Disaster Response

Scope of our Mission

Traditionally, the United Methodist disaster response has been called a ministry of pastoral care. Over time, the response has become much broader and now constitutes a multifaceted ministry of Christ’s Church in the areas of theological, material, mental health, advocacy and social services designed to provide for the spiritual, emotional and physical recovery of disaster survivors and for the well-being of their caregivers.

Overall Disaster Response Strategy

The Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference Disaster Response Team is an “umbrella” entity, meaning that it directs physical, monetary, and volunteer resources where needed within our area. It is not a “first responder” agency such as a fire department, EMS, or even the Red Cross. We work as part of the the Pennsylvania Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to organize resources within an area and coordinate response with state, federal, and non-profit agencies with common guidelines and principles.  We are positioned to step into a situation typically in day two or three of an event and to provide near-term and long-term assistance as appropriate.

Western Pennsylvania UMC's Disaster Response Coordinator is Leslie Foland.  You can reach Leslie by email at DisasterResponse@wpaumc.org or by phone at (814) 844-3294.  If there is a disaster (humanitarian or natural) in your area, please call to report it to Leslie and your District Office.

WPAUMC's Disaster Response Plan, revised in early 2020, serves as a structure that clearly explains who does what; when and under what circumstances when a disaster strikes within the conference. The plan provides guidelines, suggestions, and specific assignments for various Conference personnel who will be involved in the response to a disaster.

Early Response Team Training 

This is an UMCOR certified training for Disaster Response ministries of Volunteers in Mission. Non-United Methodist participants are welcome but will not be badged or deployed through the UMCOR-UMVIM ministry network. Clearances are required from United Methodists on the day of the training.  

The Disaster Response Ministry is a way for us to go out of the Church Building and provide a Caring Christian Presence to the survivors of Natural Disasters. We primarily respond within the Western PA Conference, but there are times when we are asked to travel to other Conferences. When we travel to support other conferences, a current badge is required.  

UMCOR has changed the rules for recertification effective December 31, 2021. You can currently do the recertification class if you expired during the second half of 2019 or during 2020 and 2021. These two classes will be last ones that you can take to recertify through the four-hour class.  

The new rule will only let you recertify if your badge expiration date is less than six months past.  If your badge is more than six months past then you will need to do the basic training class again.  

UMCOR has enabled us to utilize virtual training for recertifications. Please prayerfully consider registering for one of the classes and continue serving the Lord through the Disaster Response Ministry. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Leslie Foland at disasterresponse@wpaumc.org.

Early Response Team Basic Training

Watch here for upcoming training opportunities and registration links.

Early Response Team Recertification Training

For more information contact Leslie Foland at disasterresponse@wpaumc.org