Most disaster-relief work and funding occur through ongoing ministries. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) enters into a disaster at the request of the resident bishop or church partner. The request may be for financial or material resources, technical assistance or volunteers. An Advance number may be assigned to a specific project, so United Methodists may make “second-mile” (after the “first mile” World Service) donations.
United Methodists assist UMCOR through gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing. Observed on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, this churchwide Special Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing underwrite UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR keep its promise that every gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not for administrative costs.
When typical methods of disaster-response funding are inadequate, the area or conference may issue special emergency appeals. Resident bishops may call for an emergency appeal in their annual conference when a disaster affects a specific part of the United States.
Situations where the emergency in question is of catastrophic proportions may call for a churchwide appeal. The Book of Discipline outlines this appeal process.
Special appeals are United Methodism’s way of “quieting the storm to a whisper,” no matter what disaster – natural or human-caused – threatens the health and safety of God’s children.