|United Methodists respond with prayer, aid for Haiti|
By Linda Bloom and Kathy L. Gilbert*
Jan. 12, 2010
“We are OK, the building held up, thanks for your prayers.”
After hours of uncertainty in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake
that rocked Haiti, those words from his wife, Pam, and two other members
of a mission team were an answered prayer for the Rev. Kenneth Carter
Jr. of Providence United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C.
The three volunteers were safe inside the Methodist Guest House in
the capital of Port-au-Prince Tuesday evening. The three had gone ahead
to Haiti to prepare for a larger team from the church that had planned
to leave North Carolina Wednesday morning, Jan. 13. The trip is delayed,
Many are feared dead in the earthquake, which had a preliminary
magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10 miles southwest of
Port-au-Prince. Early news reports told of a hospital collapsing and
houses falling into a ravine in the poor nation where many live in
"I think it is really a catastrophe of major proportions,” Raymond
Joseph, Haiti's ambassador to the United States, told CNN.
As news of the earthquake spread, United Methodists turned to prayer,
both for the people of Haiti and mission workers near the site of the
The Rev. Sam Dixon, top executive of the United Methodist Committee
on Relief, was in Haiti when the earthquake struck, attending a meeting
with other staff from the denomination’s Board of Global Ministries and
annual (regional) conferences.
“We’ve not been able to reach them,” said the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, an
UMCOR executive, noting that phone contact has been difficult with
However, in addition to the group from the Western North Carolina
Annual (regional) Conference, another volunteer-in-mission team from the
United States was able to get word that its members were OK. A medical
mission team from the Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference was on
LaGonave, an island off Port-au-Prince, when the quake hit. The team
evacuated the building where they were staying, but were unharmed.
“Please pray specifically for the team and its health and welfare as
they deal with the aftermath of this natural disaster. Also keep in
prayer the people of Haiti whose homes and families have been affected,”
the Dakotas Conference said in an announcement.
The United Methodist relief agency, meanwhile, was making plans to
send teams, material resources and funding to Haiti as soon as possible.
“UMCOR has always had a strong presence in Haiti,” Hazelwood said.
“With this tragedy, we’ll just be redoubling our efforts, and we’ll be
calling on people across the country to help us.”
The quake is believed to be the worst to hit the region in about 200
years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed by two
aftershocks, measuring 5.9 and 5.5 on the Richter scale.
At least 1.8 million people live in the area where the quake was most
intense, a geophysicist with the USGS told The Wall Street Journal.
President Barack Obama said he was praying for the people of Haiti
and the United States stands ready to assist them.
Living on the margin
Carter said he was unsure how soon his wife and the two other church
members would be able to leave. The North Carolina team was a group of
United Methodist Women who planned to work in the School of Mercy, a K-4
elementary school built by the church. About 200 students attend,
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“The people live so on the margin already, they had floods a year
ago, they just don’t have a lot of infrastructure. They are wonderful,
gifted people, but don’t have a lot of security in general. I know this
is very devastating and chaotic. Haiti is the poorest country in the
For the past 30 years, Providence has sponsored mission trips to
Haiti and has established clinics, food programs and a micro-credit
operation that helps 49 women find employment.
That commitment will continue, Carter said.
“Haiti is a major mission initiative for the church. Many people
sponsor a child and pay for their education each year. This is an
important part of our lives,” he said. “My wife feels volunteering and
working in Haiti is her calling, mission is her passion."
Support for relief efforts can be made to Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance # 418325.
*Bloom and Gilbert are United Methodist News Service news
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
Photos from team in Haiti
Haiti: A Brief Report
earthquake feared to have killed many
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UMCOR assists storm-ravaged people in Haiti
United Methodist respond with prayer, aid for Haiti
Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325
Providence United Methodist Church
UMCOR Field Office: Haiti
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