The upcoming bi-annual Western Jurisdiction Disaster Response Academy will be held on March 10-13, 2017 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Ontario, California.

Participants will have an abundance of fun and informative learning opportunities led by staff from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and others.  Stories will be shared from across the Jurisdiction and the ERT, Recovery and Shower trailer for disaster response will be on view.  All are invited to this wonderful event.

For questions, contact:

Judy Lewis ()
Disaster Response Coordinator
California-Pacific Conference


SCHOLARSHIP NOW AVAILABLE! – A generous scholarship for young people and ethnic persons interested in attending the Disaster Response Academy 2017 is now available.  The scholarship covers 75% of the total cost of the Academy for an attendee.  To apply, please download, complete, and return this application.

With over three full days of workshops, worship services, and fellowship, this event just might change your life!

Workshops will be taught by United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) staff and others from throughout the connection who know and love the ministry of responding in a disaster.  Special guests include Rev. Neish of the California-Nevada Conference and Rev. David Farley of the California-Pacific Conference.

Registration is online and easy, but requires the selection of classes.  Class descriptions can be found on the brochure or just a little further below on this web page (click here to get there quick).

$290 (if paid 2016)
$340 (if paid 2017)

Cost includes:

  • all meals (Friday lunch thru Monday lunch)
  • manuals
  • supplies for classes


All participants must obtain lodging in addition to Registration.

Doubletree by Hilton Ontario Airport
(909) 937-0900

$109 (Double) per night + taxes
valid until February 13, 2017

  • Use group code “DRA” or reference “Disaster Response Academy”
  • Free shuttle from/to Ontario Airport
  • Free hotel parking


Keynote Speaker: Rev. Neish, who has experience with the Napa earthquake, will bring pictures and stories to help us all be better prepared for the different types of serving will we need to do.

David Farley will tell about the use of the UMCOR grant for the unaccompanied minors program in Cal-Pac. This includes 4 centers being established, loads of volunteers, and grateful recipients.


Foundations: Everyone starts the Academy in this session that clarifies the following questions: Why engage in disaster ministry? What are the phases of disaster? Who are the players? What are the functions and opportunities for volunteers? Where do the resources come from? What are our mission and values? UMCOR staff will address these questions and more. This session is the foundation training that grounds all our efforts in disaster ministry.


Basic ERT (All Day): Early Response Teams fill a specific need in the early days after a disaster: to clean out flood-damaged homes, remove debris, place tarps on homes, and otherwise help prevent further property damage while at the same time providing a caring, Christian presence.

Connecting Neighbors (All Day): Churches can provide a caring, Christian presence following local disasters if they have prepared their church families and facilities in advance. The Connecting Neighbors training provides the necessary tools and teaches leaders how to prepare their church members to embrace the three parts of Connecting Neighbors: home, church, community.

Metropolitan Madness (Morning): Community resources will meet at the table to discuss how all of us fit into the disaster response, especially in populated areas. Panelists will include CERT (Community Emergency Response Team—local government), American Red Cross, Office of Emergency Services, 211 call operation, VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), FEMA, and Children’s Disaster Service. Active shooter strategies and other forms of help for man-made disasters will also be addressed.

Disaster Readiness (PM): Disaster Readiness will emphasize how to prepare your local church before a disaster strikes; help will be given on how to write a plan and maintain it; how to do a thorough pictoral inventory which is good for disaster and for insurance purposes; and a chance to share with others what your church is doing or needs to be doing

ERT Renewal/Overview (PM): This class is for those who need an overview of the ERT program in order to understand the background for the 200 classes. Those new to the United Methodist system of working in natural and man-made disasters would do well to take this class if they are not taking the Basic ERT at this time. This class is also for those who are already badged, but need a renewal (expires every 3 years).

Recovery Skills (Afternoon): This workshop, limited to 30 participants, will have hands-on experience with professional artisans to enhance skills in recovery (rebuilding) work. Techniques will be practiced by all participants. Work clothes would be a good idea. Sometimes in painting, etc. “accidents” happen!  2 identical classes, limited to 30 persons each

UMVIM Opportunities (PM): The UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) program has other opportunities to serve globally. Find out where you are needed, how UMVIM projects are selected, how to put a team together or become an ‘individual missioner’, and how looking outside your door is an opportunity to serve.

Working with Differently Abled (Afternoon): Led by the National chairperson for the UM church’s DisAbility Ministry and an experienced UMVIM recovery team member, this workshop will consider the disaster from the perspectives of the volunteer and the affected. It will develop awareness of how the differently abled are able to serve, and how they need to be served.


Case/Construction Management (AM): The sterling reputation of UMCOR’s case management is one of the UMs best strengths in providing recovery needs for survivors after a disaster. We provide training for local volunteers and often help fund the construction managers for long term recovery. This class will address ways to use resources effectively.

Mission Journey (AM): Una Jones from the General Board of Global Ministries will use the Mission Journey book as an aid for leaders and team members of ERT and UMVIM recovery teams.  The book will be provided.  This book is also useful for other types of UMVIM work in addition to disaster-related.  Recommended for those who take the UMVIM or ERT team leader training.  Open to all.

UMVIM team leader training (Morning): Taught by an experienced team leader, this class includes all types of Recovery and Mission experiences: medical, educational, spiritual as well as disaster. International expectations and requirements will also be covered.

ERT200 Wildfire Response (AM): This new course has been conceived of and designed by our own jurisdiction and UMCOR since wildfires are one of our main disasters in the West. Instead of “muck and gut,” as with tornadoes and hurricanes, the debris from a wildfire means we will “ash and trash.” At all times we respect the home owners’ grief and disbelief in the wake of natural or man-set wildfires.

Long Term Recovery Group (Afternoon): When the ERTs have finished their work, the UMVIM teams arrive to help with the re-building of homes. This may take years, depending on the extent of the disaster. Barry Hanson has experience with the Carlton Complex fires in Washington which spread over 120 miles. That’s a lot of area and a lot of needs. Barry will share about the LTRG, how they organized, how they mobilized, and how they are continuing the work.  UMCOR staff will provide content and context of LTRG

Ministry of Care (PM): Calming survivors after the storm is a major part of the UM response to disaster. This workshop provides practical information and ideas for supporting survivors facing the unique emotional and spiritual challenges that accompany disaster. It also emphasizes self-care for the volunteers and an overview of the steps for developing a care team.

Relief to Recovery (PM): Transition is challenging. Participants will explore differences between relief and recovery, identify ways to provide leadership in developing recovery coalitions, and ways to resource recovery of individuals and families.

Site Assessment (PM): Limited to 25 participants, this class will be a “field trip” to different locations to learn how to make accurate assessments of safety and suitability for the ERT teams when they arrive. (This class is not for use in recovery: re-building or repairing). People who are not physically able to do Relief or Recovery work, can often be very helpful with assessments. Clipboards and assessment sheets will be provided.

ERT200 Team Leader Training (PM): This class provides tools and technical information to strengthen your skills so you can to effectively lead teams in the US in varying situations. It also emphasizes that our ministry is to be a caring, Christian presence in addition to helping mitigate physical damage.

ERT200 Flood Clean Out (PM): Most commonly referred to as mucking out, this class will cover current best practices and safety procedures for cleaning out, stabilizing, and sanitizing water-damaged homes.


Mission Journey (AM): Repeat of Sunday’s class. Recommended for those who take the UMVIM or ERT team leader training. Open to everyone.

Managing Unsolicited Donations (AM): Anyone who has worked a disaster site in the early days has probably come in contact with SUV (Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteers) and Unsolicited donations, which are not helpful to the situation. Listen to the pros tell you how they try to mitigate this recurring problem. FEMA and others refer to it as the “second disaster”.  Brian Diggs, from UMCOR West, will share about the “good” donations

ERT200 On-Site Management (AM):  Readiness class designed to help communities understand what should be in place before the invitation for volunteers is issued and they receive ERTs: types of assessments, forms, or other arrangements that can be used to speed up the process.

Working with Differently Abled (AM): Led by the National chairperson for the UM church’s DisAbility Ministry and an experienced UMVIM recovery team member, this workshop will consider the disaster from the perspectives of the volunteer and the affected. It will develop awareness of how the differently abled are able to serve, and how they need to be served.