|Fallen colleagues remembered at Hotel Montana|
Melissa Crutchfield of UMCOR walks past the wreckage
of the Montana Hotel
on her way to a memorial service for the Revs. Sam Dixon and
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
12:15 PM EST Jan. 23, 2010 | PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (UMNS)
Walking up the curving driveway to the Hotel Montana, Melissa
Crutchfield stopped several time to pick flowers.
Crutchfield, United Methodist Committee on Relief international
disaster response director, was on her way to a memorial service for two
United Methodist executives and friends who died in the hotel after
being trapped inside during the earthquake that hit Jan. 12.
The president of the Methodist
Church of Haiti leads a memorial
service at the Hotel Montana.
The Rev. Sam Dixon, top executive of UMCOR, and the Rev. Clinton
Rabb, executive with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries,
both died from their injuries. The Jan. 22 memorial service occurred at
the same time a funeral service for Dixon was taking place in Raleigh,
N.C. Rabb is being remembered Jan. 23 in a service in Austin, Texas.
Dixon and Rabb went to Haiti to discuss projects to improve life in
the impoverished island nation. They were in the hotel when the quake
hit. Both men were trapped for several days in the rubble before
rescuers found them. The initial elation at their discovery turned to
grief when neither mission worker survived.
“This time last week, we thought they were alive,” Sharad Aggarwal,
another colleague from UMCOR, as he walked inside the hotel gates to the
The Rev. Gesner Paul, president of the Methodist Church of Haiti, and
the Rev. Marlo Despestra, also an official with the church, coordinated
the service that was attended by Crutchfield, Aggarwal and the Rev.
Edgar Avitia Legarda, an executive with the mission agency. The three
are in Haiti preparing the way for UMCOR to respond to the aftermath of
The private service began with the singing of “Amazing Grace.” While
Paul prayed, a search and rescue team was still working to recover
bodies from the rubble.
“They came to help us,” Despestra said. “It must have been a very
painful time, they must have suffered a lot. We don’t understand why or
ask God why. The God who created us is with us now.”
The small gathering said The Lord’s Prayer together.
“We commit their souls to God and his Son. We know one day we will
have the privilege of being with them in heaven,” Paul said. “The
Methodist Church in Haiti is grateful for their service.”
Crutchfield left the small bouquet of pink, white and red flowers on
*Gilbert is a news writer for the United Methodist News Service on
assignment in Haiti.
News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos from team in Haiti
the lives of Sam Dixon and Clint Rabb
UMCOR’s Sam Dixon remembered for life of service
Mission agency’s Clinton Rabb dies of earthquake-related
Haitian Methodists and UMCOR size up needs
Earthquake in Haiti: The Church Responds
United Methodist Committee on Relief
UMCOR: Haiti Emergency
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