Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As you are aware, Hurricane Harvey continues to cause tremendous devastation to the greater Houston area, forcing thousands to evacuate. When the waters subside, many people will return to discover their homes and businesses have been destroyed. Rebuilding will take weeks, months, even years. I know you have been keeping these people in your prayers; I ask you to continue. And I ask you to allow God to make you part of the answer to these prayers.

I have been in conversation with Bishop Scott Jones of the Texas Conference, and have reached out to Bishop Robert Schnase of the Rio Texas Conference assuring them of our prayers and to determine specific ways we can assist in the future, but right now there are two immediate material needs you and your congregation can meet:

1. Invite your congregation to take up a special collection one Sunday in September. Announce to your people which Sunday you will do this and ask them to be especially generous. You may forward these funds to the Conference Office with a single check, made out to Upper New York Conference with FUND # 481 – “2017 Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief” on the memo line.

2. Assemble Cleaning Kits (Flood Buckets) and bring these to the Mission Central Hub at the United Methodist Center.

In the future, Volunteers in Mission (VIM) will also be needed to help with the recovery. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will let us know when teams can be sent.

When I see the images of flooded homes and distraught people, my heart breaks, but I am reminded of God’s promise in Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you,” (Isaiah 42:3).

God does not abandon, but stands with us in the midst of the wreckage and will enable the people to recover. We are called and privileged to be part of God’s presence and work in this. And so, I ask you to offer your prayers, your dollars, and your time.

Grace and peace

Bishop Mark J. Webb