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“The bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.” Exod. 3:2

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
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For more information:

Pamela Burdine
(800) 728-7228, x5839
Send email

Or write to
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Rebuilding Hope After a Disaster

Volunteer working on the side of a house

Photo by Roberta Updegraff

Bobbie Updegraff is an advocate for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). For years, as a writer for Mission Mosaic magazine and a host of other publications, she’s witnessed and documented the incredible acts of PDA volunteers around the world.

Experiencing the positive impact of the long-term assistance Presbyterians provide to others through PDA, Bobbi felt it was important for Presbyterian youth to take part. So, she organized youth camps at volunteer villages along the Gulf Coast. Youth from 16 states took part, helping those directly affected by Hurricane Katrina.

“They don’t realize how vibrant we [Presbyterians] are in the world,” Updegraff says. “These young Presbyterians really learned about those missionaries who went out over 200 years ago to help others. They learned what it means to stand side by side and help people. And, they learned that we make a difference, not only in the United States, but around the world. They realize how active the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) really is because they’ve taken part.”

She never dreamed those in her home presbytery of Northumberland in Pennsylvania would one day be the recipients of the long-term help PDA provides. It wasn’t Hurricane Sandy, as you might suspect, that left homes and businesses in her area devastated. It was two storms many outside Pennsylvania may not even remember—Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.“A lot of church people were affected,” Updegraff says. “The rains came so hard and so fast, the bottleneck caused an extreme amount of force. Water came down the mountain and did damage that looked like a hurricane.”

PDA responded—helping congregations set up volunteer villages across the state to help the people hurting the most.

“I cannot tell you what it felt like to receive the first teams of blue shirts to my area. It was not only touching but it made me very proud to be Presbyterian.”

Many of those accepting the aid of PDA were church members who had served on teams in the Gulf Coast after Katrina. Now, they found themselves in need.

Updegraff says seeing the teams arrive changed the point of view of many Presbyterians in her area. They no longer saw giving to One Great Hour of Sharing as giving to others, but as being and acting as a Presbyterian in the world.

“Instead, it became, ‘We are PDA and we are going to support it,’” Updegraff said. “And it is really true. All Presbyterians are PDA.”

Download a bulletin insert featuring a portion of "Rebuilding Hope After a Disaster" for One Great Hour of Sharing 2014.

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Upcoming Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Events

PHP Advisory Committee

March 30 - April 1, 2014

Presbyterian Hunger Program Advisory Committee meets March 30 - April 1, 2014, in New Orleans, LA, in conjunction with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Advisory Committee and Self-Development of People Steering Committee.

PDA Advisory Committee

March 30 - April 1, 2014

In a One Great Hour of Sharing Joint Meeting, The PDA Advisory Committee will meet in conjunction with PHP Advisory Committee and the SDOP Steering Committee March 30 – April 1 at the Omni Royal Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana. Discussions will include the work and vision of each department, long term Presbyterian involvement, issues and generative thinking.  A mission site tour will be made, followed individual committee meetings, and PHP will visit grant partner, Latino Farmer’s Cooperative of Louisiana.

PDA Advisory Committee

Oct. 8 - 10, 2014

PDA Advisory Committee meets October 8–10 in Louisville.

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