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United Methodists Produce Resources to Aid in Coping With Disaster, Tragedy

United Methodist Communications
Office of Public Information
810 12th Ave. S.
Nashville, TN 37203
Web site:www.umc.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2005

Contact:Diane Denton
(615) 742-5406 (office)
(615) 207-9314 (cell)

United Methodists Produce Resources
to Aid in Coping With Disaster, Tragedy

NASHVILLE - United Methodist Communications has produced a new video and study guide to help people cope with the spiritual and emotional impact of disasters such as the Asian tsunami.

God Why? Teachings from the Tsunami explores the central question of why such tragedies happen and to explore our understanding of God's role in them. The study guide provides a basis for group study and discussion.

"The information age has made it possible for us to vicariously experience events happening around the world as if we were part of them. It's natural for people to feel overwhelmed, hopeless or helpless in the wake of a disastrous event," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "These emotions may lead people to struggle with questions and doubts that challenge their faith."

Hollon said that the resources give people practical, spiritual answers about God's role amid crisis and natural disaster, but are just as relevant for people suffering personal tragedies.

"The tsunami was the trigger for many people to think about these issues, but the suffering we go through when other tragedies occur is no less reason for us to ask the same questions. The reality is that suffering events such as these is universal. It is a time when we are up against the limits of our human abilities. The central issue is how people cope with the experience of grief including the questioning of God and God's purpose, the feelings of hopelessness and aloneness when we lose someone we love, the sense that life has no purpose in such situations, and the struggle to make a random event meaningful," said Hollon.

Designed for use by adults and older youth, the resources can be used by local churches in Sunday school classes, worship services or with grief support groups. The DVD includes personal accounts and reflections from church leaders, as well as scenes of the devastation left by the tsunami. It is accompanied by a CD containing resource materials such as graphics, hymn suggestions, promotional posters and study materials that are divided into two 60 to 90 minute sessions. The study materials are subdivided into smaller components for longer-term study. There are also photos and feature stories for use in church newsletters or web pages.

The cost of the video and study guide is $19.95, with discounts available for larger quantities. It can be ordered through the denomination's Web site at
www.umc.orgor by calling (888) 346-3862.