(March 25, 2010) – Two and a half months after an earthquake devastated Haiti, the Haitian government and relief agencies are working tirelessly to provide food and shelter to tens of thousands of those who remain homeless.
Several church leaders will be in Haiti to look at relief and recovery efforts.
Co-Executive of Global Ministries David Vargas will be joined on the March 27 and 28 trip by Disciples General Minister and President Sharon Watkins; UCC General Minister and President Geoffrey Black; Felix Ortiz, Global Ministries Area Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean; and Cally Rogers-Witte, Co-Executive of Global Ministries with the UCC.
"This pastoral visit is to express our deepest concern and solidarity with our partners in Haiti," stressed General Minister and President Sharon Watkins. "We will pray and grieve together just as Holy Week is about to begin. We will anticipate resurrection both in our liturgical life and in the life of Haiti."
Leaders of both communions express gratitude for the extraordinary outpouring of financial gifts to Haiti from churches in this country. "We are grateful for the overwhelming financial response from our churches," said David Vargas, President of the Division of Overseas Ministries and Co-Executive of Global Ministries. "And we also want our partners there to experience our human presence as one way of letting them know they are not alone."
The delegation will spend time with Patrick Villier, President of the National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH), a network of approximately 6,700 churches in the country-a denominational partner with Global Ministries for 20 years.
CONASPEH provides a variety of educational, spiritual and health services to the community. Since the earthquake, the group has been engaged in emergency efforts, providing funerals for victims and helping to locate the missing. CONASPEH itself was not spared the ravages of the earthquake. Its headquarters building collapsed, destroying its seminary, classrooms and office space and killing many nursing students trapped inside.
Help for CONASPEH and House of Hope, another Global Ministries partner in Haiti, has come from a mix of non-profit organizations and funds, including Week of Compassion, One Great Hour of Sharing, the Global Ministries Child Sponsorship Program, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), the Adventist Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Puerto Rico, among others.
The U.S. pastors will talk with Villier and the CONASPEH board members about plans to rebuild their headquarters, and re-establish services and programs. One significant activity that will take place will be a memorial service to honor all those who died in Haiti because of the earthquake, including the nursing students at CONASPEH.
In addition, the delegation will meet with the staff of House of Hope which runs a program that benefits children laboring as domestic servants as well as young mothers, single girls, and a few elderly women supported by the Christian Center for Integral Development. The delegation also plans to meet with other local partners supported through Church World Service and the ACT Alliance to discuss our ecumenical relief, recovery and long-term development work in the country.
"Our main purpose is to be present," said Vargas. "One of Global Ministries’ priorities is called ‘critical presence.’ That is what we intend to do on this trip, meet God’s people at their point of deepest need and let them know that there is hope."
By: Wanda Bryant Wills: [email protected]