Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
helping churches think ahead for disaster readiness
Week of Compassion is part of the Willing to Respond network, providing a registry of willing congregations and a library of vetted resources, to connect churches and organizations for disaster preparedness and response.
To mark National Preparedness Month (September), Week of Compassion is sharing the current issue of the Willing to Respond newsletter, sent every other month to registered Disciples congregations. WTR also provides churches with training, tips, and tools to reduce risk and be ready to assist neighbors when disaster strikes.
For information and to register as a WTR congregation, go to WillingToRespond.org
Welcome to this Week of Compassion special newsletter, focused on domestic disaster preparedness
and networking congregations registered with Willing to Respond. Each issue (every other month) highlights preparedness resources, congregational impact, and quick-connect actions for congregational life.
DID YOU KNOW?
September is National Preparedness Month and a good opportunity for congregations to consider ways to build or strengthen their capacity to better serve their communities during and after an emergency. In the work of disaster response, Week of Compassion sees firsthand what a difference it makes to a church - and to the whole community - when steps have been taken ahead of time.
The Central Office of Disciples in Puerto Rico notes that a congregation hosted a First Aid and AED certification training for deacons and ushers, and ran a drill to test their evacuation plan. These kinds of proactive steps help to build the skills for their members to appropriately respond in the event of a medical emergency at church. It also communicates care and safety for older-adult members at their congregation, while simultaneously strengthening relationships with local firefighters and other local organizations that can be key to know during a disaster response. One simple proactive event can have ripples of benefits, and September can be a great month to plan one.
National Preparedness Month resources from Ready.gov focus on protecting older adults. The information is accessible in various languages. Churches can be a critical lifeline for older adults, who make up a large percentage of many congregations, and who may rely on the church as their primary network of support.
Later in September, the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will have a series of action days for Protecting Houses of Worship. Events include webinars for preparing in the event of an active shooter(September 19 and 20) and a virtual tabletop discussion (September 21) around protecting Houses of Worship.
IT'S HOT ... DISCIPLES RESPOND
What started as a way of finding solutions to the impact of high heat on people’s physical and mental health, has grown into multiple cooling centers offering compassionate care.
Arizona Faith Network – an interfaith group directed by Disciples pastor, Rev. Katie Sexton-Wood – created a cooling center project including multiple Disciples of Christ congregations in the Phoenix area. The Heat Relief Initiative started with three churches and has grown to 15 centers with 53 paid employees, operating five months out of the year. The centers offer employment opportunities to unsheltered community members, isolated older adults, and members of local churches. They have also become places where guests can connect with other wrap-around services while they find respite from the brutal heat.
Excess urban heat is being felt in metropolitan areas across the U.S. In 2022, the CDC, which actively tracks daily and weekly heat related illnesses, reported that 1,708 people died of heat-related illnesses in the US, a 40.7% increase since 2018.* Because extreme temperature events are not eligible for declaration as federal disasters and resources for response are often limited, the involvement of churches can be vital to protecting those at risk.
If your church is already responding to the needs of people during extreme weather like high heat, we would love to support you. And if your church is considering a response, we can connect you with resources in your area. Contact Raiza Spratt or Caroline Hamilton-Arnold for more information.
*2022 data is provisional. Heat-related deaths were identified using ICD codes P81.0, T67, and X30. Deaths with underlying cause W92 were excluded. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NPR.org
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