In an article today in the Seattle Times, a local couple who are in Haiti were featured for participating in relief efforts. At the end of the article, the paper lists a number of relief organizations, without listing UMCOR or any mainstream religious aid relief organizations. In the scope of the tragedy, it may appear ridiculous for me to write them and request that the paper include UMCOR and like organizations, but I thought it worthwhile. I noticed that NPR had omitted us along with several other mainline relief organizations; I contacted NPR to no response. Here is my email to the author of today's article in the Times:
"At the end of the article that highlights the efforts of a Seattle couple caught in Haiti, the newspaper lists several organizations offering aid in Haiti. What I noticed, as I do again and again in newspaper accounts of Haiti, is a number of very large aid orgs that are missing. The aid relief arms of major religious denominations are not listed:
United Methodist Committee on Relief: www.umcor.org has a special relief fund of which 100% of every donation goes to relief, none for admin. Almost no other relief org can make this claim.
Lutheran World Relief: www.lwr.org is already on the ground as is UMCOR.
American Jewish World Service: http://ajws.org/who_we_are/news/haiti_emergency.html also has a relief fund.
This is but a sampling.
I know there are literally dozens if not hundreds of aid organizations to which people can contribute, but I am struck that time and again mainline religious organizations are omitted in aid lists. Religion only seems to be given attention when fringe groups misrepresent the core values of the overarching religion, whether we are speaking of Islam, Christianity, or Judaism. There are millions of people of faith from many religions giving millions of dollars and their time to relief work. Would you please list them as well?"
I encourage United Methodists, Lutherans, Jews, Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Mennonites, and others to contact your local news media with information about your relief organizations. Until we give voice to the power of our efforts to bring healing, not only will we remain left out of the conversation, but the people we have on the ground ready and and willing to help will be unable to do so for lack of funds and supplies. Religious groups, by and large, are the best situated to provide aid. Unlike the UN and nation-states, we don't have to mobilize and send people to begin the work; we are already there. They are needed for the heavy lifting and organizing, but there are people already in place ready to do the work; let's equip them.
UPDATE: The author of the article to which I responded got back in touch very quickly. He forwarded my email to the online editor. She emailed me just a minute ago and the Times is adding the three relief orgs I sent them. Perhaps I am too tough on the media. Perhaps I should be tougher on us for not keeping our name before the media, for not keeping the general public aware of our relief work, for not PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL DONE BY WORKS OF MERCY! So, thank you, Seattle Times!
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