Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Minnesota Annual Conference has been in ministry with the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone for 25 years through local nonprofit mission OC Ministries. United Methodists from across the state have built, renovated, and supported 22 schools, clinics, churches, and other projects in these West African countries. Our conference’s involvement began before rebel-led wars broke out in both countries, remained during those conflicts, and continues to this day.
West Africa is now facing another crisis: The largest Ebola outbreak in recorded history has ravaged the region. There have been more than 1,500 confirmed deaths, and more than 3,000 others have been infected, with the count going up every day. United Methodists are among those who have lost their lives to this devastating disease.
The global United Methodist Church is responding to the Ebola crisis in a variety of ways. To date, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has sent $383,000 in grants to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Funds are supporting tents and the construction of isolation units, personal protective equipment, training for health staff, public messaging about Ebola, and safe handling of deceased bodies. The grants are also providing much-needed healthcare supplies.
Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone recently said, “One person who dies of Ebola is one too many. God calls on us to bring healing and hope.” He and Rev. Priscilla Jaiah from the Liberian city of Ganta will be at the OC Ministries 25th anniversary banquet, taking place from 6-8 p.m., Saturday, October 4, at Rosemount United Methodist Church (14770 Canada Ave. W., Rosemount). The event is free and open to all, and it will celebrate and recount the work of OC Ministries and lay out the vision for an OC Ministries Foundation for long-term relief and building efforts.
Please lift up in prayer the people who live under the fear of Ebola, the families of those who have died, and the health professionals who are caring for people who have this disease. We also urge you and your congregation to extend your generosity to support UMCOR’s International Disaster Relief Advance #982450, which is being used for the Ebola emergency response plan. And last, please consider attending the OC Ministries banquet in October to learn more about the needs of our sisters and brothers in Christ in West Africa and to explore how we can continue to be in ministry with them.
In Christ’s love,
Bruce R. Ough
Resident Bishop, Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area
Rev. Lyndy Zabel
Director of Missional Impact, Minnesota Annual Conference
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church