Disaster Response

Prepare neighbors through training and planning for a quick response in the event of a disaster.

Disaster Response Ministry work progressing

November 11, 2019
By Alan Wild

Plans to improve the Kentucky Annual Conference’s disaster-preparedness protocols are steadily proceeding, according to Disaster Response Coordinator Jim Morse.

In a recent interview, Morse said one of the major goals is to provide training opportunities at both the district and individual church level.

“We’re trying to build the capacity to be better trainers and to have a response team,” said Morse, a retired Oldham County Emergency Management Director who has been in his role with the Conference for eight years.

The goal is to organize a team-oriented operation, with not just disaster-response teams, but also churches, working together at the district level, Morse said.

Bishop Leonard Fairley has directed Morse to help Kentucky’s United Methodist churches craft or improve their emergency plans, and to improve the disaster-response protocols of the Conference as a whole.

Morse and his volunteers are prepared to offer three types of training across districts or at individual churches:

Early Response Team (ERT) basic training

These regional teams will be responsible for quickly responding in the event of a disaster. Morse is hoping to do three or four classes in up to four districts across the Conference by next April. Disaster Ministry will cover most of the costs, with individuals paying $20 to $25. Details:

  • Training can be done in a single eight-hour day.
  • Participants must be 18 or older.
  • They must be trained in Safe Sanctuaries either online or in a local church with a pastor’s letter certifying completion.
  • Background checks will be required. The United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR, will pay for them. Individuals will undergo the check the week of training via a supplied, secure link that neither Morse nor anyone else at the Conference will see.

Early Response Team ‘train the trainers’

This class, originally scheduled for this past September but now planned for late April 2020, is designed for people already certified as early responders. Morse said the ultimate goal is to have a trainer in each of the Conference’s nine districts by the end of 2021. Details:

  • Candidates must be currently credentialed ERT members to take this training.
  • To be certified, participants must be willing to take 16 hours of classroom training over three days as well as teach a basic ERT class with an UMCOR evaluator.
  • A total of 16 hours of training is required. The tentative plan is to do half a day of training Thursday, all day Friday, and then half a day Saturday. That would allow pastors and others with church-related responsibilities to be back home for Sunday morning services.
  • Disaster Ministry will cover as much of the cost as possible, including lodging and mileage. Most meals also will be provided.
  • Participants must be willing to teach at least two basic early response trainings a year.

Connecting Neighbors

This program from UMCOR is designed to do three things:

  • Prepare neighbors by training them to be in better position to handle disasters.
  • Make sure churches have effective emergency plans.
  • Help churches put together a post-disaster vision of effective witnessing and ministering.

Churches can help share expenses and information from the Connecting Neighbors training by pairing up on training, and several have already done so, Morse said.

The Disaster Response Ministry, with the help of Conference Communications, is in the process of creating an online Connecting Neighbors training/workshop, he said.

The videos, which will be available online before the end of the year, will cover much of the information that the actual Connecting Neighbors workshop would provide, although it’s not a replacement of the in-person trainings since much of the benefit comes from the interaction and discussions of the participants, Morse said.

The video opportunity is to engage more individuals and to encourage in-person workshops with multiple churches and participants. Part of this should be made available through the Conference website (www.kyumc.org) by the end of this year, Morse said.

Morse, who generally keeps office hours on Monday and Thursday mornings, also is working on a detailed document to be posted on the website to help churches develop their disaster plans.

If you’re interested in more information about any of these training opportunities, contact Jim Morse, the Conference’s Disaster Response Coordinator, at jmorse@kyumc.org.


The Kentucky Conference is collecting flood buckets and health kits to ship to an UMCOR network warehouse in Pennsylvania. These kits will help meet some of the immediate needs of people impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

You can find details about what is included in a flood bucket or health kit, as well as instructions for assembling the kits, at www.umcor.org/UMCOR/relief-supplies.

The kits will be loaded onto a truck at Camp Kavanaugh in Crestwood on November 20. All completed kits need to be at Kavanaugh by that date.

Collection Sites for Flood Buckets & Health Kits

Grace UMC on Highway 23 in Greenup County
Please have items to site by noon on November 16.

Flood buckets will be gathered in the local churches and brought to The Foundry by the pastor or members of the churches during The Foundry’s regular office hours:  Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Maysville Trinity, Cynthiana First, and Immanuel
Please have the items to one of these three sites by noon, Monday, November 19th. 

District parsonage before November 20 (Call 502-494-0716 to arrange drop-off time)

Flood Buckets and Health Kits may be brought to the Micah Mission Center in Hopkinsville until November 15th. On November 15th, take kits to the Pastor's Meeting at Madisonville First UMC.

Donate to Hurricane Response

Make a monetary donation to UMCOR US Disaster Response, Hurricanes 2012, Advance #3021787. Please make checks payable to your local church and indicate the Advance # on the memo line. Local churches are asked to mail checks marked Advance #3021787  to:  Kentucky Conference Treasurer, 7400 Floydsburg Road, Crestwood, KY 40014. You can also text the word RESPONSE to 80888 to give an immediate $10 donation.

Bulletin Inserts
Flood Buckets/Health Kits
Hurricane Sandy Response


Jim Morse
Conference Disaster Response Coordinator


United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, SEJ

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)