Work in progress: Churches reach out to Haiti

Work in progress: Churches reach out to Haiti


The Call is collecting information about the Holston connection and response to Haiti. Tell us your story at


  • Ooltewah UMC of the Cleveland District collected a total 500 kits. "One man in our church had his company donate 200," said the Rev. Ramon Torres. "The nursery school gave 30. The Boy Scouts gave about 60. Many Sunday School classes gave, as well as many families and individuals."

  • Also in the Cleveland District, Asbury UMC put together 40 health kits for Haiti and opened up the opportunity to the community, according to the Rev. Tim Paul. The Goodfield Circuit brought in 135 kits donated by Citizens National Bank of Athens, according the Rev. Hugh Bryan, whose wife Ilene Bryan is employed by the bank.
  • Young adults attending Divine Rhythm donated 500 kits. Divine Rhythm was held Jan. 29-31 in Severville, Tenn. Students at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens assembled 165 kits.
  • In addition to giving money and health kits to UMCOR, Grace UMC of Chattanooga District gave about 45 "gently worn" pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls. "The hope is that these shoes will reduce exposure to the sewage, disease, bacteria, etc. that comes in the wake of such disasters," said the Rev. Clair Travis.
  • Churches of Tazewell District quickly gave 300 kits in the first weeks and several more were in progress. First Richlands UMC gave 200. On the Staffordsville Circuit, Shady Grove UMC gave $2,000 for UMCOR; Sheffey Memorial UMC gave $1,000. Several pastors are working with local businesses and schools to collect kits, according to District Superintendent Don Nation.
  • The Rev. Michael Vaughn is pastor at Embreeville UMC in Johnson City District. He's also a Pizza Hut district manager who's organizing an UMCOR fundraiser. On Feb. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m., nine designated Pizza Huts in the Tri-Cities will offer a buffet for $10 per adult, $5 per child. Twenty-five percent of profits will go to UMCOR. "It is too often we see the hurting and wish there was something we could do," says Vaughn. "God has placed me both pastoring a wonderful church, as well as a full-time job with a great company, Pizza Hut, for specific reasons." Download a flier for more information.

Feb. 1 edition

  • First Gatlinburg UMC placed a story in The Mountain Press, inviting the community to join them in collecting supplies for Haiti. "I can't believe it ... the donations rolled into the church," said Tracy Starker. "The Catholic church joined in ... and just this afternoon we got a massive truckoad of stuff from the local Hispanic church." By Jan. 28, 156 kits had been collected.
  • The Preptit family is active in First Bristol UMC; the children have represented the Abingdon District on the Conference Council on Youth Ministries. However, the Preptit family's original home is in Haiti, and they have loved ones who still live there. recently spoke to Leferne Preptit about his deep concerns; he reportedly is now in Haiti in search of relatives.
  • In Cleveland District, Ooltewah UMC is approaching 400 health kits collected. Rutledge UMC, Morristown District, has collected $1,501 for UMCOR as of Jan. 24, according to the Rev. Allen Shupe. Rutledge has 35 in average worship attendance.
  • Luminary UMC is filling a tractor trailer with kits donated by its own Oak Ridge District as well as other community members. The Rev. Bill Kurtz recently appeared on WATE-TV, appealing for items to send to Haiti. "We are getting calls from Southeast Kentucky and churches of other denominations, schools, and other groups who are working to put together kits," he said. "We have people driving by who come in and drop off money for more kits."
  • Six-year-old Natalie Duncan of Fountain City UMC was featured in the Knoxville News Sentinel for making "Pray for Haiti" butterflies. Another six-year-old child at the church gave $5 of his birthday money to help the people of Haiti. "I am very humbled as a pastor to understand that our children and youth 'get it' when we talk about missions service," said the Rev. Melissa Smith, associate pastor at the Knoxville District church.
  • In Big Stone Gap District, Russell Chapel UMC -- average attendance: 9 -- assembled 48 health kits. Pleasant Hill UMC -- average attendance: 13 -- sent a check to UMCOR for $2,000.
  • In Holston Conference's Alcoa office, Donna Hankins made an initial appeal to non-United Methodist staff members to join in a collection effort. By Jan. 28, several staff members with United Methodist backgrounds also contributed -- collecting 102 kits in all. Hankins is Holston's multimedia coordinator.

Jan. 18 edition

  • Mafair UMC received a Jan. 17 offering of $4,011 for UMCOR "and money is still coming in," said the Rev. Kim Goddard, Kingsport District. "We are also in the process of filling 200 health kits."
  • First Bristol UMC received $3,800 offering for UMCOR, according to the Abingdon District office. Wyndale UMC, a congregation of 103, collected $2,000 for UMCOR. Madam Russell/Tates Chapel Charge assembled 54 health kits.
  • At Rural Retreat UMC in Wytheville District, the Rev. Brian Burch rejoiced that the community was aware of UMCOR's commitment to use 100 percent of all gifts for the relief effort. (Administrative costs are paid through other means.) "Five minutes ago a local business owner walked in here and give us $500 because he knew it would all get to Haiti," Burch said. A "patriarch" for the nearby Baptist church did the same.
  • Noe's Chapel UMC in Morristown District had collected $550 for UMCOR by Jan. 24. "I am proud of my church," said the Rev. Dennis Loy. St. Paul UMC in Wytheville District had collected $5,500 by Jan. 18. "We continue to pray in tangible and non-tangible ways for the families, victims, survivors, and relief workers in this tragedy," said the Rev. Tom Ballard.