Bishop Calls for Hurricane Maria Response

Bishop Calls for Hurricane Maria Response

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Just a few days ago as Hurricane Maria was bearing down on the islands of the Caribbean, I reached out to you offering prayers on behalf of those who stood in its path and those with families and connections in the affected areas to stay strong, keep the faith, know that you are thought of, prayed for, and loved.

As we have now witnessed the destruction and loss of life in Mexico as a result of the earthquake and the destruction of both Irma and Maria and face the challenges of a long recovery effort, I am reaching out to you again.

Puerto Rico, as many of the other islands (now, all but out of the news), remains an emergency situation requiring a massive federal response. In Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, UMCOR, our primary disaster response agency, has been asked to provide support for relief supplies and other commodities. They are also prepared to offer additional support through funding, training, and project development once needs are identified.

In the non-US Territories, UMCOR is communicating with its partners and awaiting an assessment from them in order to provide appropriate and effective relief.

In addition, the NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) anticipates that there may be as many as 6,000 households from Puerto Rico and other islands who will seek temporary relocation in New York until things stabilize and they can safely return. As with Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, our churches may be called upon to assist in this effort.

Given the deep connections that New York Conference churches and communities have with Puerto Rico and a number of Caribbean islands, I am requesting that we make this response effort a priority for us as a Conference and for our churches. I am asking that all of our congregations designate Sunday, October 15, for a special offering in support of UMCOR’s and our Conference’s response effort in this area.

Please send your contributions directly to the New York Annual Conference Center.  Make your checks payable to NYAC and include "Bishop's Appeal - Hurricane Maria" in the memo line. Mail to:

The New York Annual Conference (NYAC)
20 Soundview Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606
Attention: Fran Collins

I have been in conversation with Tom Vencuss, our Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, on all of these matters.  We would like to meet with pastors from the Caribbean Mission Partnership and the NYAC Hispanic Council during the Tri-District Clergy retreat on Tuesday, October 3, over lunch, to provide updates and begin a dialogue around both short and long term response plans. If you are part of these groups we invite you to join us.

It is my hope that, when appropriate, we will be able to deploy volunteer recovery teams into the areas. I cannot stress enough that this is still an emergency situation where National Guard and first responders are taking the lead.  Our opportunity to organize recovery teams will and should only take place after we have received the appropriate clearances.  We want to make sure that we maximize our efforts as well as the safety of our people traveling into the region.  I am also looking to engage the Cabinet in a volunteer team effort sometime in the first half of 2018.  We most certainly would welcome you traveling with us. We must remember that this recovery, as with Texas and Florida, will take many years.

Please continue to pray for all those impacted by disasters throughout our country and world. And once again, stay strong, keep the faith, and know that are thought of, prayed for and loved.

The Journey Continues, . . .

Peace & Joy,

Thomas J. Bickerton, Resident Bishop