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UUA-UUSC Japan Fund supports religious partners after quake

Rissho Kosei-kai congregations in Northern Japan are among the damaged.
By Donald E. Skinner

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A relief team carries emergency supplies to disaster victims

A Rissho Kosei-kai relief team carries emergency supplies to disaster victims in northern Japan. (Courtesy Rissho Kosei-kai)

Unitarian Universalists had donated $200,000 to Japanese relief efforts as of April 8. On March 11 the northeast coast of Japan was hit with a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake followed by a tsunami. More than 12,000 people were killed, 15,000 are missing, and more than 500,000 have been displaced. Japan is also coping with a nuclear crisis, the result of severe damage to a nuclear plant from the earthquake and tsunami.

The funds, donated to the Unitarian Universalist Association-UU Service Committee Japan Relief Fund, will be used to support relief efforts by the UUA’s religious partners in Japan, including Rissho Kosei-kai, Tsubaki Grand Shrine, the Konko Church of Izuo, the Tokyo Dojin Church, and the Japan Chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom.

Donations can be made here: uua.kintera.org/japan. Checks can be mailed to Gift Processing, Stewardship and Development, Unitarian Universalist Association, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108. Make checks payable to the “UUA” and indicate “Japan Fund” on the memo line.

The Rev. Eric Cherry, the UUA’s director of International Resources, was in Japan for 10 days in late March, meeting with the partner groups. The trip had been planned before the earthquake, to meet with the partners and to attend a meeting of the International Association for Religious Freedom.

After retuning to the United States, Cherry said in an interview, “I extended the UUA and the UUSC’s condolences to our partner groups and made it clear that American Unitarian Universalists will be supporting them and all Japanese people in prayer, thought, and other support, over the long haul.”

He said many members of the Japanese groups were directly affected by the disasters. “The Rissho Kosei-kai itself has 35 to 40 congregations that have been damaged terribly. Our partners are deeply involved in the support of people who are suffering. They will be involved in the general long-term recovery of Japan, as well.”

Cherry said it has not yet been determined how the UUA-UUSC Japan Relief Fund will be used, but that those decisions would be made in cooperation with our partners.

He added, “It was clear to me that our support means a great deal to them right now. There is definitely an attitude of hope. This is a terrible tragedy and whatever we can do for them will be welcomed.”

Congregations that wish to send notes to the Japanese groups can send them to Cherry's office: The Rev. Eric Cherry, director of International Resources, Unitarian Universalist Association, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108.

Congregations and individuals are urged to contribute to the fund rather than sending any supplies, Cherry said.

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