10/18/2013

Good News for Episcopal Church in Haiti support

Executive Council at its meeting October 15-17, passed a resolution regarding Haiti, a summary of which was reported by ENS (Episcopal News Service).   It bodes well for the effort to support the Church in Haiti. ENS reports that Executive Council took action to

"Reaffirm the council’s February 2010 challenge to the church to raise $10 million for the Diocese of Haiti recovery effort; reaffirm its commitment to the authority of Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin and the leadership of the diocese to direct the resources required to rebuild the diocese; direct council’s Finances for Ministry committee to consider including some funding itemized as a line in the current budget to the Holy Trinity Cathedral Rebuilding Project (HTCRP); urge the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to address funding of the cathedral rebuilding project in the next triennial budget; challenge every grant-making or funding organization that is a part of the Episcopal Church to prioritize the cathedral project and make funds available to it; invite Anglican and ecumenical partners to financially join in the project; challenges all partner relationships with Haiti to tithe a portion of their current financial assistance to the cathedral project; call for a special offering on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, the anniversary of the earthquake, in every congregation in the Episcopal Church for the cathedral budget; commend the work of the Development Office of the Episcopal Church in the HTCRP; call on the whole church to keep the people of Haiti and the recovery effort in its continuing prayers (WM017)."

This is an amazingly helpful resolution. It acknowledges the initial challenge made in February 2010. I was pleased to be part of that challenge. ENS then reported

"The $10-million Haiti challenge, proposed by out-going council member and Diocese of Connecticut Bishop-elect Ian Douglas, grew out of his colleague Mark Harris' call to the council to set aside a tithe from the remainder of the church's 2010-2012 budget for the reconstruction of the church in Haiti. He said that "the hurt to the family" in Haiti "requires a pledge on our part that doesn't come from the largess or the abundance of our lives, but comes from the core and, I would suggest, essentially our flesh." Without such support, Harris said, the future of the church in Haiti will "suffer in ways which we would be very sad to see happen." 

The effort to bring substantial support to Haiti has undergone several iterations but finally is taking on full form through the combined efforts of a variety of agencies in Haiti and the Episcopal Church.  If you go to the Episcopal Church website page, "Haiti, more than a Cathedral" the picture of what the funding will do is greatly widened.  Additionally there are good links to other important information about the way in which the Church in Haiti is reordering its work and life.  Those links include
 
The EC resolution (WM017) states that (The Executive Council does) "reaffirm its commitment to the authority of Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin and the leadership of the diocese to direct the resources required to rebuild the diocese." This is a profoundly important supportive statement.  
 
Bishop Duracin and his staff and clergy are engaged in a long term effort to bring the Episcopal Church in Haiti to a place of greater self-sufficiency, a place of "autonomy in mutuality," in which financial support from friends throughout the world is managed so that the reality of the ministry in Haiti is genuinely Haitian.  
 
All in all a finely crafted and supportive resolution. 
 
The ministry of the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Sauls, the Development Office, the work of staff at the Church Center, and Episcopal Relief and Development have all contributed greatly to the continued work done in support of the Church in Haiti.
 
When the first call for support went out several members of Executive Council made substantial contributions. While mine was a lesser contribution I took a personal "swear" that I would be personally present in Haiti in some way. After several short trips to Haiti in the following two years (I had had many over the span of 45 years)  I took a three month stint as "scholar in residence" at the Seminary in Haiti. 
 
From that longer stay I came away all the more convinced that The Episcopal Church in Haiti is not only a diocese, it is a national church.  It is not only widely distributed across the country, it plays an important role in the life of Haiti on all levels. 
 
The Episcopal Church in Haiti is a national church with one diocese at present. Because the church is growing, and growing stronger, the bishop has called for the creation of new dioceses.That will happen as the challenges of change are met. But when it happens my sense is that certain institutions - the Seminary, the Cathedral, the University, and others will continue as national institutions, owned and directed by The Episcopal Church in Haiti as a whole.

These are exciting times for the Church in Haiti and this resolution is good news.

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