September 14, 2020
As we prepare for our Annual Conference Session, my heart goes out to all of you as we face yet another struggle – a new season of fires across our Conference and the entire Western region of the country. The suffering caused by these devasting fires affects everyone, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have profound concern for persons and families who have lost loved ones as well as their material possessions. We also know that these disasters disproportionally affect communities of color and vulnerable populations.
As a Conference, our disaster response is stretched and challenged, but we do not give up hope. We trust in the One who never abandons us; God who is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
We are so very grateful for our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) who once again is partnering with our Conference Disaster Response Ministry in responding to the immediate needs of those most affected by the recent and ongoing fires, and is committed to working with us for the long run as we strive to extend compassionate care to hurting communities.
Our pastors, district superintendents and conference staff continue to monitor the areas, communities and churches being directly affected by the fires. Even now, we are coordinating with our local churches to identify volunteers who can participate in the disaster response.
We are working closely with local Voluntary Organizations Aiding in Disasters (VOADs) to be present at Local Assistant Centers where the victims are searching for initial relief. At this time, we have been present at the Santa Cruz County LAC, offering relief support to the families affected by the CZU Fire. As we build our volunteer capacity, we plan to support the disaster relief efforts in other affected areas as well.
I am deeply moved by your faithfulness. In your own suffering, you continue to be filled with compassion and mercy that leads you to care for those who are being evacuated or have been left homeless due to the fires. Let’s keep praying for those families and individuals affected by the fires, for the firefighters and first responders working tirelessly to save lives, save homes, properties, and provide shelters, and for one another.
As you are able would you also join me in financially contributing to UMCOR and our Conference Disaster Response Fund so that this critical life-saving work can continue. Please send your gifts to both to our Conference Treasurer, Diane Knudsen, at PO Box 980250, West Sacramento, CA 95798-0250. Please add a note in the memo line of your check letting us know where you would like for your gift to go.
May our Good Shepherd carry us all through this time and keep us safe.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño