Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Praise for the people of Christ Episcopal Church, among other churches, for their response to Haiti

I realize that I'm writing a lot here about Haiti, because that country and its people are in the news and in my heart.

That's one of the things about going to Haiti--meeting the people, seeing the smiling faces and hearing the laughter of the little ones, worshiping with people of such strong and vital faith in God--you never leave Haiti; Haiti never leaves you. You carry it with you, close to you.

So, I'll go on writing about Haiti and other topics, perhaps even about this year's Trinity Institute at Trinity Wall Street, New York City. I'm in the City now, after arriving late last night following a six hour delay at the airport in Chicago.

I'm looking forward to hearing what Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has to say about economics and justice.

In a just world, Haiti would not have been in the shape it was before the earthquake: the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

As one of the baptised, I'm working for a just world. Follow the link below and hear my sermon from Sunday on, you guessed it, Haiti. http://homepage.mac.com/asorenso/.Public/012410c.mp3

Bishop Duracin of Haiti writes

People wonder about the situation, especially for our fellow Episcopalians in Haiti. Here is a letter from the Bishop of Haiti. Bishop Duracin writes to Robert W. Radke, President of Episcopal Relief and Development, a ministry of our church. Please keep Bishop Duracin, Father Fritz Valdema (Pere Val), and his wife Carmel in your prayers. They are all doing heroic and faithful work shepherding their flock.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our LordJesus Christ.
I am writing to you from the tent city we have set upbehind the rubble of College Ste. Pierre, our marvelous seniorsecondary school that is no more. As you know, we have gatheredapproximately 3,000 people here alone. Across the land, the Diocese ofHaiti has set up at least 21 refugee camps, caring for more than23,000 people.
In this letter, I wish to make clear to the Diocese ofHaiti, to Episcopal Relief and Development and to all of our partnersthat Episcopal Relief and Development is the official agency of theDiocese of Haiti and that we are partners working hand-in-hand inHaiti’s relief and recovery efforts.
I also am announcing in this letter that I am appointingThe Rev. Lauren R. Stanley, Appointed Missionary of The EpiscopalChurch, to work directly with ERD on my behalf. I am asking allpartners in The Episcopal Church to communicate directly with Rev.Stanley, so as to keep communications with the Diocese of Haiti open.Rev. Stanley is to communicate and work with ERD on my behalf.
In addition, I am asking that all of our partners in thePresbyterian Church USA work directly with ERD, with Rev. Stanley asthe central communications person. PCUSA has worked with us for manyyears, and we are deeply grateful for their compassion and theircommitment to the people of Haiti.
We in the Diocese of Haiti have a vision and a plan forthis relief and recovery effort. We know the situation on the ground,we are directing emergency relief to those who need it most, and wealready are making plans and moving forward to help our people. Sincethe earthquake struck, we have been and will continue to work closelywith your two representatives here, Ms. Katie Mears and Ms. KirstenMuth. I have complete confidence in you and your agency.
Finally, I wish to make it plain: I know that many of ourpartners wish to come to Haiti right now to help. Please tell themthat unless they are certified professionals in relief and recovery,they must wait. We will need them in the months and years to come, but at this point, it is too dangerous and too much of a burden for ourpeople to have mission teams here. Please tell our partners, the people of The Episcopal Church, thepeople of the United States and indeed the people of the world that wein Haiti are immensely grateful for their prayers, their support andtheir generosity. This is a desperate time in Haiti; we have lost so much. But we still have the most important asset, the people of God,and we are working continuously to take care of them.
I hope that this letter will help all of us work together to help God’s beloved people in Haiti. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. If others have questions or concerns, please askthem to contact you or to work directly with Rev. Stanley.
Faithfully,Mgr. Jean Zaché DuracinEvêque d'Haïti

Monday, January 18, 2010

A report on my time in Haiti--miracles accomplished, miracles needed

I saw God working miracles in Haiti during my week there with our mission team, miracles in the people, miracles in me. And now Haiti needs another, a greater miracle, following the earthquake of last Tuesday.

In my sermon from yesterday, which you can listen to by going to the link below, I talk about my week in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and I appeal to people to be part of God's newest and greatest miracle for the people.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Here's one way you can help Haiti, in addition to prayer

I have just learned that our Haiti partners in ministry, Father Fritz Valdema, and his wife Carmel and their family are safe. They slept outside last night. They still have little news of church members.

Knowing that Penny and I and our mission team have recently returned from Haiti, people are writing and calling, asking how they can help Haiti following the horrific earthquakes and aftershocks of Tuesday, January 10.

Today, Penny and I sent a check to Episcopal Relief and Development, The Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Ave., New York, NY, 10017.

Dave and Alice Williams, Episcopal Relief and Development coordinators for the Diocese of West Missouri, write:

"Episcopal Relief and Development is well established in Haiti and will respond immediately to the needs of the Haitian people.

"Through our program partner, the Diocese of Haiti, we already have people on the ground, and we already have contacts with local authorities and agencies to quickly provide aid and assistance to the people.

"ERD doesn't have to organize a team or send people into the country or establish aid centers; we're already there!

"Please help by contributing to ERD...; 92 cents of every dollar given through ERD will go directly to the people of Haiti.

"Checks with "Haiti Relief" in the memo field will go directly to the support of the Haitian recovery efforts.

"...We will be having a conference call tomorrow evening with ERD New York and the ERD Network and if anything new or different comes from that, we'll let you know immediately...."

Thank you for your prayers and other expressions of concern for the people of Haiti.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A first reflection on my week in Haiti

I've seen poverty in the United States, but nothing compares to the poverty I saw last week in Haiti.

Penny and I spent January 2 through January 8 there as part of a Christ Episcopal Church mission team. Christ Church teams have served there once or twice a year since 1996.

I had heard that Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. And then I saw that reality for myself.

Even in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the majority of Haitians live in shacks made of boards and corrugated metal or, for the better off, in squat houses made of cinder blocks; they have no indoor plumbing or reliable electricity (the power goes off in the late afternoon); little or no clean water for drinking and washing; no trash pickup; little or no access to medical or dental care; and no regular work, the unemployment rate exceeding 50 percent.

For most Haitian, every day is a right for survival.

Blue-helmeted, heavily armed UN troops rumble down the streets in trucks or drive by in jeeps or stand, guarding intersections. This was my first visit to a country whose peace and security are the responsibility of the United Nations's troops and police.

Haiti, our neighbor just to the south of Florida, is a tragedy.

And, yet, I returned from my week there full of hope and joy and with a deepened faith in Christ and a renewed commitment to the work of the church. The church, including our own, is making a profound difference for the good there.

I'll reflect more about my time in Haiti in future columns here.

For now, take a look at the photos that Penny and I took during our mission week. Go to:


And please pray for the people of Haiti.