Monday, January 03, 2005

You May Already Be Sharing9.0 earthquake, 500 mile an hour tidal waves, 60 feet high walls of water mixed with concrete block and palm tree trunks. These basic facts have become well known. The day after Christmas became something like the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" for southeast Asia.Less well known is that the day after that, a Sunday, was a day for giving and sharing whose impact will not be known for some time to come.In faith communities around the world, across the United States, and right here in Licking County where the roads to church were often still blocked by downed trees and power lines, churches and congregations started to open up their hearts and wallets in record numbers.Governmental assistance will fly the helicopters and float the large machinery for de-salting water and treating waste, but much of the disaster response will come from church-related groups that were heading into the affected area even before many of us knew the tragedy had occured.In fact, you may have already given aid to the relief effort. Licking County has a CROP Walk each fall, largely made up of walkers along a ten kilometer route who got pledges from fellow worshipers and neighbors (you?). CROP Walks are a major part of the budget for Church World Service (CWS), the combined agency for 36 Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations to deal with international emergencies like floods, famines, or . . . earthquakes and tsunamis.CWS already has $900,000 in supplies on the way to Indonesia and Sri Lanka out of what they have on hand, and hope to send millions more.(See to share more in their work.)Catholic Relief Services is "the official international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic community"(See for their web site and secure link for donations.)Representing the 23% of the U.S. that is Catholic, they have sent $500,000 in aid and commit to another $25 million on behalf of their 60 million members.Five million souls are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Lutheran World Relief has sent $150,000, with a pledge of more to come.(See and follow the links.)Even more modestly sized denominations like the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with less than a million members in the U.S. and Canada have sent $55,000 to expedite shipping for CWS, and pledge a minimum of $250,000. They work through another co-operative body, "Week of Compassion," known in other denominations as "One Great Hour of Sharing," where the money and materials for disaster relief is held ready for a time like this.(See for denominational links and donation options.)What all of these relief agencies have in common, along with their work in our names, are two more things.Each effort notes the importance of prayer in supporting the hearts and intentions of those who are face to face with tragedy, and they all remind us, cautiously, that the needs in places like western Sudan and Afghanistan continue.It's good that we've often already given, but the work clearly goes on. At least we're not alone, in many ways!

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