Covenant with Haiti set to be signed at annual gathering



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Covenant with Haiti set to be signed at annual gathering

May 27, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011  
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0493}

NOTE: This is one of a series of articles about news related to the “Witness With Power” 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event June 1-3 in Lakeland.

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

There’s a partnership with East Angola and a covenant with Cuba. Now, Florida United Methodists have a chance to form an equally active relationship with Haiti.

Delegates to the “Witness With Power” 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event will be asked to establish a formal link between the Methodist Church of Haiti and the Florida Conference by approving the Haiti/Florida Covenant June 2 during the morning session of the gathering.

Through the covenant leaders of both groups hope to be even greater partners in ministry, forging friendships and connections and sharing cultures, experiences and resources. If it is approved it will be signed by Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker and the Rev. Raphael Dessieu, president of the Methodist Church of Haiti, or Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti.

The Rev. Jacques Pierre, pastor of Norland United Methodist Church in Miami, helped compose the text of the covenant. He said it has been in development since 2001 when Whitaker met with a group of Haitian pastors in Miami and expressed a desire to have closer ties to the Methodist Church of Haiti. One year later Pierre was invited to serve on an exploratory task team to examine the possibility of creating a covenant, and in October 2005 he began chairing a team assigned the task of producing a covenant for presentation at this year’s annual conference.

Pierre is thrilled the dream is about to come to fruition. “I don’t even have words to describe my joy,” he said. “We all have great expectations for the relationship. It’s a good thing for the Methodist Church of Haiti, and it’s also a good thing for the Florida Annual Conference. There will be an exchange — it will not be a one-way street.”

Judith Pierre-Okerson said the relationship between the Methodist Church of Haiti and the Florida Conference is already flourishing with the establishment of the Institute of Preaching in Haiti, done in partnership with the conference, and through United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Teams serving in Haiti.

“I believe that the Haiti-Florida Covenant is a long overdue formalization of a long-standing and a fruitful relationship between the Methodist Church of Haiti and the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church,” she said.

The Rev. Montreuil F. Milord, pastor of South Dade Haitian Mission in Homestead, said he anticipates there will continue to be an equal exchange of ideas, as well as clergy and laity. He said the ties that bind the Methodist Church of Haiti and the conference will strengthen both.

“There is a very good relationship,” he said. “It will continue, and we will learn from one another. I would like for the Methodist Church of Haiti to learn from us, but also for us to learn from the Methodist Church of Haiti.”

The Rev. Luc Dessieux, pastor of Hallandale Haitian Mission in Hallandale Beach, agrees the covenant has been a long time coming. “It’s like a dream come true,” he said. “I’m so delighted and happy.”

Dessieux anticipates the covenant fostering a better understanding among United Methodists in the conference about the plight of Haitians, specifically when it comes to immigration issues.

“We have a moral obligation to voice our concern,” he said. “Immigration is about embracing all human life.”

Pierre said a church isn’t a church without addressing social justice issues, adding, “We are called to be advocates by Christ.”

The entire conference event will be web cast live through the Internet for those who are not able to attend. Individuals who would like to log onto the webcast at any time during the annual gathering may do so by going to the Florida Conference Web site at http://www.flumc.org and following the instructions listed there. Details about the gathering are also posted on the site and accessible by clicking on the event graphic posted on the right-hand side of the home page.
 
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This article relates to Global Mission and “Witness With Power” 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.




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