Brethren Disaster Ministries Begins New Partnership for ‘Disaster Recovery Support Initiative’

Tim Sheaffer
Brandi Baker and Phyllis Hochstetler volunteer at the Brethren Disaster Ministries flood recovery site in northern Colorado.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has begun a new partnership for a Disaster Recovery Support Initiative, joining in with disaster programs of other Christian denominations. The ministry has requested an allocation of $5,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to help fund this pilot program to more quickly and effectively support the formation of Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) in communities affected by disaster.

In other news, recent allocations from the EDF also continue support for the Nigeria Crisis Response and the Brethren Disaster Ministries flood recovery site in northeast Colorado.

Disaster Recovery Support Initiative

This new initiative will be developed as a partnership with the disaster programs of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In this initiative, a three-person team of response specialists deployed within 2-6 weeks of an event will remain with the community for a period of 2-12 months, serving as a resource to the local recovery effort, the grant request announced.

The team that will be funded with help from the Church of the Brethren “will offer training, teaching, mentoring, and assistance to local LTRG staff and partners as they facilitate early identification, case management, and construction and volunteer management for affected individuals with clear unmet repair or rebuild needs.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries will act as the fiscal agent for this initiative, with additional matching funds provided by the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Funds will support travel to preliminary meetings with affected communities, as well as operational expenses related to volunteer support, including housing, food, and travel expenses incurred on site.

Nigeria crisis funding

In late July, the amount of $380,000 was allocated from the Emergency Disaster Fund, which encompasses the Nigeria Crisis Fund, to continue the response to ongoing violence in northeast Nigeria.

The Nigeria Crisis Response is focused on building capacity and supporting Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), providing longer-term programming, and lasting change for EYN and the whole region, said the allocation request from Brethren Disaster Ministries.

“Initial planning included a three-way partnership with EYN and Mission 21, but no funding support has materialized. As a result, an additional $70,000 of Church of the Brethren funds has been allocated beyond the 2015 budget,” the document reported.

Four Nigerian partner organizations that are nonprofit or addressing humanitarian needs–CCEPI, LCGI, WYEAHI, and FSCF–expand the outreach of the response to help those in the greatest need. Each has a direct connection to EYN, but are independent non-profits serving the displaced, and are receiving a portion of the Brethren funds. Discussions have begun with a fifth Nigerian organization called Education Must Continue, which supports the education of some of the escaped Chibok girls and children in the camps for displaced people, and a partnership agreement is expected to be reached later this year.

A US-based partnership with Christian Aid Ministries has resulted in the crisis response effort receiving an additional $140,000 in support of food and supply distributions in Nigeria. This new funding will help extend Brethren funds to other areas of the Nigeria crisis. Christian Aid Ministries is a channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptists to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.

Prior EDF allocations to support the Nigeria Crisis Response include $1,500,000 allocated on March 3, 2015; $500,000 allocated on Oct. 19, 2014,  at the fall meeting of the Mission and Ministry Board; $100,000 allocated on Sept. 20, 2014; and $20,000 allocated on Sept. 5, 2014. Total allocations made to the Nigeria Crisis Response between Sept. 5, 2014, and the present come to $2.5 million.

Colorado flood recovery

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed an allocation of $30,000 from the EDF to continue work at its rebuilding project in northeast Colorado. The project site is rebuilding homes damaged in flooding caused by heavy rains in Sept. 2013.

The Church of the Brethren response is focused on some of the most severely impacted areas in Weld, Larimer, and Boulder Counties in northeast Colorado, where 1,882 homes were destroyed and another 5,566 damaged. The Brethren Disaster Ministries project site is hosted in the city of Greeley.

“Considering the travel distance for the majority of Brethren volunteers, it has been necessary to have an ecumenical response in order to consistently have volunteers,” the allocation request said. Volunteers from the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ are supporting the project.

Funds underwrite operational expenses related to volunteer support including housing, food, and travel expenses incurred onsite, as well as volunteer training, tools, and equipment needed for rebuilding and repair.

For more information about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to . For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to .

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