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Bishop, conference leaders console Henryville church, show conference support

March 6, 2012

HENRYVILLE, Ind. – Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner and leaders of the Indiana Conference Disaster Response Team, conference staff members and the South District Superintendent met yesterday with the Rev. Wilma Sawyer Bone, pastor of the Henryville United Methodist Church to let her know how the Indiana Conference can assist her and her congregation during this disaster response.

As first responders begin to leave, they are being followed this week by trained and certified Early Response Teams (ERT). Those serving with The United Methodist Church during this phase need to be United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) certified in order to work on location in disaster areas, like Henryville, as an early responder. The Rev. Jim Byerly, pastor of Rockdale UMC and Disaster Response Coordinator of the Southeast District is on location in Henryville and working with Pastor Bone and her 105-member congregation, as well as with the Indiana Volunteer Organizations Responding to Disaster (INVOAD).

Those with ERT certification who wish to assist people in Henryville and other nearby areas affected by tornado damage are encouraged to call the Volunteer Reception Center at 812-287-0519, 812-287-0522, 812-287-0523 or 812-287-0521. The center is located at 723 Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Ind. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Another center will be established soon in Henryville according to Byerly.

Tom Hazelwood, director of disaster response for UMCOR, was unable to be in Indiana yesterday. He is scheduled to be in Henryville today to meet with Bone and Byerly. UMCOR has already responded with $10,000 in emergency funds. Disaster responders are now waiting for FEMA to declare the area as a disaster zone. The next step is to provide case management training for volunteers to go door-to-door assisting home and business owners with paperwork to obtain emergency funds. UMCOR has assisted with that training in the past in Indiana.

Once homeowners and business owners receive funds, rebuilding can begin. In the meantime, when ERTs finish their work, uncertified volunteers can begin assisting local residents in clean-up. One need expressed yesterday beyond the needs of homeowners in Henryville is volunteers assisting area farmers clearing fields with debris left by the tornadoes. Farmers cannot get into their field to plant until that debris has been removed. Opportunities will be announced as they are made possible in the future. The person who coordinates Volunteers in Mission service for the Indiana Conference is Bonnie Albert and she can be reached at, or call 219-464-1447.

The best way to help now is by giving money and contributing supplies. Items needed include:

  • Safety supplies
  • Gloves, work
  • Gloves nitrile
  • N95 masks
  • Dust masks
  • Hygiene kits
  • Tubs for supplies
  • PLEASE DO NOT SEND CLOTHING. Clothing needs are best met with store gift cards.

According to Byerly, the best glove combination is vinyl or rubber-coated work gloves with vinyl gloves inside. This combination can help prevent cuts from picking up sharp objects that might be contaminated.

Salem UMC, 6311 Kratzville Road in Evansville and the Hazleton UMC Mission Center at Hazleton are collection points for supplies. Please contact Salem UMC at 812-423-7639 or Hazleton UMC at 812-784-2318 prior to delivering supplies. St. Luke’s UMC, 100 West 86th Street in Indianapolis also is a collecting point for these supplies. The truck is near the sanctuary entrance and will be available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through March 11. If your church is a collection point for these items and wanted to be listed with the Indiana Conference information, contact

The official donations site is operated by Adventist Community Services, 700 Patrol Road in Charlestown, Ind., which is in the old U.S. Census Bureau warehouse. Follow the receiving signs to Gate 2. Donations management phone numbers are 812-287-0090 and 812-287-0026.

One of the best and easiest gifts right now is money. There are two ways to give within The United Methodist Church – UMCOR and the Indiana Conference Disaster Response Fund. The Rev. David Powell of Danville, conference disaster response coordinator, told e-HUM, “One point of clarification, UMCOR funds will be used throughout the Midwest as the storms have been bad and we are not yet even into the full season. Funds sent to the Indiana Conference will go directly to Indiana Response. Both are great but we do want to give people the choice.” Church treasurers need to send Indiana Conference Disaster Response offerings directly to INUMC, Dept. 6089, Carol Stream, IL 60122-6089 marked “Disaster Response.” Contributions to UMCOR can be made online at

South District Superintendent Charlie Wilfong reported yesterday that the church buildings in the South District tornado area are safe and secure. Henryville sustained minor exterior damage and a large hole in the sanctuary ceiling with an opening in the roof. The Pekin church, family life center and parsonage are all undamaged. The Emmanuel church had minor damage. The pastoral families in the South District are all unharmed as far as he knows. Wilfong also expressed thanks for your prayers and response.

Let us continue to remember the residents of southern Indiana during their hour of need and the United Methodist churches who are ministering to those needs. Thank you for your prayers, time and monetary support.