THE SOUND OF SILENCE: HAITI AND THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
The Episcopal Church of Haiti, the Episcopal Church diocese in Haiti, has, by some counting, the largest number of baptized members of any diocese in the Episcopal Church. Often this is mentioned in the same paragraph that observes that the Episcopal Church is present in 16 countries. There is considerable pride by some in the fact that the Diocese of Haiti is both a sign of mission action that worked, and a sign of the international character of The Episcopal Church.
With all that pride, it is damning that the budget for support of the Diocese of Haiti has not changed for at least 20 years, that interest in funding for rebuilding the Church in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010 has dwindled, that the Cathedral project has stalled, and that not a peep is heard about the governance of the Church in Haiti.
There is no Diocesan bishop in Haiti as the process for moving forward to the election of a bishop seems to have ground to a halt. A convention in Haiti elected a bishop, but the US dioceses did not consent to the election. So now the diocese is beginning again to do the work towards election, guided by its Standing Committee with pastoral oversight from other Bishops in The Episcopal Church. But we hear nothing of any concern of, or interest by,The Episcopal Church.
The 2022 General Convention of The Episcopal Church made almost no mention of Haiti at all. At the Lambeth Conference there is no Diocesan bishop from Haiti. And, as far as I can tell, no recognition of any sort of that absence.
But more importantly, there is nothing being heard from Church leaders in either The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion about the chaos in Haitian political and social life, nothing about prayer for Haiti, for the church of Haiti, nothing about prayer for the people and country.
But maybe I missed it.
Here is the thing: Haiti as a country is on the verge of major collapse. Some of the leaders of the movement to restart elections and reestablish a fully functioning government are beginning to speak of the need for revolution. They recognize that it is increasingly impossible for a corrupt system to rein in the gangs, the kidnappings, and the brutal violence in the streets. But what will happens if Haiti as a state simply implodes? By who and how will there be any movement beyond the chaos of gang rule?
And in that context, what will is the work and ministry of the Episocpal Church of Haiti and of the Episcopal Church as a whole?
Regularly on Sunday morning I check in on FaceBook with Epiphany parish in Port-au-Prince. The video stream of the Eucharist is a reminder to me that the Church in Haiti is alive and functioning and that the essential work is continuing. That service reminds me that brave and tenacious faithful people gather, even in increasingly difficult circumstances.
The Episcopal Church ought to have a real interest in, and support of, the Church in Haiti so that it can choose and validate Haitian leadership of the Church. But it seems silent and inattentive.
The Episcopal Church ought to have a real interest in, and support of changes in Haiti’s civil society that would foster a more just, less chaotic, community. But there seems to be silence there as well.
As it stands The Episcopal Church seems in a reactive mode rather than a reflective or proactive mode. Are there any conversations with Haitian church leaders about how TEC can be supportive either of the Church of Haiti or the people of Haiti? If there are, why do we hear little. If there are not, why not?