When Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, congregations across Greater Houston did what came naturally, they responded. They poured themselves out to care for their disaster-affected neighbors. Congregations also began working together, forming disaster response coalitions to coordinate efforts, which typically does not come as naturally. Houston Responds was formed to support those coalitions and launch others like them across Greater Houston, Texas, and beyond.
Disaster response coalitions initially focused on providing compassionate care and home repair for disaster survivors, and these long-term recovery efforts continue. The disasters persisted with Tropical Storm Imelda, a chemical plant explosion, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the crisis of systemic racism, which was not new, but newly brought to light. Congregations have continued responding, with their coalitions and Houston Responds. From repairing homes to distributing masks and food to convening conversations about racial injustice, our definition of disaster has expanded, as congregations and coalitions begin responding not only to natural disasters, but human disasters, and the ongoing crises their communities face.
Whatever the crisis, and however congregations are called to respond, our role is the same. It is to facilitate communication, coordination, and collaboration between congregations in local communities, so they can focus on what they do best, loving God and loving their neighbors, especially those in need.
The mission of Houston Responds is to unite, empower and mobilize churches across Greater Houston to expedite long-term recovery, respond to community crises, and prepare for future disasters.
The vision is twenty disaster response coalitions and 1,000 churches across Greater Houston engaging in disaster response and walking with every disaster-affected neighbor in their community through full recovery.
Engage at least 1,000 churches in disaster readiness, relief, and recovery.
Launch and support twenty sustainable church coalitions covering Greater Houston.
Expand multi-ethnicity at every level, representing the diversity of Greater Houston.
Broaden scope to include responding to human disasters and community crises.
Partner with local agencies to amplify their services and coordinate community response.
Raise funds for coalition leadership and administration in under-resourced areas.
Develop knowledge base and blueprint for expanding to Texas and the U.S.