The ELCA quickly mobilized relief, sending an initial $40,000 after an earthquake in February struck central Chile, including Santiago and Concepción.
Measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale, the quake damaged 1.5 million homes and some Lutheran church buildings. At presstime, the government had confirmed 279 deaths, with that number expected to rise.
Initial funding from the ELCA consisted of $10,000 to help the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH); $10,000 for ELCA partner Educación Popular en Salud (EPES) to respond to survivors; and $20,000 for relief through the Action by Churches Together Alliance.
An ecumenical team visited congregations and communities in Concepción in March to assess damage.
ELCA Global Mission regional representative Kathryn Lawler said in a March 1 e-mail that the ecumenical team would include ELCA missionary and EPES founder Karen Anderson, IELCH President Gloria Rojas, the bishop of the Methodist Church in Chile, and a representative of Church World Service, New York.
Lawler said Rojas had contacted all IELCH pastors, who were safe, but most parishioners' homes suffered damage. The situation in Concepción "is chaotic with much destruction," Lawler wrote.
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