Emergency Preparedness ministry available in Oregon-Idaho Conference


Planning for a disaster or preparing for an emergency might seem like a self-fulfilling prophecy that no one really wants to come true.

However, The United Methodist Church through the Oregon-Idaho Conference believes in equipping churches and individuals with the right tools and training to be the hands and feet of Christ in crisis and conflict.

This ministry is primarily done through Early Response Teams (ERT), an effort promoted by the United Methodist Committee on Relief to respond to disasters and emergencies both locally and nationally.

Larry Johnson, ERT coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, said there are currently 67 people across the Conference who have gone through ERT training in the last three years and have been deployed to places like Rockport, Texas, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Team members have also responded locally to flooding in Idaho or weather emergencies in the Pacific Northwest Conference.

Larry Johnson (right) shares about disaster response
“One of my goals it to try and keep the members we have active, not just in disaster relief, but disaster preparedness,” he said.

That means he and ERT trainer Becky Platt out of Boise are both willing to travel to churches around the Conference to give presentations and help them become certified UMCOR disaster response centers through the Connecting Neighbors or Church Resiliency program.

Through that training, Johnson said churches learn how ready they are to respond to a disaster, how their church can survive a disaster and still serve its community and how a church can reach out into its community to let it know they are willing to provide support.

Johnson said people often think of an earthquake being a “disaster”, but churches can be put into response mode for things as “simple” as ice storms or snow storms – something with which people in the Pacific Northwest are familiar.

ERT training and deployments are often done in cooperation with the Pacific Northwest Conference. People can register for the next ERT training happening Oct. 27 at Bremerton UMC, just outside of Seattle, through the PNW website. For information on mileage reimbursement and shared lodging for Oregon-Idaho people to be able to participate in this training, please contact Larry Johnson at lj.big4sportsfan@gmail.com.

Johnson recently visited Lake Oswego United Methodist Church, where members organized a disaster preparedness fair. Local businesses presented products such as a solar panel set up to keep electricity running “off the grid” to emergency transportation possibilities, water storage containers and more.

Sally Blanchard, who coordinated the event in Lake Oswego, said all of it was a good reminder for church members to think about ways in which they should be prepared for emergencies.

“We learned a lot from each other,” she said.

Johnson said he and Platt are willing to come to events such as the one in Lake Oswego or make other presentations as desired. Contact him at lj.big4sportsfan@gmail.com to schedule a presentation.