The disaster ministry work of Jamie Aten, the newest columnist for Church Law & Tax, has brought him to various locales: communities hit by flooding and tornadoes, schools recovering from mass shootings, religious organizations in need of training. One of his most recent travel stops, however, was different in nature.
On September 13, Aten received a Community Preparedness Champion Award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at their annual White House awards ceremony. According to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate (in a press release provided by A Larry Ross Communications), the 11 who were honored in this year’s ceremony “are building communities that are more prepared for emergencies through creativity, innovation, and collaboration.” Aten, who founded and now co-directs Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI)—“the country’s first faith-based academic disaster research center”—arrived at the ceremony in the midst of such work: he had been with an HDI team in Louisiana, assisting in flooding relief efforts.
CLT first interviewed Aten about his work with trauma relief in 2013. He then began his role as a monthly columnist for CLT this August, with a piece titled “How to Start a Disaster Ministry.” In it, he wrote that after “interview[ing] church leaders about disaster ministries all over the globe . . . [he] found a common barrier to getting started: many don’t know where to begin.”
Helping them to find that starting point—and getting them equipped in case of a crisis—is Aten’s passion, and one he wants to cultivate in others: “I hope to encourage others to continue their work in helping groups prepare before disaster strikes. . . . Our mission is to help all faith-based communities be ready to provide holistic care after the unthinkable.”
You can find future columns by Aten on ChurchLawAndTax.com here.
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