The pastors of the Philadelphia Area (Peninsula-Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania Conferences) held its annual “Lenten Day Apart” with me, Bishop Peggy A. Johnson at the Aldersgate UMC in Wilmington, DE on March 4, 2019. There was a major presentation by Bishop Hector Ortiz, the bishop of the Methodist Church or Puerto Rico. He described the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and described the subsequent recovery work. Volunteer in Mission teams from all over the world, including our area, have come to the island and given thousands of hours of service and many dollars toward this effort. The Philadelphia Area has also participated in the recovery by donating to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. This fund primarily aids in the relief projects of the communities affected and not for the repair of church buildings. Some have donated to help rebuild the many damaged Methodist churches in the area as well.
As we prepared for the “Lenten Day Apart” the Mid-Atlantic Foundation of the UMC generously offered a challenge grant of $10,000 toward the recovery work in Puerto Rico. Pastors were asked to take a special offering and bring their donations to the March 4th event. As a result, the following offering was received: Peninsula Delaware - $11,613.50, Eastern PA - $10,417 and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation - $10,000. This comes to a total of $32,030.50.
When Bishop Ortiz heard the news he wrote to us the following email: “Grace and peace to you and the brothers and sisters of the Eastern PA and the Peninsula-Delaware Conferences. Your commitment to being with us by means of VIM groups, offerings, and prayers are proof of God’s greatness and the sensitive hearts of our brothers and sisters in your Conferences. Receive our thanks in the name of the people of our island and the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. We are looking forward to receiving the next team this coming June.”
The next VIM team will be traveling to PR from the Eastern PA Conference on June 15th. The team will be led by Rev. Nicholas Camacho, an elder in the conference and a native of Puerto Rico. He will personally hand deliver our check to the bishop and the funds will be used for the continual work of reconstruction of a badly damaged home. The owner of this home did not qualify for federal assistance and they are very grateful for our help.
Thanks to all who have worked so hard to raise this money and for our challenge grant from the Mid-Atlantic Foundation. We are doing the work of God and being Christ’s hands and feet in mission.