New chief: Disasters drive UMCOR changes

10/16/2007

By United Methodist News Service

Recent major disasters – 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Asian tsunami – have led The United Methodist Church’s relief organization “to rethink how we do everything,” according to its new chief executive.

The Rev. Sam Dixon, interim leader of the United Methodist Committee on Relief since Jan. 31, was elected permanently to the position Oct. 10. The election came during the annual meeting of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, UMCOR’s parent agency. The 58-year-old pastor oversees the board’s Health and Relief unit, which includes UMCOR and the health and welfare department, and he also leads the mission volunteers unit. Dixon said the magnitude of recent disasters – along with the generous response by church members to fund relief efforts – has changed the way UMCOR operates.

The changes include more participation by staff in other parts of the Board of Global Ministries; establishing relationships with new organizations in new areas, such as with Muslim Aid in Sri Lanka and Indonesia; and dealing with other development issues, such as microcredit, sanitation and health care.

The biggest task, Dixon, added, “is just preparing for the next one.”