Leaders in Disaster Ministry to Gather at Brethren Service Center

Faith communities often play a crucial role in responding to disasters throughout the US, such as by building houses, providing emotional care to survivors, and meeting other unmet needs. How and why faith communities respond to disasters will be explored at the 2012 Church World Service (CWS) Forum on Domestic Disaster Ministry, March 19-21 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

The biennial forum brings together leading scholars, theologians, and staff who work in disaster programs throughout the interreligious community. Participants explore the changing nature of response to disasters and learn from experienced practitioners in the field.

The forum will focus on “Sacred Hospitality: Compassion and Community in the Wake of Disaster” and explore topics including economic justice, spiritual and emotional care, and forging partnerships with secular, faith-based, and government agencies.

The forum is a great place to learn the latest developments in how faith communities are responding to disasters, according to Barry Shade, CWS associate director for Domestic Emergency Response. “We’re very excited about the speakers who are coming this year,” Shade says. “We’ll cover everything from the theological to the practical aspects of disaster response and recovery.”

Amy Oden, a scholar of Christian traditions of hospitality and the dean of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., will be the keynote speaker. Other scheduled speakers include Stan Duncan, Bob Fogal, Bonnie Osei-Frimpong, Ruama Camp, Claire Rubin, Jamison Day, and Bruce Epperly.

Participants in past forums have included staff members from faith-based disaster programs, government agencies, corporations, foundations, and community organizations.

The gathering will be the fifth CWS Forum on Domestic Disaster Ministry. It will take place at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center in rural, western Maryland. Transportation is available from Baltimore-Washington International Airport for those who register by March 10. The registration form and additional information are available at www.cwserp.org .

— Lesley Crosson and Jan Dragin of the Church World Service communications staff provided this release.