UM PACT honors post-Katrina efforts


Special to the Advocate

The Mississippi Conference has won an award for how its conference insurance program responded to property loss from Hurricane Katrina.


The 2006 STEP Award was given to the conference, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and the Cabinet, the Rev. Henderson Rasberry, the conference Board of Trustees and David Stotts, treasurer and director of Finance and Administration. The award, which stands for Striving Toward Emmaus with PACT, was presented at the insurance company’s summit held Oct. 11-14 in Nashville.


UM PACT — United Methodist Property and Casualty Trust — was created in 2005 to provide property and casualty insurance to United Methodist churches. The Mississippi Conference was one of the first to join the program.


Irene Howard, CEO of PACT, presented the awards. The Rev. Chris Cumbest received the award on behalf of Ward and the Cabinet. Stotts accepted the award on behalf of the conference, Rasberry, the Trustees and himself.


The award read: “Recognizing the energy, creativity and strength of The Mississippi Conference Leadership’s remarkable response to Hurricane Katrina, significantly reclaiming property and liability insurance as ministry on behalf of the United Methodist Community.”


“We in Mississippi are honored to receive the STEP award,” Stotts said. “We could not have done in Mississippi what we were able to accomplish without the help of God, the United Methodist connection, PACT, Bill Barham and his office, and David Jackson of Zurich North American, the insurance underwriter, other members of its catastrophic claims team and lead adjuster Ronny Knot and his adjusters.


“I would have never dreamed that we could have addressed the 368 claims for the first time and only have fewer than 25 supplemental claims to address in less than 13 months.  Thanks to all of those who assisted.”


Stotts led the storytelling program during the summit banquet, sharing how Mississippi moved from a participating conference to a conference-wide program. Cumbest told Katrina stories related to insurance efforts and reclaiming ministry opportunities. The North Texas Conference and Missouri Conference participated in the program by sharing their work in becoming a conference wide program in PACT.


During UM PACT’s annual Board of Directors meeting, Bill Barham, risk manager for Mississippi, was recognized for his leadership on the board. Barham served as a founding board member and led the PACT Services Committee for the past three years.


Stotts was elected to a three-year term on the board and will serve on the Underwriting Committee. 


“I am honored to serve on the board,” Stotts said. “We have a lot of work in front of us. I firmly believe having a denominational insurance program will allow ministry to grow in areas that conventional insurance would impede its growth. We will strive to insure ministry and not limit ministry because we can’t obtain the necessary coverage to protect our churches.


“Bill Barham has done a great job, and Mississippi should be proud of his work on the board. We look forward to his continued service to the PACT Services Committee.”