Responding to emergencies - Our approach

Java, Indonesia, earthquake survivors receiving Church World Service blankets
Java, Indonesia, earthquake survivors receiving Church World Service blankets.
Photo: Harun Tambing/Church World Service-Indonesia

The goal of Church World Service is to assure that vulnerable persons and communities, in the aftermath of natural and human caused disaster, will achieve long-term physical, psychological and spiritual recovery and acquire sustainable forms of preparedness.

To do this, Church World Service enables its member communions to effectively join together through its activities and the work of CWS partners in disaster preparedness, mitigation, and response.  CWS encourages all religious organizations to coordinate when disaster strikes with others in the faith community so that those in need receive assistance most efficiently and effectively.

What We Do

International Disaster Response | Domestic Disaster Response | Material Shipments

International Disaster Response

CWS has worked in disaster response and rehabilitation overseas since its inception in 1946.

Worldwide, Church World Service responds to disasters:

  1. As a member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International -- the emergency response consortium of churches and church-related agencies coordinated by Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Council of Churches (WCC)
  2. Through key partners in Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East, and Southern Asia and its member communions

In general, CWS responds to disasters overseas where:

  1. It has existing partners, related staff, or member communions in an area
  2. The affected disaster area has limited resources and
  3. Response activities give priority to vulnerable groups -- inlcuding children, mothers, older persons, diasabled persons.

In response to overseas disasters, CWS may:

CWS participates in Interaction, an association of U.S.-based non-governmental agencies (NGOs) engaged in relief and development activities worldwide.

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Disaster Response in the U.S.

CWS helps disaster-affected people and communities achieve recovery by providing relief items, financial assistance and technical expertise.

Relief items
CWS provides important relief items such as Emergency Clean-up Buckets and Hygiene Kits to disaster-affected communities.

Early response and sustainability grants
CWS grants may be given to local, long-term recovery groups to assist with the initial tasks of organizing and staffing or to sustain the effort over the long term.

Training in disaster recovery
Webinar-based training is offered on the first Tuesday of each month on an aspect of long-term recovery.  Three times each year, a six-hour series, conducted over two days, addresses the basics of Long-Term Recovery.

Recovery Tools and Training is a full-day workshop led by a CWS Emergency Response Specialist and other experts with information to assist long-term recovery groups. This workshop covers the full gamut of long-term recovery needs.

Community Arise is an online course in disaster ministry that was developed by some of the most experienced disaster responders in the nation.

Contact a CWS Emergency Response Specialist to learn more about training opportunities in disaster recovery.

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Material Shipments

Church World Service ships material aid by sea or air almost anywhere in the world subject to U.S. Government and host government regulations. All materials it ships enter countries duty-free and are distributed through consignees with storage and distribution capacity. The CWS material resources program:

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