THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

March 31, 2010 09:01 ET

Moderator to Travel to Haiti for Easter Season Pastoral Visit

Attention: Assignment Editor, News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, NEWS RELEASE--(Marketwire - March 31, 2010) -

On Tuesday, April 6, 2010, the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, Mardi Tindal, will travel to Haiti leading a five-person United Church delegation on what is described as a pastoral visit.

"After horrific death it can take a very long time before we can really hear Jesus' words, "Do not let your hearts be troubled"-but it takes less time when we accompany one another," says Tindal.

She explains that the United Church's partners in Haiti are engaged in relief and reconstruction despite the trauma of losing family members, homes, and offices. "They have asked us to accompany them-pastorally and personally-and so, like good neighbours in time of crisis, we are going to be with them," she says.

The United Church's partners in Haiti are the Methodist Church of Haiti and the Karl Lévêque Cultural Institute (ICKL). The United Church also works through the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance, and advocacy.

According to the United Nations, more than 222,517 people were killed and 300,000 injured in the earthquake. More than one million people are living in makeshift settlements. The situation is staggering, devastating, and unprecedented.

"Under the circumstances, it is impossible to have satisfactory conversations from a distance. Communication remains extremely difficult and limited," comments Tindal. "Being with our partners is the best way to truly see and hear what we need to understand of their immediate and long-term needs. We will learn more about the love and challenge of Christ, together."

Jim Hodgson is the United Church's regional program coordinator for partnerships in the Caribbean, Central America, and Colombia. He is in Haiti now preparing for the delegation's arrival and working with partners and the ACT Alliance.

Hodgson says that it will take years to work through this horrific tragedy, to respond with compassion, and to learn about the conditions that make the people of Haiti so vulnerable in the face of such disaster.

"Troubling stories of suffering and death in Haiti have been with us for many years, but the earthquake of January 12 has focused our attention on the staggering new need for immediate relief and long-term restoration," says Hodgson. "Haitians will need our ongoing help for a long time."

Since the devastating earthquake on January 12, United Church members have contributed over $2.7 million for relief and restoration efforts.

Hodgson explains that the cost of the delegation's visit to Haiti is covered from existing budgets made possible through regular donations to the church's Mission and Service Fund. None of the monies given to the United Church's Haiti Appeal are being used to finance the trip.

Tindal wrote in an Easter message to United Church congregations that she was honoured to represent them in this pastoral visit. She adds as she prepares to leave for Haiti, "I am humbled by the opportunity to serve our church in this way. When I return I look forward to sharing what the people I meet in Haiti say about how we can be with them through this most difficult time. And I will bring them assurance of our continued commitment to stand with them as they rebuild their lives."

The delegation's visit to Haiti will continue until April 13, although the Moderator will be returning to Canada on April 10.
/For further information: Mary-Frances Denis
Program Coordinator, Media and Public Relations
The United Church of Canada
Office:416-231-7680 ext. 2016
Cell: 416-400-7273
mdenis@united-church.ca
/ IN: INTERNATIONAL, RELIGION

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Program Coordinator, Media and Public Relations, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Secondary Phone: 416-400-7273
    Toll-Free: 800-268-3781
    E-mail: mdenis@united-church.ca