Gregory A. Forrester, who has conducted several Volunteers in Mission training sessions in Western PA, has been hired to lead the United Methodist Church’s disaster response efforts in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). He’ll begin May 1.
Noting Forrester's experience as Volunteer in Mission (VIM) coordinator for the Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ), Thomas Kemper, chief executive of the General Board of Global Ministries said, "I met Greg for the first time some years ago in Haiti, where I was impressed by his energy and sensitivity in contributing to the response to the earthquake.
"I am excited for Greg to join Global Ministries in this leadership position at UMCOR,” he added. “Greg's relationship with annual conferences and his understanding of the church's role in responding to disasters make him an ideal candidate."
In the UMCOR post, Forrester will work with United Methodist annual conferences, bishops, and disaster response coordinators. He will provide program support, including guidance, training, and mentoring, to annual conferences, local churches, and UMCOR partners to prepare for and respond to disasters. The position is based in New York City.
Since 1999, as the NEJ VIM coordinator, Forrester has implemented mission and outreach ministries in local, national, and international settings. He has developed training materials for volunteers and early response teams.
When Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused significant damage in 2011 to communities in the Upper New York Conference, where he lives, Forrester led the first early response teams into the affected areas. Since then, he has served as the conference's recovery director.
He has been involved with UMCOR in the US and internationally since 1995 and was part of a process to strengthen partnerships between VIM jurisdictional offices and the Global Ministries Mission Volunteers office in coordination with UMCOR.
These relationships, he said, "bore fruit in our responses to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy."
The General Board of Global Ministries is the global mission agency of The United Methodist Church. It has personnel, projects, and partners in 136 countries and incorporates UMCOR and the Advance for Christ and His Church, the denomination's designated mission giving channel. UMCOR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering; its work reaches people in more than 80 countries, including the United States. UMCOR provides humanitarian relief when war, conflict, or natural disaster disrupt life to such an extent that communities are unable to recover on their own.