April Mercado: Technology aids disaster recovery

This profile of Special Projects Manager Philippines, April Grace G. Mercado, was first published on August 14, 2014. Mercado will speak at the 2015 Game Changers Summit hosted by United Methodist Communications, Sept. 17 - 19, in Nashville, Tennessee. This year’s focus will be harnessing the power of information and communications technology (ICT) for global good. The aim is to demonstrate how ICT can be used to improve all facets of life throughout the developing world. Join us for this exciting event.

April Grace G. Mercado has seen firsthand how technology can save lives after a disaster. As part of a team sent by United Methodist Communications days after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, Mercado helped assess needs and spread information.

“We connected to the emergency telecom cluster to get our stories out of the area,” Mercado says. “When Haiyan happened, all communication towers were knocked down. Satellite phones were rendered useless because of thick clouds overhead. The only useful form of communication was ham radios.”

The team also distributed solar chargers to survivors to combat widespread power outages, and solar lamps to cut down on using oil lamps, which pose fire and health hazards.

Food, water and shelter are an immediate need in the aftermath of disaster, but Mercado also sees technology as a vital tool in keeping survivors informed of where to find aid, or where to go for safety.

“We could have prevented much loss of life if information had been disseminated properly to the public. That might have saved all the senior citizens and children who perished while taking refuge in the basement of the Leyte Coliseum,” Mercado wrote in a commentary for United Methodist News Service.

Mercado feels that providing technology for disaster relief or for long-term development is an ideal ministry for The United Methodist Church.

“Our world is changing. The church needs to follow the times. It’s important our church follows technology changes to minister to more people, not just typical Sunday churchgoers. You can reach out to more people by social media, you can witness through Twitter, Ustream, Facebook. That’s how I see ICT as being important in ministry of church today.”

*Butler is a multimedia editor/producer for United Methodist Communications.

Be a game changer! Register for the 2015 Game Changers Summit, Sept. 17 - 19.


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Bishops
The Holston Conference’s Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor embraces the Rev. David Graves following his election as United Methodist bishop at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2016. On April 30, the Council of Bishops affirmed its decision to delay electing any new leaders until after the postponed General Conference. File photo by Annette Spence, Holston Conference.

Bishops’ election plans draw mixed reaction

Many General Conference delegates praised the bishops for retracting an earlier recommendation of four-year hold on United Methodist elections. But some still have misgivings about a delay until 2022.
General Church
The three European central conferences of The United Methodist Church covering 32 countries and 10 time zones are making plans for a proposed denomination-wide split. Four bishops (clockwise from top left), Edward Khegay, Christian Alsted, Harald Rückert and Patrick Streiff, have drafted next steps should a separation plan win General Conference approval. Image courtesy of the bishops.

Europeans make plans for separation

Under a proposed separation plan, some European churchgoers expect to remain with The United Methodist Church while others join a new traditionalist denomination.
Bishops
The Virginia Conference’s Bishop Sharma D. Lewis (upper right corner) leads the devotional during the April 30 session of the United Methodist Council of Bishops spring meeting. The bishops maintained that no elections of bishops or agency board members would be held this year, despite some delegates urging otherwise. Screengrab courtesy of the Council of Bishops via ZOOM by UM News.

Bishops: No episcopal elections until 2022

United Methodist bishops declined General Conference delegates’ calls for episcopal elections this year but opened the door to a vote on new leaders in 2022.