Disaster Early Response Teams
The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference has a robust Disaster Ministry that provides individuals and local churches the opportunity to serve as the hands and feet of God for those impacted by natural or man-made disasters locally and around the world.
EARLY RESPONSE TEAMS
When disaster strikes, United Methodists provide on the ground support to help those in need. Early Response Teams, ERTs, are trained members of United Methodist churches that deploy to support in areas of need. Locally, the Baltimore-Washington Conference trains and deploys Early Response Teams to assist in relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts locally and around the world.
These Early Response Teams (ERT) serve in the early days after a disaster to provide a Christian presence to support survivors. These trained servants also perform damage assessments, clean up, debris removal, and take measures to prevent further damage. ERT members are not first responders. All deployments are coordinated efforts and require an invitation by the host annual conference Episcopacy Office. ERTs do not self-deploy without the invitation.
To serve on an Early Response Team, members complete an eight-hour basic certification course and a background check. Upon completion of this training, individuals receive an official identification card from UMCOR which allows access to disaster sites during times of deployment. Every three years after certification, team members attend a four-hour re-certification course to learn new techniques/guidelines, along with completing a new background check.
Training is offered in various locations throughout the year. Please contact the BWC Disaster Response Coordinator, Pastor Fred Sipes, or call him at 410-967-9134 for the most recent training opportunities or to answer your questions.
The BWC also operates two Disaster Relief Hubs, where cleaning buckets with relief supplies are collected. These hubs extend the reach and service opportunities of Mission Central, located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Together, this connection of sites work to “Connect God’s Resources with Human Need.” In 2021, Mission Central served more than 5.4 million people with resources valued at more than $17.3 million.
Several times throughout the year, there is a request for local churches to assist in ensuring these essential resources are available. The lists below can help you to respond to the call for help.
Within the BWC, supplies can be taken to:
ST. MATTHEWS UMC HUB
14900 Annapolis Road
Bowie, MD 20715
HUB Coordinators: David Winters, 202-369-3553; and Bob Fuller, 202-498-0567
BENTLEY SPRINGS HUB
421 Bentley Road
Parkton, MD 21120
HUB Coordinator: Fred Sipes, 410-967-9134
UNITED METHODIST COMMITTEE ON RELIEF (UMCOR)
As part of the General Board of Global Ministries, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the globe. UMCOR helps communities left vulnerable by disaster, working alongside United Methodist churches and local partners to address immediate needs, as well as achieve sustainable recovery. In the short-term, UMCOR provides funds to our partners to distribute food, hygiene supplies, shelter and other basic needs to ease human suffering. In the long-term, we work with local partners towards recovery and reconstruction.
All funds donated to UMCOR assist in resourcing ERT teams across the denomination, issuing financial support to partner organizations providing critical support and directly serving the needs of survivors, both locally and abroad. Consider supporting UMCOR Sunday which is typically the 4th Sunday of Lent. This annual day of giving provides resources to undergird the operational costs associated with operating this incredible organization. If you would like to make a donation, visit UMCOR Areas of Impact - Giving.
MAKE A PLAN
In the event of disaster in this region, the Baltimore-Washington Conference operates in accordance to processes and protocols established by the BWC Disaster Response Manual.
FEMA, an UMCOR partner, provides the resource Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship. Consider creating a plan for your local congregation.
The FEMA App is your personalized disaster resource, so you feel empowered and ready to take charge of any disaster life throws your way.