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Building Resilience

Building Resilience

By Episcopal Relief & Development

The new hip word in disaster response and trauma studies is “resilience.” The term is tossed around in think pieces and headlines so frequently it is easy to lose sight of its meaning.

Resilience is an individual or community’s capacity to survive, adapt, grow and, if needed, transform when conditions require it.* It includes infrastructure, pollution, food security, education, racial and national animus, employment and much, much more. In fact, Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities, likes to say “resilience is everything.”

Viewed through a resilience lens, we can see that disasters expose and amplify the problems that are already present in the community.

The good news is that churches are (and have been) deeply involved in building resilience.  All of the outreach ministries and relationship building that we do can dramatically affect how our communities experience and recover from disasters. Everything from bringing casseroles to sick people to hosting addiction recovery groups in our parish halls helps to improve resilience.

Disaster preparedness is more than having a plan for what to do when bad events happen. It is about being present with our neighbors and building strong communities ahead of time.

So, go beyond the plan. Find ways to reach out, connect with vulnerable people and try to lift up everyone in your community.

Simple Ideas for Resilience-Building:

  • Volunteer with an anti-poverty organization
  • Make sure all of the members in your congregation know how to text message
  • Hold church dinners and invite local first responders
  • Participate in your local interfaith network
  • Test your fire alarms
  • Plant or tend your church garden
  • Advocate for disenfranchised people in your town
  • Reduce your carbon emissions
  • And more!

*Adapted from 100 Resilient Cities’ definition.


You can also build resilience by completing the Episcopal Asset Map Survey for your parish!

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