks that followed Amity continued to dispatch rescue crews and relief materials to the affected areas, delivering supplies to 660 households. Items distributed to affected families included rice, flour, oil, winter coats, towels, and a set of stoves and cookers. Many families also received medical attention.
 
Thanks to all our friends and partners who have given support to people at the grassroots level through Amity and partners.
 
She Hongyu is  Assistant General Secretary and Director, Research & Development Centre of the Amity Foundation.

PAKISTAN: As Ramadan Ends, Our Response Continues

Over the last few weeks, Disciples congregations have responded generously to needs in Pakistan. There remains much to be done. Church World Service provides this update:

A CWS medical team member treats a flood survivor wih a seriousskin lesion. Photo: Chris Herlinger/CWSIn the past week, as the Ramadan season neared its end and as Pakistani Muslims prepared to celebrate the holiday of Eid, Week of Compassion partner Church World Service provided medical care for hundreds through its mobile health units. CWS also distributed food packages to dozens of flood-affected families.

“This is the only health care we receive,” said Mohammad Khalid, one of dozens of patients able to see a physician from the CWS program in the flood-affected village of Mohandari.

Meanwhile, in another locale, CWS project officer Imran Munir noted that “there is security in food” as a distribution for flood-affected families got underway last Saturday. Among the food items distributed:  rice, wheat flour, sugar and tea.

In one village, 72-year-old farm laborer Noor Paras, who had already received one of the CWS food packages, praised the response of Church World Service and its partners to the floods and described the food packages he and his family received “as a gift from God.”

But needs remain dire in Pakistan, given the potential for the spread of infectious diseases and wide-spread food shortages, said Dr. Qamar Zaman, a medical coordinator for CWS. He stressed the need for continued support for humanitarian work in Pakistan, noting that “health care is a basic human right.”

He added: “We're grateful for the international community that thinks of Pakistanis as their brothers and sisters.”

Chris Herlinger covers international emergencies for the humanitarian agency Church World Service and is a New York-based freelance journalist.

We give thanks for each of you, members of a church that dares to reach out and treat those people affected by disaster—people you may have never met—as brothers and sisters. The needs remain considerable—health care, food, and other basics. Please continue to reach out, so that we can respond with compassion and hope. Thank you for all that you have done, not just as partners, but as family. 

Weekly Roundup

Wine to Water: Water for All

Week of Compassion now has a resource page for congregations interested in holding a “Wine to Water” fundraiser for water projects in regions such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Projects for funding, stories from Wine to Water events, and contact information is available here.

“Nine Thousand Nights: Refugees from Burma, A Peoples’ Scrapbook”
 
In remote “bamboo cities” ringed by deep forests and high mountains on the western edge of Thailand, refugees from Burma have lived their lives in refugee camps for more than 25 years – nine thousand nights. In this new book, the refugees and others share personal memories of their inspiring and extraordinary times. The book includes photos and information from Jennifer Riggs, Director of Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM), who was part of a Church World Service delegation to the Thai/Burma border in 1992. RIM is a program of Disciples Home Missions funded by your Week of Compassion offerings.
 
Learn more   

Giving in Pakistan

After the Haiti earthquake, about 3.1 million Americans using mobile phones donated $10 each to the Red Cross, raising about $31 million. A similar campaign to raise contributions for Pakistan produced only about $10,000. The amount of funding donated per person affected by the 2004 tsunami was $1249.80, and for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, $1087.33. Even for the Pakistan earthquake of 2005, funding per affected person was $388.33. Thus far, for those affected by the 2010 floods, it is $16.36 per person.

Read More Here

A Nashvillian Reflects on Preparing for Disaster:

Read On

If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise

Four years ago Spike Lee took his cameras to New Orleans to document the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as told by the people still dealing with its calamitous effects. The film Mr. Lee returned with was “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” As the fifth anniversary of Katrina approached, Mr. Lee went back to New Orleans this year, hoping to tell the story of that city’s recovery and rejuvenation. 

Instead, his new documentary, “If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise,” ended up with a tone that is largely and eerily similar to its predecessor. For an interview with Lee, click here.

This Week’s Responses
 
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Arkansas, house fire
Iowa (2), flood relief
DR Congo, wildfires
Zimbabwe, medical needs

Mighty Waters: Remembering

“Your way was through the sea,
 your path, through the mighty waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
 You led your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron”

  --Psalm 77:19-20


It has been a weekend of remembrance. Five years ago, Hurricanes Katrina, soon followed by Rita and Ike, swept into the Gulf Coast, altering how we look at that region, our country, and ourselves.

More than that, it changed how we look at ourselves as a Church. Through the Disciples Hurricane Recovery Initiative (DHRI), a partnership among Week of Compassion, Disciples Home Missions/Disciples Volunteering, the Great River Region, the Southwest Region, and so many of you who donated your time, skills, and resources, we were able to respond in a way that was unprecedented in the life of our church.

Since the DHRI began, more than 11,000 volunteers have made their way to the Gulf Coast to help with recovery and rebuilding, contributing more than 437,000 hours of labor and building the equivalent of at least 175 homes. Countless lives have been changed.

In Psalm 77, the writer recounts the escape from Egypt, and imagines the Israelites crossing the Sea of Reeds. In the ancient world, water was often associated with chaos, something that those of us who have seen the destruction brought on by a hurricane, whether personally or via a media report, can surely relate to. But the Psalmist remembers that it is God—the liberator, the protector, the parent of humanity—who brings the freed slaves through the dangerous water, with the help of Moses and Aaron, the prophet and priest (other versions of this story, such as in Exodus, emphasize the prophetic leadership of Miriam, Moses’ sister, too).

It strikes us, on this anniversary of such devastation, that we are perhaps a church full of Miriams, Moseses, and Aarons. It has been God’s sacred work to lead the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Gulf Coast, to “trouble the water,” as is sung in the spiritual, but it has been the people of this church—all those who have given—who have been the prophetic and priestly partners in this work. 

It has been you who have worked to turn tragedy into a miracle . . .and this work continues! 

Disciples volunteers will be putting the finishing touches on the rebuild of Northwood Christian Church, Beaumont, TX, a church that, despite totally losing its sanctuary, has practiced a powerful ministry of hospitality for groups wanting to aid in recovery efforts. Disciples volunteers remain “the only game in town” in Lake Charles, LA, as First Christian Church continues to live out its ministry of relief and recovery.

We also remain committed to those who are facing the chaos of water across the country, and all over the world. So many of you have given to help the people whose lives have been affected by flooding in Pakistan. Likewise, neighborhoods in Nashville and communities around Des Moines, Iowa, are still struggling with serious flood damage. We are also in the middle of hurricane season, and are carefully watching Hurricane Earl to see what sort of threat it might bring. We urge you to continue partnering with us—whether it is through a designated gift to relief in Pakistan, or an undesignated gift that will help us respond nimbly and quickly should a hurricane touch shore.

Through your leadership, we continue to make a difference in communities affected by disasters. It is your hands that lead us, and for that, we are incredibly grateful. 

Making a Difference in the Lives of Pakistanis

How much more can the people of Pakistan handle? I can practically hear them crying out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” The flooding in Pakistan has been absolutely devastating; beyond what anyone anticipated. The scope of the flooding, as illustrated by this online tool, is incredible, and the damage done by the rising waters will take years—if not decades—from which to recover. Our hearts ache for our sisters and brothers in Pakistan. 

As always, Week of Compassion is there—thanks to you. Your gifts are already at work in Pakistan, channeled through our ecumenical partner organizations, Church World Service and the member agencies of the ACT Alliance, doing all we can to respond to this overwhelming disaster. And we will continue to work non-stop to provide aid to those in need. Our colleagues in the CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan Office have produced this short video highlighting the needs in Pakistan so you might get a closer look at the situation on the ground:

Click to watch the video below:

Click here to download video file (190 MB)

Pakistan Flood

 

 

 

We invite you to continue to help us make a difference in the lives of the people of Pakistan. Please partner with us to make a difference. 100% of your designated gift to Pakistan flood relief will be immediately directed to relief efforts there.

Pakistan faces a desperate situation. Your partnership, your faith, your Courageous Compassion go a long way in helping the healing begin. Thank you so much for your support! 

Pakistan Floods Are Beyond Devastating

While flooding continues to wreak havoc in Pakistan, the world has been slow to understand how vast the needs emerging from this crisis are, much less respond.

While the international community has so far committed close to US$229.5 million in support and another US$142 million in additional pledges, those pledge amounts alone are insufficient to cover even the initial three-month relief needs outlined by the United Nations, says Donna Derr, Director of Humanitarian Assistance for Church World Service.

“Thankfully the flood’s death toll has remained relatively low, but disasters can’t be measured by just the number of dead,” says Derr. “Effective humanitarian response must be measured against the number of people affected, just struggling to survive.”

The initial UN plan calls for US$460 million. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, which Week of Compassion supports through our partnership with CWS, calls on government and private sources to dramatically increase funding in order to save lives.

Pakistan’s already weak social services may crumble without adequate and immediate help now. Millions of Pakistanis risk sinking deeper into chronic poverty for the next generation, compromising human rights and basic needs.

Week of Compassion partners are on the ground in Pakistan, providing food, shelter, and health care to affected areas. There is still much to be done. The severity of the flooding in Pakistan cannot be underscored enough: This is as big a humanitarian crisis as the 2004 Tsunami—if not bigger. If you would like to help, please continue to keep the people of Pakistan in your prayers and consider contributing to the response.

Flash Flooding in Iowa and Tennessee

Closer to home, communities across Iowa and Tennessee have been affected by flash flooding. Through Week of Compassion, you have helped us to respond to the needs of families in Disciples congregations in Des Moines, Ames, and Colfax, Iowa. We are continuing to monitor the situation in Middle Tennessee, and will respond as we hear of needs.

We are grateful, as always, for your willingness to help out people whose names you will likely never know. Your partnership with our churches in the Midwest and villages in remote areas of Pakistan proves what it means to reach out with Courageous Compassion.

Thanks be to God!

This Week's Responses

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Iowa (4), flood relief
India, flood relief

Weekly Roundup

Katrina: Five Years Later

Five years after Hurricane Katrina broke the levees and New Orleans was flooded, the city's health is much improved. But like many patients still in recovery, New Orleans has its good days and its bad days.

For more of this story, click here.

Disciples' Efforts in the Gulf

Check out the work being done by Disciples Volunteering and Westside Mission Station.

Bread For the World Sunday

This fall, thousands of churches and faith communities will renew their commitment to end hunger by celebrating Bread for the World Sunday. Encourage your church to take part on October 17 or another Sunday in the fall.

Bread for the World resources are available here.

Ramadan Begins in Flood-Stricken Pakistan

Pakistani flood survivors already short on food and water have begun the fasting month of Ramadan, a normally festive, social time marked this year by misery and an uncertain future.

For more, click here.

Resilience Tested in Pakistan; Grief in Afghanistan

In the five years since the 2005 earthquake devastated parts of Pakistan, not one year has gone by in which the people of Pakistan have not suffered from disaster. The years 2006 and 2007 brought floods; although not even close to the destruction brought by this year's flooding, people still lost their lives, homes, crops and livestock.

In 2008, a powerful earthquake rendered thousands homeless at the onset of winter. In 2009, millions of people were displaced by the conflict between the Pakistan military and militants.

Throughout these years, severe drought and water shortages plagued the agricultural communities, which constantly live with the reality of food insecurity. Now, 2010 -- a year that was supposed to be a time of new beginnings and the continued road to recovery following previous disasters -- has turned into a record-breaking year for flood destruction throughout the entire country.

Resilient is a word often used to describe the people of Pakistan, but this cycle of loss and destruction is truly testing this attribute. Thousands of people have been living in pre-fabricated shelters while trying to regain their lives and livelihoods lost five years ago.

Now, displaced persons once again find themselves without homes and property. Farmers who were already struggling with food insecurity have lost, or may lose, this year's harvest, pushing them farther away from achieving food security for their families.
 
Donations for Pakistan Flood Relief are needed and welcomed, and may be made online or by check to WoC, PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206.

(Many thanks to Chris Herlinger, Church World Service, for this story. The photo was taken by Mohd. Younus, August 4, 2010, at the hospital at Balakot - thanks to him as well.)

Grieving with IAM

We grieve with our Global Ministries and ecumenical partner, the International Assistance Mission, over the murder of 10 aid workers in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. The medical team, made up of both Afghans and Internationals, had been in the Nuristan province at the invitation of communities there. After completing their work, the team was returning to Kabul. 

A moving profile of the aid workers appears here. For more information about IAM’s program in Afghanistan, please follow this link.

We keep the families of the aid workers, their colleagues, and the brave, generous work of IAM in our prayers. Friends such as these, committed to the world’s poor and vulnerable, help us live out our commitment to Courageous Compassion. They exemplify the best of the Church, and remind us of the way you, as members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), have called upon Week of Compassion to help facilitate your commitment to work for wholeness. We give thanks to God for the ways you reach out in times of senseless violence, natural disaster, and hopelessness.

We give thanks for all you bring of yourself to this commitment, and all you give.

Weekly Roundup

Pakistan Needs Our Help after the Worst Floods in 80 Years

For an update on how your gifts to Week of Compassion are helping to respond to this humanitarian crisis, click on the following link from our implementing partners in the ACT Alliance.

Read More 


Haiti: The Long Road to Recovery: Some Close-Ups

In northern Haiti, members of a community-based group began a feeding program for those displaced by the January 12 earthquake. In the southern coastal city of Jacmel, a group of disaster survivors banded together and moved onto the grounds of a local church. And in Port-au-Prince, a woman who gave birth to her infant son twelve days after the quake wondered what she would do next.

Read More


Venezuelan & Colombian Refugees and Internally Displaced Curriculum

Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM) has prepared a curriculum on Venezuelan and Colombian refugees and internally displaced persons for use by Disciples Women’s groups this summer and fall.  This online curriculum includes study, worship, and service material.  RIM is a program of Disciples Home Missions supported by your Week of Compassion offerings.

Read More 


Films as Discussion Tools on Immigration

“REEL Images of Immigration: A Film Guide to Discussing Faith and Immigration” highlights four films on immigration issues and provides discussion questions and theological reflection for small groups.  These films expose the brokenness of our current immigration system and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.  The guide also provides a list of other popular immigration films.  Refugee and Immigration Ministries also has available a list of films and discussion tools for small groups on both refugee and immigration issues.  Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM) is a ministry of Disciples Home Missions supported by your Week of Compassion offerings.

Read More about the REEL Guide or Read More about the RIM List and Tools


News from the World Council of Churches:  65 Years after Hiroshima Bomb, Churches Call for Elimination of Nuclear Arms

Again we mourn the people who died from the atomic bombings of 1945 and extend our solidarity and resolve to those who survive. The pain of this important anniversary is threefold. There are the shattered families, recurring traumas and unnatural deaths that have affected hundreds of thousands of people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Read More

Update on Pakistan Flooding

Last week Pakistan was struck by brutal monsoon-related floods, killing more than 1,100, with authorities worried about the spread of waterborne diseases. At least 1.5 million people have been displaced and thousands remain stranded.

Assessments conducted by Week of Compassion partners such as Church World Service indicate that survivors face grave challenges, given the loss of housing, crops and livestock. Most of the affected villages are still inundated, and people in general have little to eat and no means to earn money.

Aside from the human toll, 111 bridges have been destroyed, and more than 3,700 houses have been swept away.

Through Church World Service, Week of Compassion will contribute to a flexible response that will adapt as needs in each district emerge. At this point, plans include providing emergency assistance to 70,000 people, food assistance to 35,000 people, emergency shelter supplies to meet the needs of 17,500 people, and mobile health access for 17,500 people.

Through our ecumenical network, we will continue to respond and keep you updated. Initial reports estimate the response will cost $1.6 million. As we have been called to help our neighbors, please consider ways that you can help partner with Week of Compassion to provide relief in these severely affected regions. We give thanks to God for your service, and pray with hope for the people of Pakistan.

China: Worst Floods in Decade Displace 8 Million

Heavy rains, floods and landslides across southern and central China have left 701 people dead and 347 missing. A total of 27 out of 31 provinces and municipalities in the country, mostly along the Yangtze River, have been lashed by storms. Official figures now indicate that up to 110 million people are affected, of which about 8 million have had to be evacuated from flooded areas. This includes up to 250,000 people in Guang’an in Sichuan Province, an area still recovering from the 2008 earthquake.

New storms and continuing rains over the last couple of weeks have caused the situation to further deteriorate. Since July 1, around 645,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving millions homeless. More than seventeen million acres of farmland have been flooded and crops destroyed. A third typhoon this season, Chantu, landed in the southern coastal area of Guangdong Province on July 22 and then moved to neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the evening. Over one million people were affected and 2915 houses were destroyed, according to officials at the provincial flood control headquarters. The situation is being closely monitored as more rain and flooding is expected.

Long-time Week of Compassion partner, the Amity Foundation, is in close contact with its local partners in the affected areas, who have indicated the urgent need for shelter, basic household items and food rations, including cooking oil. ACT Alliance members are providing for these urgent needs, including supplementary nutrition, daily commodities and shelter items, to minimize the suffering of 3000 vulnerable families. Amity also plans to contribute to the rehabilitation of the livelihoods of 500 households, the houses of 50 families and five irrigation/dam systems, serving the poorest and most vulnerable communities in secondary affected and remote areas.  Amity expects a big gap in unmet needs in more remote areas and in some areas classified as secondary flood-affected. Therefore, Amity will first focus on assisting people in the areas that are also severely damaged by the floods but which are likely to receive less support.

Tropical Storm Season

Even though Tropical Storm Bonnie has fizzled out, we are monitoring the Gulf Coast and other vulnerable areas as this hurricane season is predicted to be particularly harsh, and there are fears that damage might be compounded by the BP oil spill.  Thanks to you and your trust, partnership, and faithful gifts to the Compassion Response Fund, Week of Compassion will respond as needs arise.

Around the World, Around the Year

Our Compassion Response Fund is a flexible fund that allows us to respond quickly and effectively when disasters hit. Within 24 hours of the earthquake in Haiti, we were able to respond through that fund to get aid to our partners. As soon as we received word from our partners as to how we could most effectively respond to Tropical Storm Agatha in Central America, the Response Fund allowed us to help meet needs. Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, New Jersey, California—the Response Fund has met needs in all of these places as they have arisen.

2010 has been a particularly active year for Week of Compassion. We continue to respond, in partnership with you, as needs emerge. Your continued support and investment allows us to respond effectively and efficiently to disasters, extreme poverty, and many other life-and-death issues all over the world. In the midst of so much disaster and suffering, we are blessed to witness God’s presence. Your gifts to Week of Compassion make real the love of Christ in this hurting world. Please consider a mid-year contribution to the Response Fund.

Thank you for your courageous compassion, and for putting your faith into action as we reach out to our brothers and sisters all over the world. To God be the Glory! 

Weekly Roundup

Fair Trade Futures Conference

From September 10-12, 2010, 750+ people will be in Boston for the largest Fair Trade conference in North American history! Register by August 1st.

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Invitation to Students

The World Student Christian Federation North America and the Steering Committee of the Student Christian Movement USA invite students to attend "Overcoming Violence: Encountering the Past, Engaging the Present, Empowering the Future," October 8-11, 2010, at Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA.

Student representatives from seminaries, colleges, universities and from the current chapters of the SCM USA across the country will come together to discuss how they will collectively put their faith into action toward progressive Christian concerns. SCM USA will provide the coordination of ecumenical student activities in the U.S. and subsequently connect U.S. students to the rest of the World Student Christian Federation.

For more information go here or send an email.

Need Continues for School and Clean-Up Kits

The CWS inventory of clean-up buckets and school kits is still quite low. The need is great: we are in the midst of tropical storm and hurricane season, when clean-up buckets often are requested, and CWS is getting numerous requests for the school kits as overseas partners prepare for the fall school year.

Thank you for whatever efforts you can make to help increase the clean-up bucket and school kit supply to help meet potential and existing requests.

Read More

This Week's Responses

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 
Oklahoma, flood relief 
Kentucky, flood relief 
China, flood relief

Development and Long-Term Recovery 
India, women's empowerment

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Share With a Friend

We now have more than 2,700 friends on Facebook learning about and engaging in the work of Week of Compassion. If you're one of them, please share Week of Compassion with a friend. It's easy -- go to http://facebook.com/weekofcompassion/ and click "Suggest to Friends" in the left column beneath our profile picture.

Help us show Courageous Compassion to those in need by sharing the work of Week of Compassion with your friends.

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Planting Fields of Hope

A few months ago, I wrote about my visit to a Foods Resource Bank (FRB) overseas program in Guatemala.  Last week, Executive Director Amy Gopp; our colleague from Church World Service, Don Tatlock; George and Norma Armstrong from First Christian Church in Valparaiso, IN; and I attended FRB’s Annual Meeting in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

Along with discussing the new FRB strategic plan and engaging a panel on the roles of development organizations, USAID, land grant universities, and the private sector on  food security in Washington, DC, we also made a pilgrimage to a local FRB Growing Project: The Grossnickle “Field of Hope” in Myersville, MD.

The Myersville Project, hosted by Grossnickle Church of the Brethren, and also sponsored by several other local Brethren Churches, a United Church of Christ and a local Catholic Church, was just an hour or so from Washington, DC, but the rolling hills were filled with crops, farmhouses, and all of the things that make rural life unique. We were treated to an amazing potluck dinner, complete with a growing project-themed cake and a sample of ugali and sukuma wiki, a staple of Kenya, where the Bamba Ganze project, sponsored by the Field of Hope, is located. We then loaded up on wagons and headed out on an old-fashioned hayride, which took us to a beautiful clearing down by a river where the Grossnickle church still holds its baptisms. We worshipped together and celebrated the harvest gifts of the year and the opportunity to contribute to the world we envision: one where hunger is but a memory, and as the prophet Micah imagined, justice rolls down like water. 

It was a great evening and altogether, a great meeting: part food security strategizing, part advocacy event, part family reunion, all church.

Growing projects are a unique way of getting local churches involved in working for food security all over the world. Essentially, churches pool together money to support a growing project, which can look like many things—some extra acreage managed by a local farmer, a community garden, a pumpkin patch that brings together the labor of a youth group and local retirees. The yield from that growing project—whether it is a share of what several head of cattle bring when sold at the stockyards, or the money that comes from fresh vegetables sold at a farmer’s market - then goes to support one of the many food security projects all over the world; these projects help people utilize their skills in new ways, creating opportunities for sustainable small-scale food production. To see a list of these innovative projects, click here.

Local growing projects take a good bit of work and coordination, but they are an amazing way to get churches—particularly rural churches—involved in making a big difference in fighting hunger all over the world. They can be joint ventures by small Disciples churches, a rural church with access to farmland can team up with a suburban or urban church with some financial resources to give, or it could emerge out of a local ecumenical effort—churches gathered together in a single community who want to do something to reach outside their town.

There are currently 12 growing projects sponsored by Disciples churches, and they are supporting tremendous work overseas. Week of Compassion has some special grant money set aside to help foster more growing projects, and we’d love to see more take off, whether it takes the form of a longstanding family farm’s labor of love or a local congregation’s experiment in urban agriculture or community gardening.

Love for one’s neighbor takes many forms, after all. 

If your church is interested in starting a local growing project, please e-mail Brandon at bgilvin@woc.disciples.org.

Weekly Roundup

Gulf Oil Spill Pastoral Letter

Week of Compassion, General Minister and President Sharon Watkins, and several Regional and Area Ministers recently sent a letter to churches in areas affected by the BP oil spill. To read the letter and see the resources WoC has made available for responding to the spill, click here.

After The Earthquake, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

No one said responding to the aftermath of Haiti's devastating 12 January earthquake would be easy.

They were right.

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Urgent Need for School and Clean-Up Kits

This is to alert you to the fact that the CWS inventory of clean-up buckets and school kits is extremely low. The need is great - we are in the midst of tropical storm and hurricane season, when clean-up buckets often are requested, and CWS is getting numerous requests for the school kits as overseas partners prepare for the fall school year.

Thank you, in advance, for whatever efforts you can make to help increase CWS' clean-up bucket and school kit supply to help meet potential and existing requests.

Read More

Quick Hits

Promoting Good Governance in Pakistan... and ...raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.

This Week's Responses

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Nicaragua, tropical storm relief
Guatemala, tropical storm relief
El Salvador, tropical storm relief
Republic of Congo, train accident
Pakistan/Afghanistan, security crisis
Romania, flood relief
Brazil, flood relief
Montana, tornado/flood relief
Haiti, trauma counseling/peacebuilding

Development and Long-Term Recovery

Zimbabwe, water wells
Kenya (2), water project

2nd Quarter Response Fund Report

The Compassion Response Fund is an allocation the Week of Compassion Advisory Committee makes each year to enable WoC to respond quickly to requests for emergencies, disasters and other urgent and unexpected needs that arise. For 2010 the WoC Committee has allocated $510,000 for the Response Fund; it is the single largest item in the WoC program budget. In addition to what is budgeted for the Response Fund, WoC receives designated gifts for the Fund and for specific disasters, countries and situations that further enhance our capacity to respond to emergency needs and appeals. To date WoC has made a disaster response on average of once every other day.

Below is a brief report of grants from the Compassion Response Fund and other designated disaster response accounts. Contributions for the Response Fund are needed and welcomed and will be used 100% for emergency response to humanitarian needs in the world.

Africa: [39,465]
$1,500 - Angola, emergency
$8,500 – DR Congo, humanitarian crisis
$6,000 – DR Congo, eastern DRC conflict & displacement
$1,665 - Kenya, water wells
$5,000 – Mali, drought relief
$2,500 – South Africa, emergency assistance
$8,000 – Sudan, South Sudan drought relief
$6,000 - Uganda, mudslides
$300 -    Zimbabwe, water wells

East Asia and the Pacific: [13,500]

$11,000 – China, earthquake
$2,500 – Fiji, cyclone relief

Latin America and the Caribbean: [604,500]
$2,500 – Argentina, tornado relief
$69,500 - Chile, earthquake
$5,000 – El Salvador, floods & mudslides
$6,000 – Guatemala, TS Agatha floods
$513,500 – Haiti, earthquake
$2,000 – Mexicali, earthquake
$6,000 – Mexico, earthquake

Middle East and Europe: [11,000]
$6,000 – Gaza/West Bank, humanitarian assistance
$5,000 - Iraq, assistance to IDPs & refugees

Southern Asia: {37,000}
$10,000 – India, tropical storm relief
$5,000 – India, food security
$6,000 – Pakistan, post-conflict rehabilitation
$6,000 – Pakistan/Afghanistan, security crisis
$10,000 – Thai/Burma, refugee assistance

General: [12,000]
$12,000 - 2010 Rapid Response Fund
            Madagascar, cyclone recovery
            Zambia, flood relief
            Pakistan, displacement due to flooding
            El Salvador, floods & mudslides

Domestic: [78,080]
$500 – California, vandalism to church
$2,500 – Florida, long-term disaster recovery
$100 – Illinois, church flood
$750 – Iowa, tornado damage
$3,500 – Kentucky, flood relief
$7,500 - Louisiana, long-term hurricane recovery
$750 – Louisiana, flood recovery
$500 – Michigan, local development
$1,000 – New Jersey, flood relief
$300 – Ohio, resettled refugee assistance
$5,000 – Oklahoma, hail damage
$3,500 – Oklahoma, flood relief
$25,450 – Tennessee, flood relief
$4,000 - Texas, hurricane recovery
$720 – Texas, resettled refugee assistance
$500 – West Virginia, coal mine tragedy
$500 - U.S., 2010 winter storms
$5,250 - U.S., NE states storms appeal
$5,000 – U.S., 2010 spring storms
$4,760 – U.S., refugee assistance
$6,000 – U.S., 2010 summer emergencies

Church World Service Alert: Urgent Need for Kits

This is to alert you to the fact that the CWS inventory of clean-up buckets and school kits is extremely low. The need is great -- we are in the midst of tropical storm and hurricane season, when clean-up buckets often are requested, and CWS is getting numerous requests for the school kits as overseas partners prepare for the fall school year.   

 

Thank you, in advance, for whatever efforts you can make to help increase CWS’ clean-up bucket and school kit supply to help meet potential and existing requests.

Click here for specific information.

 

Weekly Roundup

Churches, nonprofits fight for survival amid spill: 

Bayou La Batre, AL — God only knows what will happen to churches and other nonprofit organizations who say they are struggling for survival because of the Gulf oil spill crisis.

Read More
 
Availability of Temporary Immigration Status for Haitians Ends July 20!

Haitians who were in the United States on a temporary visa or in undocumented status when the earthquake struck Haiti last January, have until July 20th to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which will allow them to remain in the United States until at least next summer.  Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM) has prepared information on how to apply for TPSRIM is a program of Disciples Home Missions supported by your Week of Compassion offerings.

Summer Volunteering

Check out the great work being done by Disciples Volunteering in Beaumont, TX, and Slidell, LA. 

This Week's Responses

Disaster Relief & Emergency Aid

Mauritania, drought relief
India, tropical storm in Bihar & West Bengal
Kyrgyzstan, relief for conflict-affected persons
Florida, oil spill/economic recovery
Indiana, storm damage

Development and Long-Term Recovery

Nicaragua, food security

Wine to Water: Paris, TN

{The following was written by Rev. Megan Huston, pastor of First Christian Church, Paris, TN. As a seminary student, she served as an intern with Week of Compassion.}

In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ first miracle is at a wedding. In the middle of a great celebration, the wine runs out. Spurred on by his mother, Jesus turns water into wine. It’s a compelling story—Jesus offers abundance in a moment of scarcity. In that same spirit, First Christian Church, Paris, TN, has tried to live into a ministry that offers life to communities in need, seeing abundance in times of scarcity.

Not long ago, I spoke to Brandon Gilvin, WoC’s Associate Director, who told me about a new initiative Week of Compassion was trying with some churches: “Wine into Water.” The project teams Week of Compassion, Church World Service’s “Water for All” program, and local congregations. Like the folks John writes about in the Gospel who gathered for a wedding in Cana, churches put together a social event: a wine tasting with hors d' oeuvres, a sit-down dinner, a concert—whatever sort of celebration the church would like to put together, and the money they raise from admission or contribution goes to clean water projects through Week of Compassion and Church World Service.

When I heard about a fundraiser for Week of Compassion involving wine and compassion, I knew that FCC Paris would be interested! I was right. Our entire congregation immediately got to work. We spread the word around our small community of about 10,000. We convinced the hottest band in town to donate their time. We even persuaded a Methodist brother across the street to donate all the wine! It didn’t hurt that the best caterer in town goes to FCC. Pretty soon, we had pulled together one exciting shindig.

We had to organize advertisng and ticket sales, so we got posters made and each committee member was asked to sell about 20 tickets. Pretty soon, we were hearing about our own event from friends and neighbors.

We aren’t one of the “big” churches in town. We don’t have a gym or other elaborate facilities.  We’re like a lot of Disciples churches in a lot of towns all over the country: a congregation of about 100 active members trying our best to love God and serve our neighbors.

With a little creativity and some collaboration with Week of Compassion, we were able to put together one of the most exciting fundraisers anyone could remember in Paris. We also hit the right notes in term of advocacy—by sharing photos and stories of East African communities who would benefit from the project, we raised awareness about the “Water for Life” project and one of the regions it serves.

Our evening of fun raised $3000 to help create clean water systems: new wells, cisterns and dams. It will also go to help increase advocacy about water issues all over the world, and help fund educational initiatives about water, hygiene, and health across Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.

Since our party, our congregation feels like we’ve really contributed something. We took our gifts and created life for others. We participated in a miracle.

For more information on how your congregation can sponsor a "Wine into Water" fundraiser, e-mail Brandon at bgilvin@woc.disciples.org.