HDI in the United States

In partnership with a wide range of churches, NGOs, and government agencies throughout the United States, the Humanitarian Disaster Institute equips local churches for disasters, and helps organizations work effectively with churches. Here are a few examples of current and past stateside projects and collaborations.

Disaster Ministry Conference

The purpose of our Disaster Ministry Conference is to equip church and lay leaders to serve amid disasters (e.g., natural disasters, refugee crises, mass shootings, acts of terrorism) domestically and internationally. The event features global leaders in disaster ministry, emergency management, humanitarian aid, public health, and mental health fields. Participants will gain new knowledge, skills, and networks for effectively leading their congregations in developing disaster ministries.

2016 GC2 Summit: The Global Refugee Crisis and the Christian Response

LifeWay Research, The Billy Graham Center, the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, World Vision, and World Relief jointly sponsored the GC2 Summit at Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL, on January 20, 2016. With nearly 500 people in attendance, more than 20 evangelical leaders took the stage to call the church to action, noting that the number of displaced persons in the world has reached a staggering new high of nearly 60 million. The GC2 Summit’s name reflects how as Christians we care about the Great Commandment ("love your neighbor as yourselves") and the Great Commission ("go and make disciples"). Attendees discussed refugee resettlement, immigrant ministry, security concerns, ministries of mercy, and a Christian response. New research was presented on how churches are engaging immigrants and refugees, how Americans view immigrants, and more.

Faith-Based Programs for Refugees

HDI partnered with several DuPage County (Illinois) public agencies and the People’s Resource Center to develop a Refugee Safety Skills Program for new immigrants and refugees. Seven areas of risk were identified including: severe winter weather, severe summer weather, home safety, medical safety, crime, fire, and public health. Unlike existing materials, which are based on English and translated into different languages, these materials were grounded in the experience of refugees, and then piloted with refugees attending ESL classes. HDI has plans to convert these materials to video. This work is supported by a grant from the Grainger Company. 

Faith-Based Public Health Preparedness

To promote public health emergency preparedness among congregations in suburban Cook County, HDI collaborated with the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) Community Preparedness and Coordination Unit to host a conference, and develop a guidebook and curriculum for the city.

Alice Schruba Psy.D. ’17 began by working with the CCDPH to survey congregations to understand their current level of preparedness, barriers to working with CCDPH, and areas of support needed to become prepared. To engage the local faith community HDI then created an advisory panel of local religious leaders that helped guide and support the project, and hosted a conference to train local clergy and faith-based leaders in public health preparedness.

Alice next worked with CCDPH to design a guidebook to help church leaders prepare for public health emergencies, the Public Health Planning Guide for Faith Communities includes critical components of effective emergency planning and provides examples of promising practices. “We are giving out the planning guides at various events, such as health/resource fairs & Prepare Chicago workshops,” notes Kate Schellinger, Director of Community Preparedness an Resilience with the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The guidebook is based on the curriculum (developed by HDI in collaboration with the Cook County Department of Public Health) now used by the city of Chicago to train church leaders—building trust, ties, and communication between government and churches to create a web of help in emergencies or disasters. 

Shelter-In-Place Training

HDI collaborated with FEMA to hold a shelter-in-place training for congregations and faith-based organizations. Shelter-in-place is a protective measure in response to a number of natural and man-made disaster situations including chemical spills, severe weather, or radiological events.

This workshop trained facilitators from local congregations, communities, businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to direct problem solving and deal with shelter-in-place issues. The approach built on the understanding that people are more resilient and better able to deal with emergencies when they have an opportunity to think about the issues they would face in advance and figure out what can be done to resolve the obstacles.

Faithful Readiness

HDI hosted a training/workshop for leaders of faith-based and community-based organizations, state and local governments, and the private sector in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V. Part of the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Faithful Readiness effort, the workshop was aimed at helping leaders and communities prepare for all types of emergencies. The training provided:

  • concrete steps to empower organizations and individuals to prepare for emergencies,
  • access to new ideas and resources to engage members and serve communities,
  • opportunities to connect with new partners, and
  • opportunities to receive two certificates of completion from FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute.

Community Emergency Response Team Course for Faith-based Organizations

HDI offered a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Course for Faith-based Organizations in partnership with the Milton Township’s Citizen Corps. Major Michael Rakow Psy.D. ’15 attended the course. He says, “I can definitely see the benefit of having several people from a church attend this. I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t had emergency training.”

Aimed at training and equipping volunteers to respond to and meet the needs of DuPage County’s citizens during a disaster, the course was offered free to residents.