Global Ministries Reaches Out to the Methodist Church of Haiti
By Melissa Hinnen *
Bishop Bruce Ough, President of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), spent the first part of Holy Week in Haiti with The Reverend Gesner Paul, head of the Methodist Church of Haiti (EMH). Accompanying Bishop Ough was The Reverend Jorge Domingues, GBGM Deputy General Secretary for Mission and Evangelism, and Melissa Hinnen, UMCOR Communications Director. The delegation met with Rev. Paul to express GBGM's solidarity with the new church leadership and explore a holistic and long-term relationship.
Rev. Paul expressed gratitude to the United Methodist Church saying, "We thank you for all you have done for us in Haiti. We thank you for UMCOR's return to Haiti for the medium and long -term. . . As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord . . . we remember the journey has just begun. Thank you for all your efforts to help us when our country was devastated."
Partnering to Increase Capacity
EMH has convened a task force to outline the areas of need the church is planning to address. These include education, reconstruction, development, health, evangelism and mission, and mission education.
"There are a number of ways that the needs identified by the church fit into the mission of Global Ministries," said Bishop Ough. "UMCOR is seeking to develop a bridge between church-identified needs and the relief and development sectors in which the UMCOR field office is working." He added, "GBGM's Mission and Evangelism office is well equipped to partner with the church to build its capacity to be a beacon for Haiti."
Rev. Domingues encouraged EMH to bring a needs assessment to a round table convening April 20 in the Dominican Republic. The integrated Global Ministries delegation will include UMCOR, Mission Volunteers, Mission and Evangelism and the Women's Division as well as representatives from the Canadian Church and the British Church. "With the detailed report," said Rev. Domingues, "we will be able to reach out immediately in a coordinated and meaningful effort."
Education and Healthcare
Since the January 12 disaster, UMCOR has been responding to the needs of the people in Haiti working through strategic partnerships with the United Nations, NGOs and the Methodist Church of Haiti. The Methodist Church of Haiti has been both a partner and a doorway to partners at the community level, facilitating not only the acquisition of office space for UMCOR but, also, the identification of the most vulnerable populations and of volunteers empowered to serve them.
The delegation spent part of their visit touring the EMH offices in Pétionville. Most of the visible damage was minimal, but many of the buildings were not safe. According to Rev. Paul, education is a top priority of the church's recovery effort, but there is little money available to pay teacher salaries. Unlike most schools in Haiti, the school at the Methodist compound was back in session, but classes are being conducted outside under tarps. In preparation for the rainy season, UMCOR is procuring large tents to house classrooms.
The group also visited Grace Children's Hospital, where patients are being cared for under tents because the buildings were damaged in the earthquake. In a personal reflection, Rev. Domingues writes, "It was so humbling to see every inch of space that was minimally safe being used to continue to serve children with disabilities, AIDS, and other conditions who continue to come every day."
UMCOR Health is convening a delegation of United Methodist health care providers to visit Haiti and begin to assist facilities like Grace Children's Hospital to rebuild.
Said Bishop Ough, "The magnitude of the devastation in Haiti is unfathomable and soul-wrenching. Yet, in the midst of all that is destroyed and hopeless, I rejoice that God's loving, redemptive presence prevails. I already see signs of resurrection and triumph over death. This is due in large part to the work UMCOR is doing with our strategic partners, particularity the resilient and faithful Methodist Church of Haiti."
How to Help
Gifts to support UMCOR's Haiti relief and recovery work can be made online by visiting www.umcorhaiti.org. One hundred percent of gifts made to this advance will help the people of Haiti.
* Hinnen is the communications director for UMCOR