A visit to Haiti

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

A visit to Haiti

March 2, 2007    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
tparham@flumc.org     Orlando {0632}

NOTE: A headshot of Whitaker is available at http://www.flumc.info/photo_gallery2.shtml.

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

Last year the Florida Conference approved a covenant with The Methodist Church of Haiti, a district of The Methodist Churches of the Caribbean and the Americas, which is a product of The British Methodist Church.
In January the Rev. Montreuil Milord, Icel Rodriguez (assistant director of the conference’s Global Mission and Justice Ministries office), Jeannie Jacques (a staff member in the conference’s Congregational Transformation and New Church Development offices) and I were guests at the 2007 annual conference of The Methodist Church of Haiti. We participated in the sessions, visited mission sites and met with the clergy to discuss our covenant.

During the Florida Conference team's visit to Haiti early this year, team members had many opportunities to interact with and get to know the people of Haiti, like this boy, wearing the T-shirt of a summer day camp program in Boca Raton, Fla. Photo by Icel Rodriguez. Photo #07-0532.

In the coming months the committee overseeing the covenant for our conference under the leadership of Rev. Milord will identify specific opportunities for strengthening our covenant and being involved in a mission in Haiti. Plans will be made in consultation with a similar committee in Haiti. Individuals and congregations in Florida will be invited to participate as they are led by the Spirit of God.

My visit to Haiti left some definite impressions on me. Haiti is a beautiful country of mountain vistas and water views, with its own unique species of trees and plants. Nevertheless, de-forestation is a problem, and The Methodist Church of Haiti is involved in efforts to restore the land.

There are some beautiful buildings in Haiti that represent the Haitians’ interest in constructing buildings that are strong and aesthetically appealing, with a French influence. Some portions of the capitol city and other towns are marred by litter, indicating a government not yet able to completely manage affairs, but other areas are clean and well-kept. Security remains a deep concern of citizens, but there is still a strong social bond in the communities. These security concerns are another indication of the need for better government.

There is much poverty in the country, and the churches play a role in helping meet the needs for self-sufficiency, education and health care.

The people of Haiti are handsome and gracious. One cannot help but believe that, despite a past of political turmoil, the country could have a good future. I met several Americans who live part-time in Haiti and consider it a second home, enjoying its beauty and wonderful people.
The people of Haiti and The Methodist Church of Haiti should be in our prayers. May the Spirit guide us into a closer relationship with them in ways that will be a blessing to both of us.


This article relates to Missions.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Conference.

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