American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware

ABCOPAD Responds to Hurricane Dorean


Over this past Labor Day Weekend, the news was dominated by Hurricane Dorian. Initially expected to strike Puerto Rico, Hurricane Dorian turned and then slammed into the Bahamas, causing catastrophic devastation and loss of life. Leaving the Caribbean Islands, the forecast predicted the storm would move over Florida causing that entire state to brace for impact, but now it is North Carolina (which is still recovering from Hurricane Florence!). The humongous, powerful, and slow moving storm is leaving a path of destruction in its wake that will require months, perhaps even years, of recovery.

In the past, the primary way we as American Baptist helped those in need following a disaster was to quickly release funds from our One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) resource. If the disaster was international, International Ministries (IM) would oversee the disbursement of relief money, and the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) would direct national OGHS resources. In the past, a message would be sent out requesting donations to OGHS to help in a specific area. While the primary donation window for OGHS takes place primarily between May through July, special offerings would be received for disasters happening any time they hit. Often a church family would take up a "special" offering to help with a specific disaster and send that "over and above" offering via their normal monthly mission giving, earmarking that donation for a specific OGHS need.

Over the past 5 years this model of relief has changed. With new communications tools and new ways to make contributions, IM and ABHMS can often speak directly to donors via email, web site or social media. Along with communicating the need, donors are now encouraged to give directly to OGHS via an on-line contribution or a check sent to IM or ABHMS. Some might think donations will reach areas of need faster if contributions are sent directly to IM or ABHMS instead of through the monthly mission giving of a local church, but - in fact - donations made through your local church are processed within a month and are available for relief efforts very quickly.

Along with making an on-line gift through IM or ABHMS, ABCOPAD can receive your on-line disaster relief contribution and, in most cases, give your local church credit / recognition for the gift. ABCOPAD has been using on-line giving since 2006. It is quick and easy to make a donation through ABCOPAD's on-line giving platform, where you can direct your gift exactly where you want it to go. It is hard to believe but ABCOPAD is on pace to process about $100,000.00 in transactions, most of them for missions in 2019. A donor can simply go to our web site,, click the donation tab and quickly make a contribution.

As always, donations for disaster relief should be over and above your regular contributions.  All too often, donors shift their current giving to donate toward disaster relief which is disastrous for local churches or ministries like ABCOPAD. We see significant giving to help with disaster relief only to watch regular giving plummet, causing budget nightmares. When giving to disaster relief the donations should be "new money" not the old adage "Robbing Peter to pay Paul."

While many people want to make a financial contribution to help following a disaster, for a growing group in our Region there is a desire to actually go to a disaster area to work directly in the relief efforts. Already, following Hurricane Dorian, I have received phone calls and email messages asking when ABCOPAD will be sending a mission team to serve in the Bahamas.

With this in mind, ABCOPAD has its own Disaster Relief Fund. Contributions can be made directly to fund, knowing those contributions will assist mission teams from ABCOPAD serving as the hands and feet of Jesus. Not only can an individual or church give to OGHS but donations can be made to ABCOPAD that will help brothers and sisters in this Region actually go and serve. [ In 2019, eight teams have gone to North Carolina, Puerto Rico and New Jersey to do Hurricane Disaster Relief. ]  When you give to the ABCOPAD Disaster Relief Fund you make it possible for teams from our own Region to serve.

Our Region is filled with generous and caring individuals and churches who have always responded to help those in need following a disaster. As you can see, there are many ways to give and to help. If you have questions or need additional explanations please know I am happy to help. Thank you for being such a great partner in ministry and for all you do to support mission.

God Bless.
Mark Mahserjian-Smith