If you were wondering what the Anglican Communion is good for... or at least what good neighbors are good for:
NEW ZEALAND: Bishop's challenge raises $120,000 for Haiti relief
This gift -- an expression of "thanks and praise" -- was announced Oct. 30 by Bishop Victoria Matthews of the Diocese of Christchurch midway through the diocesan synod.
Calling the diocesan response "magnificent," Matthews said it also proved that recovery from the Canterbury earthquake was not impossible.
The Bishop's Haiti appeal -- with a target of $100,000 -- was launched just over a month ago, when every Anglican in Canterbury was urged to give "out of the abundance of their love for God and neighbor."
"We give thanks that no one lost their life in the massive [Canterbury] earthquake," Matthews said at the time. "Simply reach deep into your pocket and heart and give. It will bring joy beyond all telling."
Matthews confessed to synod that she wondered whether she was "stark raving mad" for setting such an ambitious goal. But one month on, the joy of vindication was evident: "I congratulate and thank you," she beamed at synod members.
The magnitude-7 Jan. 12 Haiti quake killed up to 250,000 people. To date, only two percent of the rubble has been cleared away and many thousands of people are still huddled in makeshift camps.
The Christchurch synod heard first-hand about the squalor there from Greg Jackson, media officer for Christian World Service, who has spent time in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince.
Synod also devoted much of its session to a review of the Canterbury earthquake, focusing not just on damaged churches but also on ways of extending support and counseling to victims across the region.
A significant number of Canterbury's oldest, most iconic and best-loved churches were among the buildings most seriously damaged by a magnitude-7 earthquake that rattled South Island on Sept. 4.
Christchurch Cathedral -- the icon of Canterbury -- was spared in the quake because of a multi-million dollar strengthening project undertaken a few years ago. With ongoing aftershocks the risk of falling debris kept the cathedral off-limits until Sept. 22.
Old masonry and brick buildings -- built before the 1931 Napier quake ushered in changes in building codes -- were hardest hit by the quake. Reportedly two-thirds of the 160,000 houses in and around the capital, Christchurch, were damaged, but no one was killed.
"The Canterbury earthquake was equal in strength to the devastating earthquake that killed and tore asunder Haiti in January 2010," Matthews said in a pastoral letter read in all parishes on Sept. 26.
The Haiti fund will be dispersed through several major aid agencies.