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Lutheran Disaster Response

“God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday Ideas

“God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday will be here before you know it! 2023 is the tenth year of GWOH Sunday, which is a day of service dedicated to community service. This year, it falls on September 10.


GWOH Sunday is a great opportunity to participate in disaster response and preparedness work with your congregation. Here are just a few ideas for activities:

  1. Assemble preparedness kits. Some things you may want to include are:
    1. Small flashlight
    2. First aid materials, like bandages
    3. Whistle
    4. Snacks
    5. Water bottles
    6. Hand sanitizer

More ideas for kits can be found at

You might need other things for different kinds of weather. For example, in a winter weather preparedness kit, include items like gloves, socks and hand warmers. Distribute the kits locally – in your congregation, community, local shelters, etc.

  1. Identify disasters that could impact your community. Flooding? Hurricanes? Wildfires? Figure out the biggest threats in your area and come up with a plan for both your congregations and for families that can be shared in your community. Look at what resources you can offer during and after a disaster.


  1. Volunteer (locally). If there has been a disaster of any kind in your community, find a local organization that is doing response work and actively seeking volunteers.


  1. Advocate. Ask your congregation to reach out to your local representatives and voice your support for these policies. ELCA Advocacy has two calls for action posted online:
    1. Simplify and Improve Disaster Response Policies – The Disaster Survivors Fairness Act of 2023 would make several major improvements to our public policies aimed at addressing natural disasters, including creating a simplified “universal application” for federal disaster assistance and enabling federal agencies to better coordinate with each other and authorizing FEMA to reimburse state-level disaster solutions, and require FEMA to report to Congress new post-disaster solutions for renters.
    2. Support Policy that Improves Disaster Relief and Prevention – The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act, would, among many changes, increase federal response transparency with community partners, raise commitments to long-term resiliency after reconstruction, and authorize the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) disaster relief program into formal law.


  1. Form partnerships. Many of these activities can be done in collaboration with other local organizations or emergency management. It’s essential to form these relationships before a disaster, so your congregation is prepared to mobilize if a disaster does strike.


  1. Give. As you do disaster response/preparedness activities, collect a special offering for Lutheran Disaster Response. Gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response help us respond to disasters quickly and efficiently.


If you do any of these activities, or others related to disaster response, resilience or preparedness, let us know! Send your stories and photos to

Disaster Preparedness


It is always crucial to be prepared for any disaster that could strike. In this Prezi, we offer some suggestions about what to do in case of emergencies. This is not a definitive list of all disasters or of everything that needs to be done to prepare for one, but it is a starting point to think about how prepared you are for disasters in your area. Included are lists of other online resources that go into more detail about disaster preparedness.


View the presentation here:

5 Ways to Support Refugees and Migrants


At the end of 2019, there were 79.5 million displaced people around the world. That’s 1% of the world’s population.

The Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where nearly 1 million Rohingya currently live. Photo: Y. Franklin Ishida

26 million of them are refugees, people who leave their countries of residence due to conflict or persecution. 45.7 million of them are internally displaced people, who, for the same reasons, move to other areas in the country. Refugees are protected under international laws. There’s also 272 million migrants worldwide. Migrants choose to cross borders for many reasons – searching for work or education, escaping hardships as a result of natural disasters, reuniting with family – and are protected under domestic laws, but not international law. Lutheran Disaster Response is dedicated to supporting displaced people – and so can you! Here are a few ways to support refugees and migrants in your daily life: 


1. Worship with refugee and migrant communities 

There are ELCA congregations around the country with ministries that support refugees and migrants from around the world. The ELCA is a sanctuary denomination, meaning that our faith calls us to walk alongside refugees and immigrants. Through the AMMPARO strategy and support of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the ELCA shows its dedication to welcoming immigrants and refugees, regardless of country of origin.   

2. Help children gain perspective on refugees 

By talking about refugees with children, you are showing why it is important to be compassionate and treat others with dignity. Learning about refugees and immigrants from a young age can prepare children for when they interact with them throughout their lives. Try using this educational toolkit from the United Nations Refugee Agency or find age-appropriate books 

3. Support migrant and refugee-owned businesses 

Find refugee-owned businesses in your area and support them. If there aren’t any in your town, try online! If you own a business yourself, try to source from refugee or migrant artisans. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, when small businesses of any variety are struggling. 

Iraqi refugees crossing the Hungarian border. Photo: ACT Alliance/Fekete Dániel

4. Understand why this issue matters 

As people of God, we are called to love our neighbor and care for those in need. The ELCA social message on immigration says “The presence of newcomers in our church and society heightens our awareness of these realities and of the experience of new immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the United States. This awareness makes us more appreciative of the gifts our new neighbors bring and of the barriers as well as the opportunities they encounter. 


5. Donate 

Lutheran Disaster Response supports refugees and host communities around the world. Donations to the South Sudan fund, the Middle East and Europe Refugee Crisis fund, and AMMPARO will be used in full to support our work with refugees and migrants to bring them hope and renewal in a tumultuous time.  



Adapted from “5 ways to support refugees during the coronavirus crisis from the UNHCR 


Introduction from New Lutheran Disaster Response Program Interpreter


My name is Megan Brandsrud, and I am both excited and thankful to be the new Program Interpreter for Lutheran Disaster Response. As I begin my second week at the ELCA Churchwide office, I am grateful for all of the welcoming colleagues who continue to help me orient myself into this role.

Coincidentally, the flooding in Colorado occurred just before I started working in this role, so I had the opportunity to be a part of initial conversations and meetings between staff and affiliates in the impacted area. It was humbling and impressive to hear of the dedication and efforts being carried out by leaders in the areas affected by the flooding.

I look forward to sharing Lutheran Disaster Response’s powerful stories with you as we put God’s work into action and help those impacted overcome the effects of disaster.

Our New Look!

Lutheran Disaster Response LogoThis past week some of you may have noticed a “slight” difference in the look of our disaster response communications/media. This is because ELCA Disaster Response has now been re-branded as Lutheran Disaster Response! Or another way of looking at it is that Lutheran Disaster Response will now designate both the ELCA’s disaster work in the U.S. and internationally.

Our main reason for this change was to lessen the confusion which has existed between these two labels/brands of our disaster work. It is also a way of strengthening the connections between our work internationally and in the U.S. Though our responses around the globe may all be local the way the ELCA engages them includes some strong similarities whether in the U.S. or internationally. Being able to highlight this joint understanding of our disaster response work is something we are very excited about.

So please join us in lifting up and celebrating this new, and historic, way of identifying our work. To learn more, check out the newly redesigned Lutheran Disaster Response portion of the ELCA website.

New Resource: Hurricane Sandy Situation Report #2

A new situation report giving an update on the situation in the northeaster United States and Caribbean as well as the ELCA’s response is now available. Please help us spread the word of how the ELCA is engaged in the response and what people can do to help.

Here is a link for your convenience: Hurricane Sandy Situation Report #2 (November 9, 2012)

Gifts to ELCA Disaster Response allow the church to respond domestically and internationally in times of need. Donate now.