January 04, 2005 17:38 ET


Funds raised will support relief and reconstruction work of church partners in Asia and East Africa Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, World News Editor TORONTO/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 4, 2005) - The United Church of Canada announced today that it has launched an emergency appeal asking its congregations for donations designated for tsunami relief and reconstruction.

The United Church's Tsunami Appeal will enable global partners in Asia and East Africa who are working to address the need for immediate relief and long-term reconstruction following the devastating earthquake and tsunami on December 26, 2004.

Funds raised through this emergency appeal will be transferred directly to United Church partners in the regions affected by this natural disaster. Some of the funds will also be channelled to Action By Churches Together (ACT), a global alliance of faith-based agencies associated with the World Council of Churches. ACT has the capacity to quickly assess and intervene in emergency disaster situations. Its members based in South and Southeast Asia were able to mobilize humanitarian relief operations in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand hours after the tragedy struck. On December 29, ACT issued an $8 million dollar (US) appeal for financial support for disaster relief in the region.

Due to the urgency of the need for humanitarian assistance, and in anticipation of donations that will be received, the United Church's General Council has responded immediately by making $250,000 available from the church's Mission and Service Fund that will be shared among global partners in the regions affected by the tsunami.

Regular donations to the United Church's Mission and Service Fund make it possible for the United Church to absorb the staffing and administration costs of processing donations to all emergency appeals. A portion of the Mission and Service Fund is also annually allocated for emergency response and thereby enables the United Church to respond immediately to crises as they erupt. Thus far, $10,000 from the Mission and Service Fund has been applied to tsunami relief. The United Church will also apply to the federal government to match donated funds.

Margaret Sumadh is the United Church's Interim Area Secretary for South Asia. Soon after the tsunami struck last week, she was in communication with several of the United Church's partners in the affected region to express the United Church's deep concern and sympathy and to offer the church's support. Several partners are themselves involved in damage assessment and immediate relief. Some have requested immediate assistance to help meet these needs. Some are thinking ahead to the long-term needs of reconstruction.

"Based on the response we received to this initial enquiry and from the information we have gathered from the widespread media coverage of the scope of this natural disaster, the General Council Office's Inter-Unit Emergencies Task Group met on January 3 and decided to formally launch an emergency appeal," says Sumadh. Funds donated to the Tsunami Appeal will be used to support partners' efforts both in providing immediate relief and in planning for the long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of the communities affected by the tsunami.

"The impact of this natural calamity has been enormous across several countries from Indonesia to East Africa. There has been considerable loss of life in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India in particular. There is urgent concern about the spread of disease, particularly from contaminated water. In the longer term, the cost of the tragedy will be measured not only in the loss of human lives, but also in the enormous destruction of homes, livelihoods, and infrastructure that will require months and years to rebuild," says Gary Kenny, the United Church's Emergency Response Coordinator.

"This is where the United Church has a unique role to play, given its experience in supporting programs of reconstruction, long-term capacity building, and development. We will be present with partners in the affected regions long after international media coverage has ended," adds Kenny.

Individuals are invited to contribute to the United Church's Tsunami Appeal either through their local congregation or directly to The United Church of Canada's national office, 3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M8X 2Y4. Cheques can be made payable to The United Church of Canada and marked Tsunami Appeal. You can also donate by telephone at 1-800-465-3771 or online at Indicate that your donation is for the Tsunami Appeal.

Information about the United Church's Tsunami Appeal has been posted on the United Church's website ( and will be updated as new information becomes available.
/For further information: Mary-Frances Denis Communications Officer The United Church of Canada 416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (business) 416-766-0057 (residence) / IN: INTERNATIONAL, RELIGION

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Secondary Phone: 416-766-0057