Gov. Matt Blunt’s Faith-Based Initiative hosts disaster relief symposium

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | 5:37 p.m. CDT; updated 4:28 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Gov. Matt Blunt’s Faith-Based Initiative is hosting a disaster relief symposium June 23 and 24 at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia.

This symposium is the second in a series of programs throughout the year that will be directed at congregations throughout Missouri. The event is focused on training congregations how to become active in community disaster responses.

“We want to give churches a laundry list of missions and see what they are interested in, then follow up with them at a later date,” said Eric Evans, emergency management specialist at the MU Extension.

The symposium will focus on eight human services missions, which include long-term recovery committee development, sheltering, feeding, volunteer management, donations management, debris removal, supporting a multi-agency resource center and case management in response to a local disaster.

In addition to these eight missions, congregations will learn to write an operations plan and family preparedness techniques.

Evans said there have been 18 federal disasters in Missouri in the last three years, and the existing state and local agencies are not able to respond to all of the people impacted by disasters.

“Missouri is blessed with citizens who help their neighbors during times of need. It is my hope that participants will take this information back to their congregations and adopt one of the eight core faith-based human services missions,” Gov. Blunt said in a news release.

There are many faith-based organizations that provide disaster relief throughout Missouri.

“Disaster relief gives us an opportunity to express the love of the Lord and to share the Lord’s love,” said Rick Seaton, men’s ministry and missions specialist at the Missouri Baptist Convention. “We care for the physical and spiritual needs of people affected by disasters.”

The University of Missouri Extension is working with organizations such as the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, AmeriCorps and Convoy of Hope to present the symposium in Columbia.

The event is open to representatives of all congregations in Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Cole, Cooper, Gasconade, Howard, Moniteau, Morgan, Miller, Montgomery and Osage counties.

“We hope to reach at least 200 people at this event,” Evans said.

The event is free of charge. Interested congregations may register for the symposium by contacting Eric Evans at 800-869-3476.

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