In the days since the Haitian earthquake, the Daily Scan, which the Cafe´ receives courtesy of Neva Rae Fox, the Episcopal Church's program officer for public affairs, has been full of stories of the ways in which Episcopal Relief & Development, dioceses, congregations and individuals have been reaching out to the people of Haiti, where the death toll has now reached 111,000.
Some of these feature the Rev. Lauren Stanley, an Episcopal missionary to Haiti who happened to be home taking classes for her doctorate of ministry when the quake struck. Here, she gives a moving interview with an Allegheny Mountain radio station in Hot Springs, Va.
What has been striking about the coverage is that in many instances it has shone a light on longstanding relationships that had not previously received much attention. That was the case in an item we ran earlier today about St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Washington, D. C. And it seems to be the case all around the country.
In Sag Harbor, NY :
Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor helped fund a school in Chermaitre, in the northwest mountains of Haiti. Working with Vassar Haiti Project, the local church raised $30,000 in the summer of 2008 with a two-day sale of Haitian art. The funds were used to build a new classroom. According to parishioner Carol Spencer, the school felt a ripple of the earthquake. It wasn’t damaged, though. The tragedy is extremely personal for Christ Episcopal Church’s minister Father Shawn Williams. He noted the Long Island Episcopal Diocese has shared a strong connection with Haiti for the past 50 years. Father Williams attended seminary with a man from Haiti and one of his best friend’s family lives in the country.
“When you put faces on [the earthquake], the situation takes on a whole different urgency,” noted Father Williams.
Several local churches have had a longtime concern for Haiti and have sent mission groups there. One that recently returned from Haiti is from Christ Episcopal Church.
Sunday, that group, which returned from Haiti only days before the earthquake, will share its experiences.
Since 1997, Christ Church has supported a mission in Haiti by funding salaries of health care workers and nutritionists, as well as providing food and medicine, sponsoring students and supporting water programs.
"We have been told that the well we dug and the water purification system is still in operation and providing water to people who are in desperate need of water," said Ken Chumbley, rector of the church.
"I saw God working miracles in Haiti during my week there with our mission team -- miracles in the people, miracles in me," said Chumbley. "And now Haiti needs another, a greater miracle, following the earthquake."
Sometimes, reading the papers, you get the impression that the church exists to provide a forum for arguing about sexual mores. Then disaster strikes, and you get a glimpse of what the church has been up to all along.