New Windsor ecumenical conference targets drought relief in four states

August 26, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare and Anne Haddad | Mary Gail Hare and Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

An ecumenical drought conference today at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor will focus on how to help farm families in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Agencies, including Farm Aid, Orphan's Grain Train and Church World Services, are joining the Church of the Brethren in the effort, said conference coordinator Stan Noffsinger, manager of the Brethren Center's Emergency Response Services Ministry.

"People will consider the drought's impact on a heavily populated area with hundreds of family farmers," said Noffsinger.

Representatives from the four states have been invited to the daylong conference. Leaders from Lutheran, Mennonite and other churches will participate, Noffsinger said.

"We want to know the impact of the drought in your state," he said. " This is an opportunity to think about what will happen if we don't get significant rainfall soon and what is our long-term potential for assistance."

Rather than respond to the imminent disaster, with measures such as hay lifts, Noffsinger wants the group to consider grants for medical care or college tuition.

"We want to get all issues on the table," he said.

Through sharing all responses to the drought, the conference could be a springboard for relief measures. Farm Aid, founded by country and western singer Willie Nelson, has invited the Brethren Center to submit a grant request, said Noffsinger.

"We will have a day of hearing what local efforts are and how the community of faith can respond without replicating the effort," he said. "Really creative ideas will come from this. We want to provide the greatest benefit possible."

For those who cannot attend, Noffsinger has promised minutes from the conference.

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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