The Episcopal Church of Haiti (note, not the Diocese, but the Church) began as an autonomous church with connections to The Episcopal Church. Its source was the visionary church of James Theodore Holly, who as a priest came to Haiti in 1862 and began a ministry here with the name "The Apostolic Orthodox Church of Haiti," that church became "The Episcopal Church of Haiti" in 1874 on Bishop Holly's election and in 1913 it became a missionary district, and later a diocese, of The Episcopal Church.
The vision of Bishop Holly - for a national apostolic orthodox church in Haiti - was a vision dimmed by necessity in hard times but the light is being lit anew, in a variety of events now taking place in the life of this vibrant diocese.
The first sign of that renewed vision has taken place over the past year and now is in full effect. The Association of Women of the Episcopal Church of Haiti have initiated a change in their 100 year use of monies gathered for a thank offering.
In the past they gave the whole of that ingathering each year to the United Thank Offering, by way of the Blue Box offering. That work has gone gladly and freely to the whole effort of UTO in the world and is grounded in prayer and thankful response, as is UTO throughout the church.
Beginning this year the thankful response of the Women of the Episcopal Church of Haiti will be taken in two offerings - one in January, which will go as always to the UTO offering for the mission of the church worldwide.
A second offering will be taken, known as the "Ofrann Sakit Karabela - OKS" OKS will go to the work of mission in Haiti, in the whole of Haiti, at a time when the mission of the church in this nation is expanding. The Ofrann Sakit Karabela will be gathered, not in traditional Blue Boxes, but in blue bags similar to those in which women street vendors used to keep their earnings. These Blue Sacks will signal the careful use by women of moneys raised by women for the good of household of the church in Haiti - the Episcopal Church of Haiti.
The distinction of these two offerings is a sign of growing autonomy of The Episcopal Church of Haiti as it begins to think of its future. As perhaps the largest diocese in The Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church of a country - Haiti - many are looking to the day when the single diocese for this church will become several diocese, and ultimately form again the national apostolic catholic body that Bishop Holly envisioned. The Women of the Episcopal Church of Haiti are leading the way, acknowledging their unity with the work of mission through the Episcopal Church and their commitment to mission done within the life of the growing and increasingly autonomous church in their own country.
May both ingatherings be bountiful expressions of the thanksgiving that these women (and men) and all of us have for God's grace and blessing, and may the mission of the Episcopal Church of Haiti prosper.