|Worshippers remember Haiti in prayer, song, gifts|
At Wellspring UMC, Tampa, Fla., members and guests lit candles for
victims and survivors. A UMNS photo by Derek Maul.
A UMNS Report
By Barbara Dunlap-Berg*
Jan. 18, 2010
They remembered. They prayed. They sang. And they gave.
Highland Park United Methodist Church volunteers
pose for a photo before
the earthquake struck Haiti. A UMNS photo
courtesy of Highland Park
United ethodist Church.
Across the United Methodist connection, worshippers responded
to the suffering people of Haiti with words and songs of hope, as well
as donations of money and supplies.
In the nation’s capital, United Methodists reflected on faith
and responsibility. In Raleigh, N.C., they packed health kits for
survivors of the massive earthquake. In Sharonville, Ohio, they welcomed
a mission team home. In Dallas, they pledged to return to Haiti,
despite the loss of one of their volunteers there.
And thousands of miles away, United Methodists in Vienna joined
in “heartfelt prayers.”
Washington Area Bishop John Schol encouraged worshippers at
Foundry United Methodist Church to overcome their sadness, fears and
doubts by relying on God’s steadfast mercy and by connecting with the
people of Haiti through prayers and active support for relief efforts.
“When the earth shakes, it’s not unusual for us to be sad and
afraid,” Schol said. “You can just imagine the fear of people (in Haiti)
and of friends and families here who worry for their loved ones. But it
is by acting on behalf of others that we can overcome our sadness and
Pray without ceasing
In East Lansing, Mich., the Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai led her
congregation at University United Methodist Church in prayer and song.
“Prayer,” said Bigham-Tsai, “brings us together in community.
It provides a sense of healing.”
Joining in the prayer service were Haiti natives Luckner and
Judith Sanon and their two children.
“No matter what happened,” Luckner Sanon said, “we need to
pray. We need God.”
At Wellspring United Methodist Church, Tampa, Fla., director of
student ministries Tyler Hettich invited the congregation to a time of
open prayer. “Just speak the names of people you know out loud,” he
said. “There’s nothing we can do other than pray.
“I’ve been to Haiti twice,” he added. “I have friends there. My
heart goes out. I feel helpless. Prayer is what I can do now.”
The Rev. Craig Hammond, Wellspring senior pastor, and his wife,
the Rev. Dionne Hammond, associate pastor at East Lake United Methodist
Church in Palm Harbor, led the vigil. The two congregations have an
active partnership with Zamar Ministries in Haiti. They sent a combined
team to the country in November 2009.
“Because we were just there, we are feeling very overwhelmed
about the situation,” Dionne said.
Craig read from Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, an
ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the
Earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
Washington Area Bishop John Schol encourages prayer
service attendees to rely on God’s mercy. A UMNS photo by John Coleman.
“What can I do? I’m just one person,” Craig said. “But we are
to literally become the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.”
At Soapstone United Methodist Church, Raleigh, N.C., the youth
packed health kits and gathered for a simple meal, donating receipts to
“We took a special offering during worship,” said member Sylvia
Hewitt. “Normally we share a snack supper that is a usual teen-friendly
menu, but last night we had red beans and rice, lettuce and water, a
meal that Haitians might eat. We talked about seeing God's abundant love
in the situation.”
Volunteers vow to return
Prayers of gratitude joined prayers of supplication at
Sharonville (Ohio) United Methodist Church, which had an 11-member
mission team working on an orphanage when the quake struck. Applause and
hugs greeted the volunteers, now home safely.
“We were able to swoop up a couple girls apiece and get them
out,” trip leader Barbara Sailor recalled. “Without the extra help, the
girls either would have been crushed outside or they would not have
gotten out of the building because there just wasn’t enough help there.”
A veranda where the orphans usually play collapsed. The team is
anxious to get back to help. The congregation has a long history of
sending mission teams to Haiti, and that work will continue, she said.
That ongoing commitment also was evident at Highland Park
United Methodist Church, Dallas, which lost one member of its volunteer
team. Jean Arnwine had a heart attack on the plane on the way home from
Haiti. But the pastor's message was that despite the tragedy, the church
must keep trying to help the Haitian people.
The team “made a good point that Jean would have wanted to get
right back on the next plane there,” said church member Brook Deklavs.
Erin Campbell, director of youth ministry at St. John United
Methodist Church, Santa Fe, N.M., coordinated a prayer vigil.
“We shared liturgies adapted from the Book of Uncommon Prayer. We had
six prayer stations” symbolizing faith, supplies, volunteers, victims,
rebuilding and hope, and letters to God.
United Methodists beyond the United States also joined their
Haitian sisters and brothers in prayer.
Jerry Barton said the English-speaking United
Methodist Church in Vienna, Austria, offered prayers for colleagues and
“We have a few staff of the various United Nations
organizations in our congregation, people who travel to regions like
this regularly,” he said.” We didn't lose anyone in this tragedy,
but we feel the loss within the UN family.”
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar urged the clergy and laity of the
Greater New Jersey Annual (regional) Conference to “join me . . . in
prayer, wherever you are, on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at noon. Let us pray
together for the comfort, grace, healing and continued work of relief
for and with the people of Haiti. Additionally, I prayerfully request
you continue to support the United Methodist Committee on Relief with
your prayers and your monetary gifts.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist
Communications, Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615)
742-5489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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