By Kathy Bryson

Too often we only think about disasters when they strike. The Pacific Northwest is not immune to floods, fires. earthquakes or tornados. When a disaster does strike, the community turns to those they trust – your church can be that safe refuge of support, comfort and hope. The visible presence of the church is an essential ministry in times of crisis.

Are you prepared? The truth is, we can be preparing now as individual disciples, as congregations, and as communities to be ready for and mitigate the effects of the next disaster.

“Connecting Neighbors” is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) program that gives congregations the tools and information needed to guide the development of their disaster response ministries. Congregations that invest time in “Connecting Neighbors” training are better prepared for what emergencies may come, able to draw on local resources more quickly in the wake of a disaster, and more confident that United Methodists will be a resource for community recovery. While Connecting Neighbors is a program from UMCOR, each United Methodist Conference is responsible for introducing and implementing the program for the congregations in the conference.

UMCOR-qualified trainers from the PNW Conference are ready now to support local churches with the Connecting Neighbors training. Workshop attendees learn how to identify types of disasters likely to impact the community, assess immediate needs and the church’s resources to meet those needs. Guidance connects the local church to outside resources, the community’s emergency plans, develops a system of communications, and much more. The training is composed of three half-day workshops and can be tailored to the needs of each individual church.

For more information or to arrange a workshop contact Terry Reddick, Connecting Neighbors Coordinator, at or PNW Disaster Response Coordinators Kathy and Dana Bryson at

Kathy Bryson is the Pacific Northwest Conference Early Response Team Coordinator (ERT) and a United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) certified ERT trainer. Along with her husband, Dana, she also serves as PNW Disaster Response Coordinator.

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