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Responding to Wildfires On Our Islands

Make a donation to the Hawai‘i Conference's Hawai‘i 2023 Wildfires Relief Fund:

Square info graphic. Background is pink, the official color of the island of Maui. Text reads DONATE with Hawai‘i 2023 Wildfires Relief Fund below it in a bar that is the UCC's shade of blue. There is a URL bit.ly/hcuccrelief, a QR code, a graphic of an extended hand and heart open toward the island of Maui that is part of an image showing the Hawaiian archipelago, the HCUCC logo is in the bottom right corner. Another text block reads We are working with our churches on Maui to distribute funds to those in need in devastated areas. Another text block reads We are praying with Maui.

 

CONFERENCE UPDATES


Most recent updates on top:

November 2023 – Maui Fires Recovery Engagement

The Hawai‘i Conference UCC has adopted a matrix of data points that we believe guides us into best practices and engagement with partners in responding to the fires of Maui. This matrix can be outlined as:

  • Tangible and non-tangible assistance

  • Sources of funds and the expectations those sources place upon funds use

  • Ecumenical partnerships: the ELCA Pacifica Synod and the national Presbyterian [PC(USA)] Disaster Assistance, and of course, sister associations in the Hawai‘i Conference.

  • Channels to dispense funds: local congregations and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).

  • Phases of recovery: an eye toward emerging and long-term recovery needs. We have been told it will be 1.5 - 2 years before rebuilding can begin and with the damage in Lahaina, we anticipate a 7- to 10-year process.

  • Waiola Church: we are seeking to ensure that it is the members of the church who are in the driver’s seat when it comes time to rebuild.


Based upon this matrix our response plan currently includes:

  • A 3-year commitment for intentional support of Maui Clergy that includes counseling, peer groups, and covered time off.

  • An emerging needs focus which includes rental help, assisting with downpayments on new cars, food and water security, and economic support for families, individuals, and the Maui economy through the purchase and distribution of gift cards and gas cards.

  • Long-Term recovery (won’t pick up for another 1.5 - 2 yrs.): We are projecting this to include temporary housing, while continuing to utilize the work of our local congregations as they assess needs in their areas. We aim to be proactive with unmet needs that other VOAD groups are not set up to meet. For example, assistance with home furnishings, once the houses are rebuilt.

September 24, 2023 – Mahalo Nui Loa

September 6, 2023 – Conference Minister shares "Prayers and Funds as Avenues of God's Love"

August 30, 2023 – Hawai'i VOAD Provides Update on Wildfires and Resources

August 21, 2023 – Danny Tengan, Disaster Ministries Coordinator

August 20, 2023 – Prayer for Maui service held online

August 16, 2023 – Reflection by Associate Conference Minister

August 15, 2023 – UCC Global H.O.P.E. Launches Appeal

August 15, 2023 – Conference Office, Kahu of Waiola Church, Disaster Ministries Coordinator

August 11, 2023 – Conference Office & Disaster Ministries Coordinator

August 10, 2023 – Conference Minister & Office Coordinator

August 9, 2023 – David Popham, Conference Minister (original post)

No doubt, like me, you watched in horror the newscasts and read news stories as the fires spread across Maui and Hawai‘i Island. Most heartrending, at this time, are the images of Lahaina on fire. Due to limited phone access, we are still seeking firm information regarding people and church properties directly affected.


We do know the following limited information: Waiola Church fellowship hall burned in the fire, we do not have word on their sanctuary. We know the Campbell House and adjacent park were also in the path of the Lahaina fire. We have heard that many church members are affected by the evacuation orders, but we do not know the status of their homes at this time. On Hawai‘i Island we know that access to some churches were blocked by fires. Six fatalities have been reported so far.


In these times we want to be of help and assistance to our ‘ohana in distress. Offerings and collections taken through your local church can be sent to the Conference Office where we will work to distribute the funds to devastated areas and those in need. Individuals may also donate online directly through the Conference's Hawai‘i 2023 Wildfires Relief Fund (part of the Conference's general "Hawai'i Disaster Relief Fund," which is also accessible via our website at hcucc.org/donate.)


Please join me in prayer, e pule kākou:

It came so fast God, relentlessly driven by winds and we were so vulnerable. Escaping with the clothes on our backs. Lives in tatters. Homes gone. Businesses gone. Jobs gone. Lives lost. Where do we go to even raise our prayers when our hale pule became a burnt victim to the ravages of the fire? There is so much loss, so much that one day was there and is now ashes. Comfort us in our tears and carry our heavy hearts in our time of sorrow.


Eventually Ke Akua, our energy will turn to rebuilding our homes, our businesses, our jobs, our lives. Walk with us during the long recovery that lies ahead. We will become frustrated by bureaucratic red tape and supply chain delays and price gouging. We will fume and shake our fists and we will cry even more tears. Yet, the journey will not be as overwhelming with you by our side.


Bless O God, those fighting these wildfires and those fires yet to come during this dry season. Grant wisdom and insights to our government officials—county and state—as they navigate how best to administer the government response. Lift up on wings our pastoral leaders as they give spiritual nurture to those depleted by these fires.


May we root ourselves in you God, knowing your Spirit groans with ours. Grant us succor in this time and in the days ahead. ‘Amene.

 

View updates on the situation from Maui:



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