Like many people, I anticipated the arrival of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for some time. Although I was not in my current position with UMCOR at the time of those terrible events, I recall feeling a sense of pride as a United Methodist pastor serving in a local congregation that "my" church was responding.
UMCOR responded as it always does, with special attention to the most vulnerable populations. Love in the Midst of Tragedy was UMCOR’s three-tiered response to those events. In addition to focusing on the most vulnerable survivors and other affected people, its programs promoted peace and reconciliation and also extended a hand to a displaced Afghan population that was returning home after two harsh decades.
It is fitting that at this tenth anniversary of 9/11 UMCOR continues to build on its response to that tragedy as it addresses current emergencies around the world. In just the past six months, these have included the triple disaster in Japan; a rash of violent tornadoes through the US South; a third straight year of record flooding in North Dakota; a still unfolding recovery in Haiti; epic flooding caused by back-to-back hurricanes/tropical storms along a string of Eastern states; and wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres in Texas.
Yes, it is fitting that UMCOR should honor those who experienced not only the horror of 9/11 but the solidarity and self-giving that were part of the response to the events of that late-summer day by continuing to be present in times of emergency or disaster, to offer a hand and to offer hope.
*Rev. Cynthia Fierro Harvey is the head of UMCOR.
You can also read 9/11 reflections from the General Board of Global Ministries General Secretary Thomas Kemper here.