We’re going to take a brief hiatus from the General Convention resolutions this week and move to a resolution adopted by the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church during their meeting in October. Let’s begin with a little background:
As you may recall, on January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti killing more than 300,000, seriously injuring over 250,000 and leaving 1.3 million people homeless. Numerous public and private buildings were destroyed in Port-au-Prince including Holy Trinity Cathedral and the adjacent elementary, secondary, professional and music schools as well as St. Marguerite Convent – all buildings of the episcopal Diocese of Haiti. Especially devastating in the damage to the Cathedral was the loss of eleven priceless murals depicting Bible stories with people of African descent as the characters. The murals had been painted by renowned Haitian artists who were commissioned during the celebration of the bicentennial of Port-au-Prince. Of the original fourteen, only three murals remain. These three were carefully removed from the walls through a collaboration by the Smithsonian and the Getty Conservation Institute and have been placed in appropriate storage until a new cathedral can be built.
Besides being home to these incredible works of art, the Cathedral was a symbol of faith for the Haitian people. According to the Rev. John Runkle, Cathedral Conservator at Washington National Cathedral from 2005 – 2010, rebuilding the Cathedral “… will represent the Church’s ongoing commitment to serve the peoples’ needs—a beacon of hope to all who suffer and a place of refuge in times of trouble.”
The Executive Council passed the following resolution:
WM 017 In support of the Haiti Recovery Effort
Resolved, That the Executive Council reaffirms its February 2010 challenge to the Episcopal Church (TEC) to raise ten million dollars for the Diocese of Haiti recovery effort; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council reaffirms its commitment to the authority of Bishop Duracin and the leadership of the Diocese to “direct the resources required to rebuild the damaged institutions and impacted congregations of the diocese;” and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council directs FFM to consider including some funding itemized as a line in the current budget to the Holy Trinity Cathedral Rebuilding Project (HTCRP); and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council urges PB&F to address funding of the HTCRP in the next triennial budget; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council challenges every grant-making or funding organization a part of the Episcopal Church (e.g. foundations, church wide organizations ((e.g. UTO among many)), congregations, dioceses, provinces, etc.) to prioritize this project and make funds available to the HTCRP; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council invites our Anglican and ecumenical partners to financially join with us in the HTCRP; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council challenges all partner relationships with Haiti to tithe a portion of their current financial assistance to the HTCRP; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council calls for a special offering on Sunday, January 12, 2014, the anniversary of the earthquake, in every congregation of TEC for the HTCRP; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council commends the work of the Development Office of TEC in the HTCRP; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council calls on the whole church to keep the people of Haiti and this recovery effort in our continuing prayers.
As you can see, many of these resolves are meant for particular agencies within the church but there are some that impact all of us:
- By setting aside a day of prayer on January 12, 2014 specifically for the rebuilding effort.
- That our on-going prayers would include the people of Haiti and this recovery effort.
- That we join in the fund-raising work of The Episcopal Church for this project.
As part of the Household of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, we have a special connection to this work in Haiti of which you may not be aware. The mission work in Haiti began in 1861, when the Rev James Theodore Holly arrived in Haiti from the United States. Rev. Holly grew up in the Roman Catholic Church where he began his study for the priesthood. After a dispute arose over the ordination of black priests, Holly left the Catholic church and was received into the Episcopal Church in Detroit, accepted quickly as a candidate for Holy Orders. In June 1855, Holly was ordained a deacon by Bishop McCoskry, in St. Paul’s Church, Detroit. Two weeks later, he left for New York with a letter for the bishop recommending him as a missionary to Haiti.
There are many fine links to more about Bishop Holly and the Mission to Haiti, as well as the current rebuilding project available on-line; I have included a few for further reading:
As is so true for many of our blogs, this is just the beginning! I’d love to hear from you as you decide how you and your congregation will help. We can learn from one another! Let us join together to support this important effort for our Haitian brothers and sisters!!
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution review Committee, Diocesan Council