OGHS podcast with the Rev. Denise Honeycutt, Director of UMCOR
Episode Highlights00:22 // Rich introduces the Rev. Denise Honeycutt and welcomes her to the show.
00:56 // Denise gives us a bit of history of UMCOR.
02:29 // Denise talks about the work in which UMCOR is involved.
04:21 // Denise talks about some of the complexities of dealing with disaster corridors.
05:55 // Denise talks about UMCOR’s continued work in Haiti.
08:18 // Denise talks about the One Great Hour of Sharing offering and its impact.
10:28 // Denise explains how One Great Hour of Sharing funds are used.
11:02 // Denise shares the vision of UMCOR and quotes Christy Howes.
12:28 // Denise offers contact details and encourages churches to participate in the One Great Hour of Sharing.
13:38 // Denise and Rich agree that United Methodists should be proud of who they are and how they make a difference in the world.
Episode TranscriptRich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the One Great Hour of Sharing podcast. As we count down to that very Special Sunday in our church calendar it’s our privilege today to have the top executive, the top dog, Denise Honeycutt with us today. Denise welcome to the show.
Denise – Thank you, it’s great to be here.
Rich – I’m so glad that you’ve taken some time out from your busy schedule. Second time on the show, it’s nice to connect a year later, to kind of get a little bit of an update on where things are at. I thought maybe what we could do is we could start, this is the 75th anniversary of UMCOR.
Denise – Exciting, pretty exciting isn’t it?
Rich – Yeah why don’t you tell us a little bit about your role, refresh our memory there and then kind of give us an overview of UMCOR for those people who don’t know, what is UMCOR?
Denise – Okay. UMCOR is the relief and development arm of The United Methodist Church. When folks want to be in places where there’s a disaster, when folks want to make a difference in the world, we are the avenue through which they can do that, in the United States and around the world.
So this year is very exciting, the 75th anniversary of UMCOR and looking back at how we began in 1940. World War II was raging, there was people suffering all around the world and Bishop Welch, he was 78 years old, he had retired, he stood up at general conference and named, “We need to be making a difference in the world, we need to be responding.” So that was the very beginnings of what has come to be known and still is known around the world as UMCOR, The United Methodist Committee on Relief.
So it’s a pretty exciting time looking at 75 years of being in ministry with the people here in the US and in other parts of the world.
Rich – Yeah it’s amazing, it’s a big anniversary. At 75 years old, lots of organizations tend to be maybe dying on the vine, not as vibrant as they once were, but that’s not that case with UMCOR. Why don’t we talk a little bit about this last year, one of the things by the nature of what UMCOR does, it’s not like you can always predict where things are going in the coming year, but since we last spoke what are some of the things that UMCOR have been involved with around the world?
Denise – Well it’s been pretty amazing the way that we have been able to respond to those very large events that happened that we can see on our news but also the ones that strike me, looking at this last year, are those disasters that never made it to the US news.
Rich – Yes.
Denise – For example, we have been in over 35 countries for disaster response.
Rich – Wow.
Denise – Disaster response in the last year. Yeah, over $8 million has been given, and those are things in places, that again, we might not have heard about in the United States, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Chile.
One of the things that we are seeing in disaster is the rise of refugees because of conflict or war in countries. We even see migration corridors that are being established, sort of as people are exiting. If you think about Syria for example, even in the United States we’ve seen this, and these migration corridors, as we look up to the next year, to the next coming years, are places that we see, in some ways that we might need to even name as disaster corridors, where we can respond, not only when people get to the place where there’s refugee camps, but how can we accompany them and make it safe as they move forward into those places?
Rich – That’s fascinating. Why don’t you give us a bit of a sense, I can imagine, like you said, those disaster corridors, some of the risks that would be involved with that kind of migration, but flush that out a little bit for us, what are some of the complexities that you’re seeing in a situation like that?
Denise – Well even basic necessities. Is there food along the way? How do we care for the education needs of folks as they are journeying? How do we accompany folks so that it’s a safe journey? And once people arrive, one of the things we know is, it’s not just caring for those folks who have found themselves displaced, but the host countries and the host communities sometimes can be doubled in size. So how do we provide care for the children that are coming but also the communities that are trying to meet those needs?
So those are areas that we are looking at. We have great staff who are working also with the countries and the communities who are accompanying these folks as they make that journey.
Rich – Now obviously I appreciate what you outlined at the beginning, there’s a lot of disasters that we just frankly don’t hear about, and UMCOR is there. It doesn’t need to necessarily meet the nightly news. I don’t know if people watch the nightly news anymore. They don’t necessarily need to make the cable news, but there’s lots of other things, but there’s an anniversary of a significant disaster that did hit everywhere, it went big on the press, and that’s Haiti.
Denise – Yes.
Rich – I think it’s been five years since that disaster. How has UMCOR, when you look back on that disaster, what has the response been like and what does that, from this vantage point, looking back?
Denise – When you think of something that happened five years ago, for many of us we think, “Oh yeah, that’s in the past, it’s done, it’s over.” But for UMCOR, we are still very active in Haiti, working with many, many partners.
One of the things we pride ourselves on and that we are working toward, is not just offering support to those partners that we work with in Haiti, but also building capacity of local communities so that they can, not just survive but that they might be able to thrive. So how can we provide education? How can we provide help? How can we provide systems to put in place so that communities can then be able to even better live in that area?
So we’ve done things like small loans to communities. I think of one community where they’re doing recycling in their own community, they’ve set up a recycling center. What that has done is not only provided better help for the folks there but it’s provided a vocation because the funds go back into the community and that’s just one example of what we’re doing.
So we continue to work in Haiti. We still have a plan that will last at least through 2017, where we will be accompanying them as they continue to work from relief to recovery to development.
One of the best things I think we can do, is help folks identify their own gifts and their own assets there at Haiti, which there are many, so that they then can develop on their own, the programs and lives that they want to live.
Rich – Absolutely and one of the things I love about UMCOR is, even just what you’ve talked about, it’s kind of like the very tip of the spear, when something disastrous happens, that we may not even hear about, it’s almost like the pride of being the last responder, there for a long time as well, continuing to make a difference. I think that’s one of the amazing things about UMCOR and the privilege that we have to support the good work that you’re doing.
Actually that’s a great time to maybe shift a little bit and talk about One Great Hour of Sharing. What is One Great Hour of Sharing, for people that are listening in that don’t know what that is?
Denise – It’s the opportunity to give to UMCOR that provides the base of all of our work. It provides the administrative cost of doing business in the world. That’s important because then that allows, when there is a disaster that people can give directly to that, for that specific disaster, and 100% of their funds go to that. So it really provides the foundation for all the work that we do in UMCOR.
I think about Ebola this year, it’s just devastating to several countries, and we were able to respond and still continue to respond to that because any funds that we have in addition, over and above what people might give, we then are able to respond, even before we ask for funds.
So the One Great Hour of Sharing is the way that churches and individuals say, “Yes, I want to be a part of meeting needs all around the world, whether I know that’s happening or not, and the way I do that is provide that ground funding.” And that’s what the One Great Hour of Sharing does.
Rich – Absolutely, a part of what UMCOR, this organization, is fantastic for is, you’re providing, through this One Great Hour of Sharing, you’re providing the funds to help, really like you’re saying, provide the kind of base operations.
The sad reality of it is, when something like Ebola happens that grabs worldwide attention, there are less than noble organizations that jump into action and see this as a fundraising opportunity, but because One Great Hour of Sharing is already happened, that’s created this base that you know, that you can trust, obviously UMCOR, and they’re going to jump into action and be able to respond right away, and the gifts that you give, then at that point, UMCOR are going to go right into the field. Isn’t that correct? Isn’t that how that works?
Denise – Yeah.
Rich – You’re not at that point giving to operational overhead cost, you’re actually making a difference to that project. Why don’t you talk us through a little bit about that?
Denise – Yes, when people give to UMCOR and when they give to a specific project, we want the total amount of that fund to go to that project. So that’s what One Great Hour of Sharing allows us to do. It pays for the staff, it pays for the infrastructure, it pays for us to do that work so that then when the money goes, it’s able to go more directly, well directly, to those folks who need and are the most in need.
Rich – Very cool.
Denise – Let me say one more thing.
Rich – Absolutely.
Denise – This year, as we think about 75 years of being in ministry, 75 years of alleviating human suffering, it’s just pretty incredible, but we are not just looking back, we are looking forward to the next 75 years. I’m really excited about how we can be on the cutting edge of meeting the needs, with the highest standards that there are, with the accountability that people rely on and expect.
In the latest New World Outlook magazine, I love the way Christy Howes said it, she said, “UMCOR, we are wired into our DNA, that hope and expectation that was there from the first, back in 1940, to answer the cries of the needy in the world.” We are wired for hope and for expectation. So that’s a pretty exciting way of looking, as we move into the future.
Rich – Absolutely, you know this would be a great year, if your church haven’t participated in One Great Hour of Sharing, this would be a great year to jump onboard and do this, with the 75th anniversary. UMCOR has literally helped millions of people around the world over these years and we’d love you to participate and this would be a great year to get you connected.
If people want to know more about UMCOR how can they do that, Denise?
Denise – They can go to our website, www.umcor.org. We also, as churches celebrate, we hope that many churches will choose March 15th to celebrate, to have an UMCOR Sunday if you will, where they take up the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. We’ve got a video that we want to send to every church, they can also download that will soon be up on our website that celebrates the 75 years, it looks back over what we’ve done and looks forward to the future.
So I want those churches to say, “Hey, that’s us. We are the reason that we have done this work.” So March 15th, but we can celebrate anytime throughout the year, this 75 years of being hope and healing for the world.
Rich – Yeah absolutely. There’s a lot of reasons to have a certain amount of pride or be honored to be a part of the broader kind of United Methodist movement, but I think UMCOR is one of those shining lights, it’s really a fantastic organization that’s making all kinds of difference, so it’s our privilege to support it.
Denise, any parting words before we wrap up today?
Denise – Well I would just confirm what you’ve said. We should be very proud of who we are as United Methodists. We are making a huge difference in the world, and it’s only made possible because of the people who give to UMCOR. So I want to say thank you, thank you for making a difference in the world.
Rich – Thanks so much.
Denise – Yeah, good talking to you.
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