Major Earthquake Hits Japan – Summary Update

Major Earthquake Hits Japan – Summary Update

The most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in recorded history struck off the island nation’s shore on Friday March 11, collapsing buildings, touching off widespread fires and unleashing walls of water up to 30 feet high. The waves swept across rice fields, engulfed towns, dragged houses onto highways, and tossed cars and boats like toys. The 8.9-magnitude quake reached as far as about six miles (10 kilometers) inland in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan’s east coast.

Thousands of people were killed and thousands more are missing, Japanese media reported, citing local and national police. Tens of thousands of people were displaced, according to Japan’s Kyodo News agency. Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the “enormously powerful” earthquake had caused “tremendous damage over a wide area.”

Global Ministries has been in contact with our Japan partners to offer our prayers and support at this difficult time. GM Co-Executives, Cally Rogers-Witte and David Vargas, sent a message of solidarity to the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ) immediately following the earthquake. Xiaoling Zhu, Area Executive for East Asia and Pacific is monitoring the situation. 


We encourage Disciples and UCC to make gifts through our two denominations’ primary emergency relief funds: One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) and Week of Compassion (WOC). Funds from OGHS and WOC already have been channeled through the Global Ministries East Asia and Pacific Office to our denominational partners in Japan, the United Church of Christ of Japan. Please follow the links below to give for Japan:

One Great Hour of Sharing – Donate
March 16 – OGHS Japan Update

Week of Compassion – Donate
March 16 – WoC Japan Update

Global Ministries:
Japan Critical Presence 2011 – Donate



Jeffrey Mensendiek serves the Council on Cooperative Mission where he is assigned to the Emmaus Center in Sendai as director of youth activities.
Martha Mensendiek serves through the Council of Cooperative Mission at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan where she teaches social welfare.
Casilda Luzares serves the United Church of Christ in Japan, Kyoto Conference. She is an English Literature Professor at Doshisha University.
David and Joyce Murchie serve as missionary associates in Japan, and in recent years have taught at Tohoku-Gakuin University in Sendai


  • Rev. Scott Barton of Collenbrook United Church (Presbyterian and U.C.C.) Drexel Hill, PA, wrote the following hymn in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan: O Mighty God, So Strong to Save


Global Ministries has received messages and stories of solidarity which are posted here: messages & stories of solidarity 

For more info on Japan: Japan Country Page