From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutherans Expend Millions of Dollars in Sept. 11 Response

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Wed, 5 Jun 2002 16:07:54 -0500


June 5, 2002


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) and Domestic
Disaster Response of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
have expended more than $3.18 million to programs designed to support
people affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States
last year.  LDR is a ministry of the ELCA and the Lutheran Church-
Missouri Synod (LCMS).
     "The church will be involved in the Sept. 11 [disaster] response
for 'the long haul,'" said the Rev. Gilbert B. Furst, LDR director.  "I
estimate that Lutheran Disaster Response will be involved in some way
for at least eight to 10 years, perhaps longer," he said.
     The unprecedented impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New
York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., is still being measured, Furst
said.  "While the church received an amazing amount of income, expenses
also have been and will continue to be amazing," he said.
     Last year, members of the ELCA gave $10.5 million to ELCA Domestic
Disaster Response and Lutheran Disaster Response.  They contributed $2
million in the previous fiscal year.
*    "Domestic Disaster Response and Lutheran Disaster Response,
spurred on by giving in the wake of Sept. 11, received more than double
our largest domestic response to date," said Lita Brusick Johnson,
director of the appeal, ELCA Division for Congregational Ministries.
     About $7 million was given by individuals and congregations of the
church in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Johnson said.
     Lutheran fraternal organizations have provided millions of dollars
to Lutheran Disaster Response--New York.  The total income for all
Lutheran responses is estimated to be $20 million, Furst said.
     Since September, Lutherans have expended a total of $3,186,469 in
New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and other affected areas such as
Pennsylvania, Virginia and the New England area.  "Included in that
amount is $182,000 to support interfaith networks in New York, New
Jersey and Washington, D.C., through Church World Service," Furst said.
The ELCA participates in the work of Church World Service.
     In New York, special fiscal safeguards were put into place due to
the large nature of that response, Furst said.  Some of the larger items
in the 2002 budget projections include:
+ Direct emergency assistance, $300,000
+ "Project Life," a parish-based program of LDR and Lutheran Social
Services of New York, $578,000
+ "Camp New Ground," week-long day camps for children traumatized by
Sept. 11, $506,000
+ Counseling and support groups, $337,000
+ Lutheran schools -- tuition support, counseling and intervention for
21,000 students, $59,000
+ Work with immigrants/undocumented people and advocacy, $75,000
+ Respite care for rostered church leaders, $59,000
+ Ministry with people in New Jersey, $70,000
+ Ministry with people and agencies in Washington, D.C., $208,000.
     "There are some 21,000 students in 140 Lutheran schools.  Forty-
two students lost a parent and/or primary care-giver in the [destruction
of the World Trade Center] in New York.  Lutheran Disaster Response
consultants from across the country are working with local child
specialists to provide direct ministry to youth from preschool age
through adolescence," Furst said.

     Certain principles are followed in disaster expenditure, Furst
said.  He cited several principles offered by John Scibilia, LDR
coordinator, New York.
     According to Scibilia, "The emergency nature of disaster often
leads to the erroneous notion that funds raised should be spent in a
hurry.  In reality the opposite is true."  Scibilia offered some reasons
why it is usually best for "non-disaster organizations" to proceed
slowly in determining how their funds will be "best and most effectively
     "There is a secular, public disaster relief and recovery system in
place that is designed to meet most emergency and mid-term disaster-
caused needs.  Private funds, hurriedly applied to needs for which there
are existing government resources, would replace those government
resources and then not be available later for recovery," Scibilia said.
     "The historical role for private disaster funds is in long-term
recovery, as responsibility for recovery moves from government to the
community.  Better decisions will be made after understanding other
funds and their target beneficiaries.  Similarly, better decisions will
be made after analyzing community recovery programs as they develop in
response to needs," Scibilia said.
     "As impact and needs analysis emerge, information will develop
upon which more informed decisions can be based.  Hasty decisions can
result in over-subscription to some needs while other needs go
unaddressed.  Disaster recovery programs are required for a surprisingly
long time after an incident occurs.  There will be a large, active
caseload five years from now.  Funding will still be needed then," he
     Scibilia added that long-term needs emerge in every disaster that
cannot be known in the early stages.  "This is especially true in this
terrible incident, which caused such massive loss of life, livelihood
and emotional peace," he said about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on
the United States.
     "A donor's intention must always be honored.  Funds accrued for
disaster response ministries cannot be utilized for non-disaster related
expenses," Furst said.
     Another principle in "disaster response is to spend other 'non-
church' monies first and save church funds for last.  More than $1.5
billion has been collected by private and non-profit organizations.  It
is good stewardship to leverage those funds and multiply the church
dollars, which are few compared to that total.  This enables the church
to be involved for many years, long after other agencies and
organizations have departed," Furst said.
     Response to Sept. 11 has had a "shift in focus from the initial
chaos," Furst said.  "The needs and the dynamics continue to change.
There will be others, and there will be more.  What ministry needs will
be in the near and distant future can only be anticipated.  But, God has
especially gifted our Lutheran church with social ministry
organizations, synods and districts, congregations and members that are
wonderfully linked and networked to provide compassionate ministries.
As the church, we have the experience and credibility to provide
cutting-edge leadership in this and other responses," Furst said.
-- -- --

Editors: When listing organizations receiving funds for aid to survivors
of major disasters inside the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S.
Virgin Islands, please include:

ELCA Domestic Disaster Response
P.O. Box 71764
Chicago, IL  60694-1764

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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