Turning Wine to Water in Columbia, Missouri

First Christian Church, Columbia, MO, recently hosted a "Wine to Share, Water for All" event. Rev. Jimmy Spear, Associate Minister at FCC, offered these reflections on the event.

It was the social event for spring at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in downtown Columbia, Missouri - an evening for friends to gather for good wine, food, and a great cause.

For a traditional 180 year old congregation in an historic stone church, for wine to be served at a church event, you’d think that Jesus would have to bring it himself.  Well, Wine to Share, Water for All changed that story for the good Disciples in Columbia!  With the story of Jesus turning water to wine as a backdrop, they threw a party that brought wine back into the story of Disciples helping others - providing clean water to those in need.

In its second year, over $1,700 was raised in two hours by close to 80 people ranging in age from 21 to 95.  It was a unique occasion giving folks the chance to dress up and come out for a fun social event not like any other church potluck or picnic.

The event started with the church’s World Outreach Department wondering how they might increase awareness and funding for Week of Compassion.  Someone on the committee noted seeing a fun idea on the Week of Compassion website - Wine to Share, Water for All.  The whole committee thought getting friends together over wine was a great idea!  

But could they invite the congregation?  Could they raise money?  How was a water project unique to Week of Compassion’s mission?  

That was more than a year ago.  Since then, in the spring of each year, First Christian Church has hosted Wine to Share, Water for All and raised over $3,500 for water related WoC projects.

The committee approached a local wine wholesaler to partner in the event by donating four cases of wine.  The pastor, who had an inside track on the cooking ability of church people, was able to identify 12 excellent cooks in the congregation that would be asked to bring quality appetizers.  There was neither processed cheese dip nor hot wings at this event.  The cooks were most delighted for the challenge of bringing their best.  Smoked salmon, unique cheeses, skewers of marinated vegetables, puff pastry delights, unique deserts, and one-of-a-kind dips. Rented wine glasses and classy decorations made the evening event a special affair.  

Jazz music in the background and uniquely decorated candlelit tables welcomed church members and their guests, dressed up for a night on the town, to a funky, cool building on the church property.  A great selection of wines were tasted and enjoyed, food and fellowship were shared.  The event was held from 7-9 p.m. with a brief word about the cause shared at 8 p.m.  This year Week of Compassion’s Brandon Gilvin was present to share the first-hand story of WoC water projects and needs.  Last year a Church World Service video and presentation on a successful water project in Africa was shown.  Childcare was offered so parents of small children could participate.

The event encouraged people to donate as they felt called.  There was a very large glass decanter on the serving table.  People were invited to offer their donations there throughout the evening.  

For First Christian Church in Columbia, having a side building on the property that was not the “church building” made it easy to host a wine event but the committee also noted how well this event would work in a large home or outdoor setting.  Either way, the people of FCC Columbia loved finding a unique way to have fun raising money for Week of Compassion.  In fact, people are already asking when it will happen again!

We are grateful for the creativity of congregations that utilize their gifts, talents, and resources to partner with us! If you have held a unique event-or have sponsored a beloved event for years, let us know.  Help us tell the story of how we work together to put Compassion into Action!

 

When the Maize is High

It was an absolute downpour.  A candle was lit.  So we sat in the dark and discussed...what it was like to have to leave all you once cherished; what it was like to be forced to flee all that was familiar; what it was like to feel like a stranger in your own land; and what it was like to be trapped in a place that would never, ever feel like home...

  

I traveled to the post-Soviet, Caucasian country of Georgia a few weeks ago to visit our partners and projects.  Part of a Church World Service delegation, my colleagues and I were welcomed under a relentless Georgian rain to the Tsilkani Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlement in the Mskheta municipality, a mere twenty minutes outside the capital city Tbilisi.  Vaja Khachipurica, the elected chairperson of the IDP settlement committee, had been waiting for us for a couple of hours-not that I would have ever known that, as he showed no sign of frustration or impatience-were it not for our colleague Rostom informing us of how late we had arrived.  Typical of Georgian hospitality, which in my experience is unrivaled the world over, Vaja welcomed our delegation to his community.  A distinguished and handsome older gentleman appearing as the former university professor and scientist he once was, one would never guess he has made his home at the Tsilkani settlement camp for the last five years.  The Five-Day War in 2008 led to the further displacement of ethnic Georgians and South Ossetians from the contested region of South Ossetia in northern Georgia. 

Vaja lives with 400 other families crammed into the Tsilkani camp.  Among those 400 households are 120 children.  Each family receives 28 Georgian Lari a month from the national government, which is just under $17 US-hardly enough to cover household costs for even a few days.  Eka and Maka, also members of the settlement committee, shared with me how they must rotate the days they can send their children to school.  With only one small shuttle bus, there is not enough room for all the children to fit. Thus, they rotate the days they can go to school.  In addition to schooling challenges in the camp, the unemployment level is dramatically high. For people who worked as cattle herders in South Ossetia, they find it almost unbearable to live in a place where hardly any cattle-herding or farming is possible. 

But even these problems were not considered the worst in Tsilkhani.  When I asked Vaja what the primary issues in the camp were, without a beat he said, "Water.  Water and sanitation.  This has become our inaccessible dream."  Without proper sanitation, water-borne diseases have been rampant.  The small, cookie-cutter cottages where each family live have no bathrooms.  The only toilets the camp has are pit latrines which are outside in the fields.  The women seemed especially ashamed to tell me of how they must boil water and go into a pit latrine to take some semblance of a shower or, if the maize is high, into the fields.  They find no privacy and little if any dignified manner of washing their bodies.  

In spite of these major needs, I was most gratified to visit the Tsilkhani camp along with my newfound friends and colleagues from our primary local partner in Georgia, the Rural Communities Development Agency (RCDA).  Rostom Gamisonia, the Director of RCDA and whose brainchild it is, utilized our visit to strategize further with the community as to how many solar collectors, solar water heaters, solar dryers (to dry fruits and vegetables and sell at market), and how many urine-diverting dry toilets (UDDT) they could use.  The work that RCDA does among these displaced communities is exemplary.  Providing appropriate, renewable, and sustainable sources of energy and income is RCDA's objective.  They have also helped the IDP communities build gardens and greenhouses by providing seeds and seedlings.  Rostom and Vaja talked long, under candlelight, about what other changes CWS, RCDA, and WoC could help bring to this community.  Never intended to be a permanent solution, it became obvious to us all that Tsilkhani would probably not be a temporary solution for its 400 families.  

So how do they find hope?  "There is no way out.  We must come together and do what we can to find that way. If not us, who?"  Vaja, Eka, and Maka all told me that their hope is from the mutual support they all receive from one another as a reminder that they are not alone.  "Our hope is also in God. If we didn't believe, we couldn't survive," Vaja exclaimed.

As for a durable solution, however, I couldn't help but hope and pray right along with them, as we sat in the dark, talking through the candlelight.  Until these beautiful souls are able to go back home, or to find a place where they can feel at home, I am comforted only by knowing that our gifts, partnership, and solidarity sustain them. 

No longer sojourners or strangers, in Christ Jesus we are all, indeed, one (Ephesians 2:19).  When even one suffers, we all suffer. When one is honored, we are all honored.  On this World Refugee Day, I thank you for your compassion for all those who are displaced, unwelcomed, neglected, imprisoned, and exiled.  On behalf of Vaja and all those I met in the Tsilkhani camp, I can't help but ask again, "If not us, who? " 

  

For worship and devotional resources on World Refugee Day click here.

 

  

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This Week's Responses: 

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
Missouri, Tornado Damage
Kenya, Refugee Assistance
Illinois, Flood Damage
Colorado, Wildfires

Fires in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas Update, and Celebrating at General Assembly

Wildfires in Colorado

Week of Compassion is continuing to monitor the wildfires that are raging in Colorado.  About 9,000 people in more than 3,400 households covering a 55 square mile area have been evacuated.  We are in touch with the Regional Office and with pastors in the affected areas, and will respond as needs emerge. We urge you to keep the communities impacted by the fire in your prayers.  As the fires subside and more information emerges about needs, we will respond, as needed.

Responding in Oklahoma and Texas

Over the last two weeks, Week of Compassion and Disciples Volunteering staff members have made pastoral visits to communities impacted by several headline-making disasters:  the greater Oklahoma City area, struck by a series of tornados in May; West, Texas, site of a chemical explosion; and the towns of Cleburne and Granbury, impacted by tornados, as well.  We were able to meet with local pastors, tour impacted areas, and discuss opportunities for collaboration with our partners in the United Church of Christ National Disaster Ministry.  In some communities, we were able to make contact with local long-term recovery committees, representatives of FEMA, and other agencies and organizations involved in long-term recovery. 

  

While recovery is not an overnight process, it was heartening to see how quickly churches and communities were organizing around the long-term recovery process.  Week of Compassion and Disciples Volunteering are continuing to strategize around the needs of these communities and will continue to keep you informed as to how we are working to partner with you to put our Compassion into Action.

Sharing Brings Joy! Week of Compassion Worship Celebration at General Assembly

Week of Compassion would like to invite you to a special Sunday morning worship service at Pershing Avenue Christian Church in Orlando, Florida. We will celebrate the ways your gifts enable Week of Compassion to support partners from all over the world to live into Christ's compassion for the vulnerable, the hurting, and the otherwise forgotten.

Our friends at Green Chalice and Equal Exchange are also partnering with us to host a Fair Trade Coffee Hour with delicious fair trade coffee and tea from our very own Disciples Coffee Project. Worship begins at 8:30 am on July 14th. Pershing Avenue Christian Church is located on 2000 Pershing Ave in Orlando. Shuttle buses will provide transportation between the church and the convention center. More details are available here.

This event is free but tickets are required. Tickets are available through online registration. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office, weekofcompassion@woc.disciples.org or (317) 713-2442. We look forward to meeting you in Orlando, where we will worship, celebrate, and share joy together!

Thanks be to God, the one who gives birth to hope and who brings healing to the hurting!

  

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
Missouri, Tornado Relief (2)
Oklahoma, Tornado Relief (29)

Partnering in Oklahoma

Photo Credit: Brandon Gilvin
The dust is still settling in Oklahoma. Massive tornados struck several communities, large and small, on May 19th and 20th, and the damage has been devastating. Communities like Shawnee, Carney, New Castle, Little Axe, and Moore have been featured in national news segments, and stories of resilience and survival continue to resonate throughout the world.

 

Through your partnership with Week of Compassion, you have been there. Your generosity has already provided support to families who have been displaced, provided clean-up and other supplies to folks whose neighborhoods have been destroyed, and is bolstering the formation of long term recovery groups across the area.

 

This week, staff from Week of Compassion joined Disciples Volunteering, the Disaster Ministry of the United Church of Christ, General Minister and President Sharon Watkins, Transitional Regional Minister Dean Phelps, and UCC Conference Minister Edith Guffey in Oklahoma City. Together we have been on the ground checking in with those affected, identifying potential partners and resources, and imagining along with the community what recovery and a post-tornado "new normal" might look like.

 

Along with touring the damage, the delegation was able to meet with a group of 65 pastors and church leaders from Oklahoma Disciples churches, a group of interfaith leaders convened by local UCC pastors, representatives from FEMA, and visit with the pastoral staff of First Christian Church, Moore, which--though not damaged by the storm--has been at the forefront of caring for the community, providing care and resources to those affected.

 

According to many reports, the storm impacted just under 4,000 homes, businesses and non-residential buildings in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties. Of those, 1,248 were destroyed, 452 sustained major damage, and 640 sustained minor damage. Communities from across the socioeconomic spectrum were impacted in many ways, and will need ongoing support in terms of long term recovery.

 

As Josh Baird, director of Disciples Volunteering, noted, "From the stories that were shared and the things that we witnessed, it is clear that folks do not need bottled water (cases are dropped on the sidewalk for passersby on nearly every block in some communities), nor are they ready for 'spontaneous volunteers' (one affected community of 650 people had 1,000 folks show up to help last Sunday alone). They do need prayers, financial gifts, and patient partnering as they look toward a recovery that will last several years."

 

Photo Credit: Brandon Gilvin
Conversation after conversation was marked by an infectious hope. "Just you watch," one pastor reflected. "We're going to recover."

 

It will take prayers, resources, coordination, the work of many volunteers, and right now, patience and time for these communities to recover. With the support of so many who want to put their Compassion into Action, we will be able to do more than just watch. We will be able to bring healing and hope over the long haul.

--Brandon

                                                                    

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
Oklahoma, Tornado Damage (2)
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:
Palestine, Peacebuilding

 

 

Responding in Oklahoma and Relief and Recovery Webinar

The Response Continues in Oklahoma

Photo Credit: FEMA/Andrea Booher

Thanks to your gifts and generosity, Week of Compassion immediately responded to the tornadoes that struck the Oklahoma City metropolitan area on Sunday and Monday. We are in regular contact with the Oklahoma Regional Office and are working with Disciples Volunteering to assess needs affecting Disciples and the wider community. Initial solidarity grants supporting Disciples who have lost their homes or sustained significant damage have been delivered as a sign of care on behalf of the entire church. We are also supporting Church World Service's emergency response efforts to deliver material resources and the develop Long Term Recovery Teams.

Currently, only first-responders are permitted to enter affected areas. We encourage you to pray, pay, and stay: pray for those affected, contribute to immediate needs by reaching out through Week of Compassion, and stay where you are. The time for volunteers will come, but it is not today! In our deep desire to help and reach out to those in such great need, we strive always to help in ways that are most supportive, effective, and efficient.

We cannot thank you enough for your faithful stewardship, gifts, trust, and partnership. For the most up-to-date information about our response, please continue to check in on our website and via Facebook and Twitter.

Webinar on Disaster Relief and Recovery

In the wake of the Oklahoma Tornados, plenty of questions have emerged concerning how communities affected by disaster respond and recover. On Tuesday, June 4, at 2 pm EST, Church World Service (CWS) Emergency Response Specialists will present key organizations and people that play a significant role from preparedness to long-term recovery. This webinar will also be a great way for participants to network, learn, and share their own experience and expertise. Register by clicking here.

This Week’s Responses:


Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
Oklahoma, Tornado Damage (16)
North America, 2013 Tornadoes
Development and Long Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:
West Africa, Food Security
New York, Poverty Reduction
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Women’s Income Generation Project
Bolivia, Empowering Guarani Youth
Georgia, Vocational and Educational Opportunities for Youth
Uganda, Karamoja Education and Youth Empowerment
Serbia, Roma Women’s Empowerment
Georgia, Children and Youth Development
Kenya, School Safe Zone
Vietnam, Cleaner Villages
Ghana, Environmental Climate Change
Swaziland, Food Security
Ghana, Domestic and Gender Based Violence
South Africa, Girl's Empowerment
Ecuador, Community Development
Sierra Leone, Enhancing Welfare for Children
Middle East, Muslim/Christian Dialogue
Laos, Community Development
Tanzania, Combatting Burkitts Lymphoma

Responding to Tornados in Oklahoma

Week of Compassion is responding to the tornados that struck the Oklahoma City metropolitan area on Sunday and Monday. Our staff has been in touch with the Oklahoma Regional Office, and is currently working with them to assess needs affecting Disciples, and will-as always-work with our churches and Disciples Volunteering to discern the best way to contribute to the long-term recovery of affected communities across Oklahoma City and beyond.

At this point, only skilled first-responders are permitted to enter affected areas. If you would like to help out, the best thing you can do is to Pray, Pay, and Stay: pray for those affected, contribute to immediate needs by reaching out through Week of Compassion, and stay where you are. The time for volunteers will come, but it is not today!

We continue to keep Moore and all areas affected by disasters in our prayers. Thank you for all of the ways you partner with us and support those in need. 

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This Week's Responses:

 

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Texas, Tornado Damage (2)

Supporting Partners As Tornado Strikes North Texas

Volunteers work tirelessly in the shelter at First Christian Church, Granbury, Texas. Photo Credit: Don TatlockAccording to reports, at least 10 tornadoes touched down in North Texas overnight. In the wake of these storms, more than a hundred people have been injured, and at least six people have been killed. Several homes have been leveled in the communities of Granbury and Cleburne, and others have sustained significant damage.

Week of Compassion has been in touch with congregations providing important, compassionate leadership in the midst of this disaster. First Christian Church in Granbury is working with the Red Cross to provide shelter for those displaced by last night's storm, and First Christian Church in Cleburne is also providing support to folks displaced by the storm in their community. We are working with the pastoral leadership of congregations, as well as the area and regional ministers, to coordinate support for those affected by the storm.

We will continue to monitor the situation and coordinate our response through the region and our faithful partners at CWS. Please keep the communities affected in your prayers, and if you would like to respond with Courageous Compassion, please follow this link .

We give thanks for all of those faithful ways you provide support and relief through partnership. Your generosity brings hope--even in the midst of frightening, overwhelming devastation.

 

 

 

             

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
Jordan, Syrian Refugees
Ohio, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Texas, Tornado Damage (11)

Cleanup Buckets, Opportunities in Joplin, and General Assembly

CWS APPEALS URGENTLY FOR EMERGENCY CLEANUP BUCKETS

As the 2,500th CWS Emergency Cleanup Bucket arrived on May 7 in flood-ravaged Illinois, Week of Compassion joins our partner CWS in appealing urgently for people to replenish its rapidly dwindling supply.

Heavy precipitation from early 2013 storms and floods has resulted in widespread and severe flooding in Illinois and other states.

“The CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets are giving hope and help to survivors,” said Barry Shade, CWS associate director for U.S. disaster response. “With needs assessment ongoing, CWS expects to respond to additional requests from Illinois and other states for buckets. When we do, we hope to be able to respond without delay.”

Only about 2,600 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets remain in the agency’s warehouse in New Windsor, Md., Shade said.

Church World Service, a global humanitarian agency and sponsor of CROP Hunger Walks, emphasizes the importance of faith community involvement in long-term recovery from disaster. Week of Compassion’s partnership helps supply thousands of CWS Blankets, CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets and other CWS Kits for shipment to disaster survivors every year.

In addition, we work together to help flood survivors access the material, emotional, spiritual and human resources they need to get back on their feet and go on with their lives by helping communities to start their own long-term recovery groups.

Putting together a CWS Emergency Cleanup Bucket is easy! It’s a great project for a youth group or anyone looking for a hands-on activity that makes a real difference. Instructions are available here.

Help Rebuild Joplin at “The Station”!

Disciples Volunteering, Week of Compassion, and the Disaster Ministry of the United Church of Christ invite you to spend a week this autumn at the mission station at South Joplin Christian Church and contribute to the ongoing post-tornado recovery of Joplin, MO. Our partners on the ground have reported that there is a critical need for volunteers from August-November. This is a great time to take a mission trip, whether it’s your church’s first or fortieth. For more information, including registration, follow this link.

Don’t Forget! Week of Compassion Worship Celebration at General Assembly

Week of Compassion would like to invite you to a special Sunday morning worship service at Pershing Avenue Christian Church in Orlando, Florida. We will celebrate the ways your gifts enable Week of Compassion to support partners from all over the world to live into Christ’s compassion for the vulnerable, the hurting, and the otherwise forgotten.

Our friends at Green Chalice and Equal Exchange are also partnering with us to host a Fair Trade Coffee Hour with delicious fair trade coffee and tea from our very own Disciples Coffee Project. Worship begins at 8:30 am on July 14th. Pershing Avenue Christian Church is located on 2000 Pershing Ave in Orlando. Shuttle buses will provide transportation between the church and the convention center. More details are available here.

This event is free but tickets are required. Tickets are available through online registration. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office, weekofcompassion@woc.disciples.org or (317) 713-2442.

We look forward to meeting you in Orlando, where we will worship, celebrate, and share joy together!

A Simple Prayer

From flooding in Illinois and Indiana to ongoing violence in Syria, people all over the world are facing significant uncertainty, overwhelming destruction, and are longing for a sense of hope.

For all those who suffer; those who feel so intimately what it is like to live in world filled with as much devastation as it is grace, we pray. For those who put their compassion into action so that those who suffer might feel solidarity, hope, and peace, we give thanks.

To partner with Week of Compassion and put your compassion into action, click here.

 

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This Week’s Responses:

 

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Pakistan, Displacement

NAPAD, Emergency Request

Indiana, Flood Assistance (2)

Week of Compassion and the Week That Was

Last week’s news was filled with reports of disasters. From flooding across a couple of Midwestern states to explosions in Texas and Boston to Friday’s report of a devastating earthquake in China, it seemed like one couldn’t turn on the news without another report of tragedy.

As always, the faithful support of congregations and individuals across North America and the faithful partnership of our partners both here and around the globe have allowed Week of Compassion to respond.

Week of Compassion has been in touch with the Northeast Region and several ecumenical partners to see if there are needs emerging as a result of the Boston Marathon explosion. Likewise, we are currently working with the Southwest Region and Central Christian Church, Waco, Texas, to respond to needs emerging from last week’s explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. In addition, we will continue to monitor the situation so that we might support long-term recovery efforts in West.

We have also responded to churches and church members affected by flood damage in Indiana and Illinois, and through our partners in Global Ministries, to needs emerging from a devastating earthquake, measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, that rattled the Sichuan region in western China on Friday.

If you would like to help bring comfort to communities facing tragedy, be part of relief efforts all over the world, and join our movement of Courageous Compassion, click here.

Thank you for all the ways you have expressed concern over the past week. Your care, hope, and commitment inspire and effect change all over the world.

This Week’s Responses:

 

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Illinois-Wisconsin, Flood Response (12)

Southwest Region, Relief Efforts in West, Texas

China, Earthquake Relief

Indiana, Flood Damage (2)

Sharing Brings Joy! A Worship Celebration with Week of Compassion

Will you be in Orlando for the Disciples General Assembly? We’d love to see you!

Week of Compassion would like to invite you to a special Sunday morning worship service at Pershing Avenue Christian Church in Orlando, Florida. We will celebrate the ways your gifts enable Week of Compassion to support partners from all over the world to live into Christ’s compassion for the vulnerable, the hurting, and the otherwise forgotten.

Worship will include stories shared from across the globe by people whose lives were changed by Week of Compassion partnerships with Global Ministries, Foods Resource Bank, IMA World Health, and Prosperity Candle-just to name a few. You’ll hear how the ministry of Week of Compassion has impacted lives from Immokalee, FL to Joplin, Missouri and beyond. Our friends at Green Chalice and Equal Exchange are also partnering with us to host a Fair Trade Coffee Hour with delicious fair trade coffee and tea from our very own Disciples Coffee Project.

Leslie Lee and Steve Gretz, the dynamic musical duo who wrote “One Great Hour to Share,” a song featured during this year’s Week of Compassion special offering season, will be offering music both before the service and during the worship celebration. For more information about Leslie and Steve, you can visit their website.

Worship begins at 8:30 am on July 14th. Pershing Avenue Christian Church is located on 2000 Pershing Ave in Orlando. Shuttle buses will provide transportation between the church and the convention center.  The service is early Sunday morning so that those who want to attend “Sunday School” or other events at the convention center will have plenty of time to do so.

This event is free but tickets are required. Tickets are available through online registration . If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office, weekofcompassion@woc.disciples.org or (317) 713-2442.

We look forward to meeting you in Orlando, where we will worship, celebrate, and share joy together!

This Week’s Responses:

 

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Madagascar, Tropical Cyclone “Haruna” Relief

Ghana, Severe Rain Storm Relief

Haiti, Villier Family Emergency

Thailand, Thai-Burma Border Refugee Camp Fire

Palestine, Palestinian Refugee Relief

Compassion in Action Fund: 1st Quarter Report 2013

Compassion in Action.  To describe not only what Week of Compassion does but also who we are in one phrase, it would be that:  Compassion in Action.  For 69 years we’ve demonstrated compassion’s power, and we’ve challenged and enabled the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to respond compassionately to human need and suffering. The “Compassion in Action Fund” is an allocation the Week of Compassion Advisory Committee makes each year to enable WoC to respond quickly to requests for emergencies and disasters as well as longer-term sustainable development needs.  For 2013 the WoC Committee has allocated $750,000 for the Compassion in Action Fund; it is the single largest item in the WoC program budget. In addition to what is budgeted for the Compassion in Action Fund, WoC receives designated gifts for the Fund and for specific disasters, countries and situations that further enhance our capacity to respond immediately and efficiently to emergency needs and appeals.

Below is a brief report of grants made from the Compassion in Action Fund and other designated disaster response accounts through March 31, 2013. Contributions for the Fund are needed and always welcomed and will be used for humanitarian needs in the world.  For as many needs as there are in the world, there are that many ways to respond to those needs.  Thanks for putting your compassion into action. 

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance                                      

New York, Hurricane Recovery
Oklahoma, House Fire
Missouri, Long-term Flood Recovery
Texas, Emergency Assistance for Refugee Family
Serbia, Improving Access to Safe Drinking Water
Malawi, Flooding and Windstorms Assistance
Solomon Islands, Earthquake and Tsunami Assistance
Syria, Humanitarian Crisis
Somalia, Humanitarian Support for Somali Refugees
Sudan, Darfur, Humanitarian Assistance
Democratic Republic of Congo, Assistance to Internally Displaced People
California, Church Vandalism
Mississippi, Tornado Relief
Mozambique, Flooding
Sri Lanka, Flooding
Missouri, Kansas City Gas Explosion
Mozambique, Flooding
Indiana, House Fire
Alabama, Storm Damage
Mali, Conflict Affected
Armenia, Syrian Refugees
United States, Early 2013 Storms, Floods and Tornadoes
Taiwan, Earthquake Relief Work
Kentucky, Church Fire

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation

Syria, Refugee Assistance
Texas, Support of Long-Term Recovery Work for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Hurricane Isaac and US Summer Storms 2012 Assistance
Florida, Support of the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers
Lafayette, Indiana Growing Project, Foods Resource Bank
Balkans, Peacebuilding and Development
Chad, Sustainable Recovery
Mississippi, Solidarity Grant
Haiti, Trauma Recovery
Haiti, Recovery and Long-Term Development
Haiti, CONASPEH Projects
Indiana, Greater Indianapolis Disciples Area Association Habitat Team

Beautiful Feet: A Maundy Thursday Update

By: Rev. Amy Gopp
Based on John 13

“It was just before the Passover Feast.  Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”  (John 13:1)

Feet.  Jesus took off his outer robe, tied a towel around his waist, poured water into a bowl and started to wash his friends’ and followers’ feet.  Their feet, of all things!  Couldn’t he have been content with the hands?  Of all parts of the glorious human body that God has created, the feet are often among the least attractive.  In fact, they often smell.  They are more likely to have blisters and warts and corns and layers of dead skin.  They collect toe jam.  They’re susceptible to in-grown toenails and infections and athlete’s foot.  They can be just downright embarrassing. 

Felix's Feet, El Gran Chaco, Argentina. Photo Credit: Amy Gopp

Through the ministry of Week of Compassion, I’ve seen feet with blisters so bad those forced to flee could no longer walk.  I’ve seen the feet of children in our streets and slums who live in such poverty that a pair of shoes remains a distant dream.  I’ve seen feet calloused from walking so many kilometers each day to fetch water that they’re barely able to sustain the women who need them to get through yet another hungry, thirsty day.  I’ve seen victims of war without feet because they were blown off by stepping on a landmine that we laid in our once arable fields.  I’ve seen feet that are so pampered and painted that you’d get the impression they’ve never seen a day of working or walking in their lives.  I’ve seen my share of feet.  I know you have, too.  And no matter how they look, we rely on them.  We take their functionality for granted.  They are, quite literally, the parts which allow us to move through this world. 

Have you looked at your own in a while?  I mean, really inspected your feet?  Would you reveal them to just anyone?  The act of washing another’s feet is extremely personal.  It’s about trust.  Vulnerability.  Allowing someone else to touch the ugliest, dirtiest, and most sensitive parts of our body is not easy.  It’s an overwhelming act of surrender.  For this reason, I believe, some of the most sensual and intimate acts in the Bible involve the feet.  What more loving gesture could there be than to weep at the feet of one we love so much, wipe them dry with our hair, kiss them, and then pour perfume on them to anoint them?  Think of it; what an act!  To affirm that which is considered untouchable, disgusting, filthy, inappropriate as beautiful and worthy of tender loving care. 

Jesus has modeled for us how to wash each other’s feet.  Peter reminds us how to receive the tender loving care of having our own feet washed.  Both are in vulnerable positions.  Loving is about opening ourselves to that vulnerability, being real with one another, and serving one another.  Through Week of Compassion, we are both giver and receiver. Both are vulnerable positions.  We wash and we are washed.  We not only give gifts, contribute offerings and our time and talent, we receive the gifts of hearts and minds transformed knowing that we are partners, co-creators, and conspirators in this amazing project of life, giving and receiving, interdependent parts of the same body. Washing one another’s feet, whether the person sitting next to you in the pews or the sister or brother half way around the world whose feet we wash symbolically through our Week of Compassion resources, has to be one of the most sincere, beautiful, and self-less acts of love.  We love by serving.  We serve because we love.  Let us love the ugly, stinky, dirty, embarrassing parts of one another, for this is what it means to surrender to the compassionate and transcendent love of Christ and ultimately, discover beauty.  “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:34) 

Thank you for the ways your love is expressed through your gifts of compassion and service.  May your Holy Week be Holy, indeed.  Lenten blessings from Week of Compassion. 

This Week’s Assistance:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance: 

United States, Early 2013 Storms, Floods and Tornadoes
Taiwan, Earthquake Relief Work
Kentucky, Church Fire

Reaching Out to First Christian Church in Owensboro, KY

Early in the morning on March 18th, First Christian Church in Owensboro, Kentucky was struck by lightning, setting fire to the sanctuary and subsequently destroying the building.  Though no injuries were reported, historic pieces of this beautiful church--including its pipe organ and stained glass window--are beyond repair.  Assessments for plans for recovery are still in development. 

Week of Compassion has been in touch with the Kentucky Regional Ministry Office and Pastors Jake Caldwell and Bekah Cypert, and we are currently working with them to assess the best avenues for response.  Please keep this congregation in your prayers as we reach out to them in Courageous Compassion.  

We never know when it might be us who are in need of compassion.   Week of Compassion offerings enable us, as Church, to respond to emergencies like this one, and to ensure that we are poised to respond to the next unexpected disaster. Thank you for your faithful generosity. 

This Week’s Assistance:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Alabama, Storm Damage
Mali, Conflict Affected
Armenia, Syrian Refugees 

Development & Long Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Indiana, Greater Indianapolis Disciples Area Association Habitat Team

Caring for Children in a Time of Disaster

Since 1980 Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has been caring for children after disasters in shelters and assistance centers by providing volunteers specially trained and certified to care for children who have experienced a disaster.  Using techniques that utilize toys that encourage expression, volunteers provide a calm safe and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by a disaster.  Part of Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries, a partner of Week of Compassion, the workshop is open to anyone over the age of 18.  Please visit the website for more information, www.brethren.org/cds/ or contact the WoC staff for more information, weekofcompassion@woc.disciples.org.  We welcome your participation!  This is such a critical ministry. 

There are several CDS workshops currently scheduled.  We hope that you might be interested in attending, especially for those on the East Coast.  There will be others across the country that we will also promote, so stay tuned.  Here are the locations, dates and contact information: 

Litchfield, Connecticut
May 3 - 4, 2013
Friendship Baptist Church
441 Torrington Rd.
Litchfield, CT 06759

Groton, Connecticut
May 31 – June 1, 2013
Groton Senior Center
102 Newtown Rd.
Groton, CT 06340

New Haven, Connecticut
September 20 – 21, 2013
American Red Cross-New Haven
703 Whitney Ave.
New Haven, CT 06511

Connecticut residents, please contact Bruce Lockwood for registration information:
E-mail:  lockwoodbruce@comcast.net  Telephone:  860-883-4280

Not a Connecticut resident?  Register online or contact Children’s Disaster Services, CDS@Brethren.org  410-635-8735, or 800-451-4407, option 5

We find that caring for children after a disaster brings new volunteers to disaster work and ministry, often drawing from teachers and childcare providers and others who work with children.  Or simply those who love children and want to be of service in this way!  If you’re a person who wants to rock babies after a disaster and give their parents a much needed break, this is an opportunity for you to serve.  It is important that we fill this workshop, as the more volunteers we have, the faster we can respond to the needs of children after a disaster.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to serve, your gifts that help us partner with important partners like CDS, and for your courageous compassion. 

This Week’s Assistance:

Development & Long Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:
Haiti, CONASPEH projects

Week of Compassion Celebrates International Women's Day

It's an amazing story.
Naomi and her husband Elimelech, Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah, travel to Moab, looking for new opportunity following a famine. Their two sons come with them. In time, the two sons marry, taking Moabite wives. In time, Elimelech and his sons die.
 

Naomi and her daughters-in-law are left behind.

In one of the most touching exchanges in all of the Hebrew Bible, the three women contemplate what comes next. Naomi, set to return to her homeland, tenderly counsels Orpah and Ruth to return to their families of origin, blessing them and praying for their safety, security, and their futures. While Orpah tearfully returns to her family, Ruth clings to Naomi.

"Where you go, I will go," Ruth tells her mother-in-law.

"Your people shall be my people,

                    And your God my God."

And so the two women set out, desperately poor, desperately fearful.

As Migrants. Refugees. Uncertain women in uncertain times.

But as the story unfolds, we see these women as so much more. We see how they partner together, how they become family, how they remind one another of their own worth. We see them as agents in rebuilding their own lives, their family, and their future. Most importantly, we seem them play an integral part of God's covenant

with humanity.

Their thriving is our thriving.

Today, all over the world, we celebrate International Women's Day. At Week of Compassion, this means that we lift up partnerships that lift up women, we celebrate ways women are change agents in the disaster and development work we support, and we shout from our proverbial mountaintop the evidence, the facts and figures, the research, that reminds us of a clear reality:

If you want to invest in an entire community, invest in its women.

If you want an entire community to be empowered, empower its women.

If you want an entire community to thrive, make sure its women thrive.

All over the world, from neighborhoods in Joplin, MO, where women have been change agents in the recovery effort to villages in rural India where women are putting their new farming and entrepreneurial skills to work, women are making a difference.

Their people are our people. Their thriving is our thriving.

The Week of Compassion Womens' Empowerment Fund is a key tool for providing the skills women and girls need to be change agents in their own communities and in our world. Consider claiming the thriving of one girl, one young woman, as the thriving of your own community by supporting this important work.

Week of Compassion partnerships that empower women are many. The following list, though not exhaustive, highlights some of the ways we partner with women all over the world:

Prosperity Candle, which strives to empower women to rebuild their lives through candle making, one gift at a time.

Equal Exchange, whose fair trade philosophy not only supports women through its emphasis on farmer-owner cooperatives, but whose Congo Coffee Project, in partnership with the Panzi Foundation, supports the medical programs of Panzi Hospital in the D.R. Congo. The Panzi Hospital provides life-saving treatment, counseling and aftercare programs to more than 2,000 survivors of sexual violence each year.

Agricultural Missions, through whom we are supporting microcredit projects for women in Haiti as a way to help them rebuild their communities following the 2010 earthquake.

Foods Resource Bank, whose focus on smallholder farmers, food security, and agricultural development empowers women by enhancing skillsets and building relationships between agricultural communities all over the world.

IMA World Health, which supports safe motherhood initiatives, works to provide life-saving treatment to survivors of sexual violence, and supports grassroots partnerships that empower women in their own health decisions.

CWS, whose countless programs empower girls and women in their own communities as they build water and hygiene systems, provide peer-to-peer support in community education programs, serve as peace educators, disaster responders, and so many other things.

Our future-the future of God's beloved world-is impacted by the empowerment of women and girls.

For this we are grateful. And for a world that continues to empower women and girls so that we all might thrive, we continue to pray. And work.

Thanks be to the God who calls us all.

Peace,

Brandon

This Week's Assistance:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
Indiana, House Fire

 

Making a Difference in Darfur

It hardly seems possible.  For ten years now, Week of Compassion has been reaching out to the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese living in need in the region of Darfur.  Through the ACT Alliance, WoC has been able to faithfully channel our resources to those most in need—providing shelter, food aid, water, health care, educational resources, and even recreational items for children living in refugee camps.  The implementing ACT partner organization is Norwegian Church Aid, who has been tirelessly engaged in Darfur since the beginning of the humanitarian crisis.  Because of the enormity of the situation, ACT has also partnered with the Catholic humanitarian organization, Caritas, so that we, together, could make an even greater impact.  This year marks a decade of ACT-Caritas funding for the Norwegian Church Aid program in Darfur, one of the largest of its kind in the Sudanese region, which aims to assist nearly 500,000 people at about US$10 million this year alone. Week of Compassion gifts are a part of this ongoing work in what remains, sadly, one of the most desperate places on earth. 

We have made great progress, however.  As an ecumenical body of humanitarian actors working together to meet the needs of our sisters and brothers in Darfur, we have made significant strides in improving the quality of life for them.  We invite you to journey with us to Darfur, to meet those your Week of Compassion offerings have been assisting.  Look at their faces. Notice their names.  Read their stories.  Know that your compassion and generosity have made a difference. 

Ten years on, Darfuris still arriving at camps

Faces of Darfur reveal realities of camp

Voices from Darfur: Displaced civilians discuss camp

Access to clean water tangibly improved in Darfur

Facing down ostracism, lepers live with dignity in Darfur

As we know so well, no matter where in the world there is someone in need, as Christ’s body on earth, we all hurt.  When even one member of that body suffers, we all suffer.  But when even one is honored and remembered, we can all rejoice with that one member.  As we commemorate ten years of work in Darfur this year, please know how grateful we are for your partnership, faithfulness, and compassion.  Let us keep our Sudanese sisters and brothers in our prayers.  And let us continue to let them know that we have not—and will not—forget them. 

This Week’s Assistance:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Missouri, Kansas City Gas Explosion

Mozambique, Flooding

Development & Long Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Haiti, Trauma Recovery

Haiti, Recovery and Long-Term Development

10,080 Minutes for Mission: Week of Compassion 2013

How many minutes are there in one week?  How many minutes make up one Week of Compassion?  We often lift up “Minutes for Mission” during our worship services to help us understand exactly what we are doing in the world, and how our offerings are making that happen.  Even though I have always understood that there is only so much time available during a service, I must admit that I have always have been uncomfortable with giving just one minute (or two) to mission.  Surely our mission—our purpose—our calling deserves more than a minute. 

It also deserves more than a week, of course. Yet we devote this very week, the third week of February, to observing our Week of Compassion each and every year.  So I began thinking, how many minutes for mission could we theoretically lift up during one week?  There are 10,080 minutes in one week.  Could Week of Compassion share 10,080 “Minutes for Mission”? 

Yes.  Yes!  While there were four Minutes for Mission included in the Planning and Resource Guide this year, we could have easily shared 10,076 more with you. Here are more mission moments that highlight what your offerings from last Week of Compassion have made possible in 2012: 

 --Week of Compassion supported the building of disaster recovery mission stations in Joplin, MO, and Tuscaloosa, AL.  WoC's partnerships with local Long Term Recovery Organizations, local Disciples congregations, Disciples Volunteering, and in the case of Joplin, with the Disaster Response Ministry of the United Church of Christ (UCC), provided Disciples from all over North America with a chance to participate in the recovery of these communities and help people whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the tornado to get back home. 

--WoC provided solidarity grants to members of Disciples churches in New York and New Jersey who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy, many of whom lost their homes.  We also supported the work of Church World Service (CWS), which has provided material resources and long term recovery training in affected communities.  

--When the most unthinkable violence occurred in Newtown, CT, senselessly taking the lives of our children and their teachers, WoC gifts reached Central Christian Church in Danbury who helped us provide their partner agency, Families and Children's Aid (FCA), with copies of the children’s book dealing with trauma and violence, A Terrible Thing Happened which they distributed to children who have been affected by the Sandy Hook shootings.   

--WoC partnered with Foods Resource Bank and local growing projects connected to our congregations to help invest in food security in vulnerable communities all over the world.  We've been exploring the possibility of launching new growing projects in Lexington, VA; Hiram, OH; Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; and Visalia, CA. Such partnerships will help fight hunger all over the world.

--When congregations like First Christian Church, Longview, WA, or the Oakland Peace Center at First Christian Church, Oakland, CA, were vandalized, we responded by offering solidarity grants to help these congregations recover and heal.

--WoC gifts have been working to alleviate the needs of the thousands now displaced and on the run in Syria, where we are collaborating with the Middle East Area Office of Global Ministries, CWS, and International Orthodox Christian Charities, our partner in the ACT Alliance. WoC has helped to provide emergency assistance, food, water, and aid to refugee camps. 

--WoC offerings have gotten us one step closer to eliminating the childhood cancer, Burkitt’s Lymphoma, from the Great Lakes Region of Africa.  Through our partner IMA World Health, WoC has provided medicine and has supported public health education to help raise awareness of the symptoms of this treatable form of cancer. 

--Roma communities in Serbia have been changed as a result of WoC gifts.  Children who would otherwise never receive an education are now going to school, thanks to WoC-supported programs of CWS and local educational organizations. Roma women who have only dreamed of reading are now reading and writing thanks to WoC offerings. 

--WoC gifts empower displaced youth and young adults in the Republic of Georgia to receive schooling, training, and welcome at the Tbilisi Youth House Foundation, a partner of CWS.  The youth gather at the Youth House to socialize, enjoy recreational activities, find a safe haven, a nutritious snack, and to receive vocational training.   

--WoC offerings have been constantly at work in Haiti, where “Wozo” trauma healing and recovery trainings have been assisting people to cope with the trauma of the aftermath of the earthquake and remote communities are receiving medical attention for neglected tropical diseases and basic health care through IMA World Health.   

--Small stakeholder farmers in Liberia and Sierra Leone, primarily women, receive seeds, tools, support and solidarity in the form of WoC gifts as part of the West Africa Initiative of Agricultural Missions, a WoC partner in food security and community development. 

We could continue.  But I’m not sure how many of you would have the time to read the thousands more Minutes for Mission your Week of Compassion gifts have made real.  One week.  10.080 minutes.  Countless lives changed.  All because we shared.   

Sharing changes lives.  Sharing brings joy—52 weeks a year, thanks to your gifts during this one Week of Compassion.   

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

With profound gratitude and joy for your ongoing generosity, Amy

This Week’s Assistance:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Sri Lanka, Flooding 

Development & Long Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Chad, Sustainable Recovery

Mississippi, Solidarity Grant

Sharing Brings Joy to God! Week of Compassion Special Offering February 17-24, 2013

Have you ever imagined what brings joy to the Holy One?  We might wonder specifically how our sharing makes the heart of God sing. Scriptures help us understand this more fully; God seems to be pleased by:

  • steadfast love, justice, and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:24),
  • the well-being of God’s people (Psalms 35:27b),
  • a generous hand outstretched to help another (Matthew 22:37-40),
  • a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)

It seems that God experiences joy when we take actions that restore the well-being of God’s children everywhere.  What a marvelous concept to think about:  not only are we blessed over and over again by God, but we also have the opportunity to bless God!  When we reach out to others with helping hands, we share love and justice with our brothers and sisters with whom we are one.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul seemed to highlight financial gifts first as he encouraged the Corinthian church to give to the collection for those in need in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 9:6-15); but sharing never stops with coins or bills. Just as it was for Paul, the Corinthians, and the recipients of these gifts who lived in far-off Jerusalem, money is often the logical and practical step to providing the tangible gifts others need.  In our century, the funds we gather together and share during our Week of Compassion become very real gifts of love, joy, and restoration.  Indeed, they work to change lives around the world, around the year.

When we cannot physically go to meet needs in person, our gifts are sent together to assist others. Knowing we willingly share with them, others are reminded of who they are: beloved children of the Creator, family of us all, each one a person of sacred worth also imbued with possibilities for sharing joy. Thanksgiving to God will abound, and even more people will come to see how the Holy One works in and through us.  Surely such a sharing of joy makes God, our Divine Parent, joyous for a world made better by love.

As you commit your offering to Week of Compassion this year, remember the myriad of ways your gifts bring joy, to you as God’s precious child, to all of God’s cherished children, and especially to the Holy One. Share cheerfully and abundantly, knowing that you are not only sharing your resources, you are changing lives.  

May your worship this Lenten and Week of Compassion season be meaningful. May your sharing be delightfully abundant.  May God be made glad by your cheerful generosity.

As always, thank you.  To God be the glory!

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

California, Vandalism to First Christian Church Oakland and Oakland Peace Center

Mississippi, Tornado Relief

Mozambique, Flooding

Development & Long Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Balkans, Peacebuilding and Development

New Offering Envelopes, Crises in Syria and Somalia, and Fair Trade Chocolate

New Offering Materials for Week of Compassion, Feb. 17-24, 2013

You may have noticed, or will notice in the coming weeks, a new piece for our Week of Compassion special offering season.  Despite the address printed on the inside envelope of your Week of Compassion bulletin insert, we ask that you do NOT send those back to our office in Indianapolis but rather place them in the offering plates at your local church, just as you have always done. Please share this information with everyone in your congregation.                                                                                                                     

Allow me to give some more background.  Since 1950, Week of Compassion has been a part of the Ecumenical One Great Hour of Sharing Committee.  As participants since the inception of this ecumenical committee, we have striven to work in coordination with our sisters and brothers across the mainline Protestant spectrum who have also participated in the annual One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) special offering. While we have been receiving a special offering during the Week of Compassion since 1944, and have thus been called “Week of Compassion” ever since, the partnering denominations at the Ecumenical One Great Hour of Sharing table all refer to their special offering as “One Great Hour of Sharing.”  For a more detailed explanation of our relationship, please see http://onegreathourofsharing.org/week-of-compassion/.

The very first “One Great Hour of Sharing” offering was received in 1946 (to read a full history, visit http://onegreathourofsharing.org/the-history-of-one-great-hour-of-sharing/. As a faithful member of this ecumenical committee, Week of Compassion staff meet regularly with staff from other OGHS-participating denominations to design offering materials and resources together.  In this way, we are modelling wise stewardship of resources, both financial and human, as well as fostering on-going ecumenical and ecclesial relations. 

This past year, the OGHS Committee looked critically at our resources, the current state of our respective denominations and financial situations, and our materials and design.  In an attempt to decrease the costs of our materials, maintain our low overhead, and become ever more “green” and ecologically sustainable, together we decided upon a new piece that would combine our traditional bulletin insert with our standard offering envelope.  This has, admittedly, caused some confusion for our congregations as the piece is quite different from years past.  The ecumenical committee also decided to include the address of our general ministry on the outside of the envelope so that those who may not have been at church during Week of Compassion, or the homebound, or many of our donors who may no longer attend (or never did) Disciples congregations, could easily participate in the Week of Compassion special offering season.  The inclusion of our address at the Disciples Center was in no way intended to send a message that we hope our friends and supporters bypass the local congregation—on the contrary. 

It is our profound hope that our churches will use the new piece in exactly the way that they have always used the offering envelopes—and that they will be received during worship, collected by the congregation, and sent into our Week of Compassion office by the local congregation. 

We strive always to seek out fresh, innovative, creative, and thoughtful ways to do the work we have been called to do—to feed the hungry, house the homeless, offering healing to the sick, welcome the stranger, and alleviate suffering.  If we have offended anyone or any community in the process of attempting to experiment with a new type of offering material, we ask for your understanding, patience, and grace. 

We look forward to sharing the joy in giving with you this year, yet again, just as we have done since 1944. 

Do you have an iPhone? 

Consider downloading our new app, created by the Ecumenical One Great Hour Sharing Committee!  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/one-great-hour/id530683036?mt=8

Syrian Humanitarian Disaster

The situation is Syria only seems to be worsening. Through the Middle East and Europe Area Office of Global Ministries, Week of Compassion has been supporting the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue in Lebanon as they respond to the overwhelming humanitarian needs in Syria. Your gifts have supported thousands of persons who have been affected by the violent conflict and fighting in the city of Homs and Aleppo and are now displaced in the suburbs and surrounding countryside areas. Winter’s arrival has led to a new set of needs as the freezing temperatures increase the severity of the current crisis. Week of Compassion also continues to support the work of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) through the ACT Alliance and Church World Service as they continue to respond to the immediate needs of refugees, IDPs, and the churches. We ask for your prayers and support for the people of Syria and the surrounding areas as they endure this horrific humanitarian, political, and economic crisis. 

Somali Food Insecurity

More than 2 million Somali people remain food insecure as a result of drought (climate change), famine, and economic and political instability. Although this figure represents a 17% decrease in 6 months of the number of people living in the most dire levels of food insecurity, the total remains among the world’s highest. The food insecurity continues to cause displacement, resulting in increased pressure on already crowded IDP settlements around Mogadishu and in urban areas of Somaliland.  Week of Compassion has been supporting these refugee camps throughout the food and humanitarian crisis, thanks to your gifts. 

The climatic forecast for the upcoming months calls for a probability of above average rains. Although this may lead to improved agricultural and pasture conditions in some areas, the enhanced rains and high river levels are likely to lead to flash flooding in agropastoral areas and flooding in certain areas. Flooding is likely to disrupt agricultural activities, cause spreading of livestock diseases, damage communication infrastructure and limit trade. 

The Dadaab refugee camp received a massive influx of Somali refugees in the latter half of 2011. More than 160,000 new arrivals in 2012 brought the total population of the camp to 451,5003. While the basic services in the most recently opened Kambioos camp are still being established, 35,000 vulnerable refugees in this camp are in need of life-sustaining assistance, and 25,000 school aged children are at risk of abuse and exploitation in the absence of education structures.

Thus, Week of Compassion continues to support the incredible, life-saving, critical work of our international partners in the ACT Alliance as they respond to this drought-ravaged, famine-stricken land and its people.  Our prayer and our deepest hope is that we no longer have to write about food insecurity in the years to come...thank you for your ongoing gifts to support our sisters and brothers in Somalia.

Fair Trade Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

Show your love with fairly traded, delicious products that support small-scale farmers worldwide!  Remember, for every Equal Exchange fairly traded product you buy as a Disciple, Week of Compassion receives a portion of the proceeds back to support our Food Security Fund!  For chocolate hearts and other delicious items, visit Equal Exchange Website.

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:

Texas, Emergency Assistance for Refugee Family

Serbia, Improving Access to Safe Drinking Water

Malawi, Flooding and Windstorms Assistance

Solomon Islands, Earthquake and Tsunami Assistance

Syria, Humanitarian Crisis

Somalia, Humanitarian Support for Somali Refugees

Democratic Republic of Congo, Assistance to Internally Displaced People

Development & Long Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:

Texas, Support of Long-Term Recovery Work for Hurricane Sandy Relief

Hurricane Isaac and US Summer Storms 2012 Assistance

Florida, Support of the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers

Lafayette, Indiana Growing Project, Foods Resource Bank

Tackling Hunger: The Souper Bowl of CARING & Foods Resource Bank

 

Play in the Souper Bowl of Caring!

On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will take the field for Super Bowl XLVII, but off the field, nearly 300 Disciples of Christ congregations will tackle hunger across the nation by participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring www.souperbowl.org. The Souper Bowl is a great opportunity for youth and their congregations to learn about the magnitude of domestic and international hunger and learn about how God can use them to make a difference in their communities and across the world.

And it's so easy to do! The Souper Bowl of Caring is as simple as holding soup pots at church doors following worship this Sunday, February 3rd and asking worshippers to drop in a dollar (or more!) to help people who are hungry. Each participating group donates 100% of their collection to the charity of their choice, including Week of Compassion. All you have to do is:

REGISTER at www.souperbowl.org

COLLECT donations on Super Bowl Sunday

REPORT your collection at www.souperbowl.org

DONATE your collection to the organization of your choice

Can you imagine what would happen if the over 140 million people who watch the Super Bowl each year placed just $1 in the Souper Bowl of Caring soup pots after church on Feb. 3? Let's become Souper Heroes by working together to serve God by serving others. Go online today and register at www.souperbowl.org.

Start a Local Growing Project with Foods Resource Bank

Disciples congregations across the country are exploring another way to work for food security with our partners at Foods Resource Bank. Congregations from California to Virginia, Ohio to Texas, are considering ways they can use their own agricultural (and other) skills to support sustainable agriculture in the developing world by launching local growing projects (LGPs) . These unique projects foster relationships between communities from very different cultural contexts, and give congregations a great way to work against hunger all over the world. Over the years, Disciples congregations have supported growing projects that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to respond to support innovative food security work.

Week of Compassion and Foods Resource Bank have start-up grants available for Disciples congregations interested in local growing projects. To get started or for more information, contact Associate Director Brandon Gilvin bgilvin@woc.disciples.org.

These are but two of the many ways we can all partner together to respond to Jesus' call to care for our neighbors. Won't you join with us to end hunger by reaching out with Courageous Compassion?