General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens and leaders of several Disciples ministries traveled to Puerto Rico after Thanksgiving to show solidarity with the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Maria. The visit included a specially called meeting of the Joint Commission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada and the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) in Puerto Rico. The delegation also joined in the regular quarterly meeting of representatives and pastors from the majority of the island’s 106 congregations, the Junta Representativa (Representative Council).
“The Church in Puerto Rico understands the importance of seeing each other face to face, particularly to process the trauma and stress of the current situation,” Hord Owens said. “They are very intentional about offering spiritual nourishment when they gather every quarter, and this gathering, delayed from September, was no different. Rev. Miguel Morales, Pastor General of the Discipulos de Cristo in Puerto Rico, expressed his gratitude for our presence and continued solidarity, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The importance of our mutual trust and collaboration was palpable in our discussions. Hurricane Maria has presented a set of circumstances in which we are living out our relationship as sisters and brothers, jointly serving Christ as we serve one another.”
In response to Hurricane Maria, the Pension Fund arranged to ship 100 generators to the island. Disciples Church Extension Fund suspended loan payments for ICDC churches for two months, and the Pension Fund suspended dues payments for that same period. Ministerial Relief funds from the Pension Fund were an important part of the response to support Disciples pastors in Puerto Rico. Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and the UCC’s Disaster Recovery Ministries, were also in attendance as leaders from the mainland and Puerto Rico gathered to plan the next steps in the recovery.
People in the mountains of the island are still without power and many without water after nearly 90 days. Many homes in the metropolitan area are also without power. Estimates of the percentage of those without power range from 50 to 75 percent.
The Joint Commission meets biennially to plan opportunities for joint mission, and to ensure strong relationships and solidarity between the two churches. Disciples ministries from the U.S. and Canada regularly partner with our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico for pensions, church financing and training. Included in the group were representatives from Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, Disciples Church Extension Fund/Hope Partnership, Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries, Pension Fund, Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and the UCC’s Disaster Recovery Ministries