Church youth take shelter, pray for others, as typhoon hits Philippines

Update: Organizers of the Global Young People's Convocation have moved the event to a venue called Island Cove near Manila, due to damages caused by Typhoon Rammasun at the venue in Tagaytay. 

Original report follows:

Youth and young adults from across the United Methodist connection were safely sheltered as of mid-morning in Tagaytay during Typhoon Rammasun, locally known as Glenda.  

Delegates and observers for the Global Young People’s Convocation, hosted by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, have been arriving at the Center for Community Transformation for the July 16 opening event.

Participants were awakened in the middle of the night by strong winds and rain. The storm was the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in the region, according to news reports.

Convo participants gathered in the common meeting spaces of each building. Young people supported one another with songs and prayers through the early morning hours. They prayed for the nearby community and those with less secure shelter.  

The Young People’s Ministry Division of the board moved the entire convocation to a central secure building during the eye of the storm. Other buildings sustained damage to roofs, windows and minor flooding. The damage prompted event organizers to move some of the young people to new hotels.

“Everyone at the CCT center is safe. Our team is in the process of making plans for moving forward,” said Mike Ratliff, board staff executive for Young People’s Ministries, after confirming everyone was accounted for.

Almost 300 delegates from around the world were reported safe in the center’s Isaiah Hall, and food was available, a volunteer said.

Plumbing was out, however, and lights were sporadic, according to the Rev. Steve Horswill-Johnston, a board staff executive.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward was meeting with youth in a safe room during the morning, “and all seems to be well,” Horswill-Johnston said.

Bishop Rodolfo Juan, president of the College of Bishops of the Philippines Central Conference said, “We assure the whole world and our connection that everybody will be safe and we will do everything to find a better venue.”

This report was written with contributions from Hannah Hanson of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and Gladys Mangiduyos, a correspondent for United Methodist Communications.

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