Four days after Super Typhoon Haiyan flattened part of the Philippines, relief is beginning to arrive to the area. United Methodists are among those starting to provide emergency supplies while assessing damages from the powerful storm – known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Though the Super Typhoon made direct hits on several Philippine islands on Nov. 8, much of the early media attention has centered on Tacloban, a Leyte Island city of 200,000 that was nearly destroyed.
Bishop Lowry is asking the people of the CTC to be in prayer for all those affected by and responding to the disaster. He also called on the churches of the Central Texas Conference to receive a special offering for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Philippines suffering from the onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan.
Central Texas Conference churches, small groups and/or individuals who wish to contribute to the funds for relief and recovery are asked to submit those donations to the Central Texas Conference Service Center. You may do so online via the (look for fund number 4641 under the Advance Specials & Other Givings section), or by mailing a check payable to CTC along with the () with “#4641” written on one of the form's available blank lines. Checks should be sent to Central Texas Conference, Attn. David Stinson, 464 Bailey Ave., Fort Worth, Texas, 76107.
About 200 United Methodist families live in the affected area, said Bishop , episcopal leader of the Davao Episcopal Area in central Philippines, which encompasses the islands devastated by the typhoon. “They need food, water, shelter and of course, the prayers of the people,” Bishop Francisco said.
The hardest hit area was the Visayas Philippines Annual Conference, where six of 28 local United Methodist churches were heavily affected. Thankfully, there was no immediate report of loss of life among church members.
The three active United Methodist bishops in the Philippines were not in the area when the storm hit as they are attending this week’s Council of Bishops meeting at Lake Junaluska, N.C. The destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan was on the minds of the entire council. During the Nov. 11 opening worship, Nashville Area Bishop William T. McAlilly prayed for those affected by storms “where lives are lost and homes destroyed and crops are drowned. … We ask you, oh Lord, to heal us, to save us that our hearts might be pure.”
With internet service down and power not expected to resume soon, communication with the affected area remains spotty and church-related reports are coming in via text messages. Several local church buildings in Leyte, Panay, Aklan and Capiz were damaged, according to reports, and homes of church members destroyed.
Retired Philippines Bishop Daniel C. Arichea Jr. said the broader United Methodist connection “is very important” to providing needed aid.
Many bishops, including Bishop Lowry and Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Harvey, a former top executive of UMCOR, have sent out a call for support for the Philippines.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief to provide emergency food, water and water purification tablets to 7,500 individuals (or 1,500 families) in Tacloban City. The funding also will help local UMCOR staff and volunteers build capacity to meet emergency needs.