President Gesner Paul of the Methodist Church of Haiti and Rev. Dionne Hammond, chair of the Haiti/Florida Covenant, at the signing of a revision to the Haiti/Florida Covenant.
Methodist Christianity was planted in the new republic of Haiti in 1815 when British Captain and Methodist layman, Francis Reynolds sailed into Port-au-Prince. In 1817 President Alexandre Petion “received with joy and open hearts…” two British Methodist missionaries. The missionaries assisted the Petion government in the establishment of public education Christian education in Haiti.
At the 2006 Florida Conference Session, President Raphael Dessieu of the Methodist Church in Haiti (EMH) and Bishop Timothy Whitaker of the Florida Conference, signed the Haiti/Florida Covenant. In September, 2010, Bishop Whitaker and a Florida Covenant delegation met in Port-au-Prince with President Gesner Paul, Conference Secretary Marco DePestre and members of the Haiti Covenant Team. The Florida Covenant Team drafted a document suggesting revisions on how the two communions could work better together.
In January 24-28, a Florida delegation went Haiti to negotiate the final revisions to the Covenant. Revs. Dionne Hammond, Haiti/Florida Covenant Task Force Chair, Fawn Mikel, Covenant member, Dr. Larry Rankin, Conference Global Mission Consultant, and Rev. Craig Nelson, District Superintendent of the Southeast District negotiated the Covenant during the EMH district conference session.
During informal moments, the Florida delegation was introduced to the earthquake recovery and sustainable community development ministry sponsored by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the United Methodist Volunteer in Mission (UMVIM) in collaboration with the EMH, as a preferred partner. The earthquake recovery continues, however the effort shifts into sustainable development in keeping with Haiti’s long term improvements. Five priorities are implemented with the EMH and thirty-seven Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) including the Florida Conference: 1)Providing shelters for families, 2) Rebuilding Schools and Classrooms, 3) Increasing access to community-based health and hygiene services, 4) Improving livelihoods and household income, through micro-economic projects, and 5) Rebuilding capacity for sustainable development.
On Friday, January 27th, The Covenant was ratified by acclamation by the EMH district conference. President Gesner Paul and Rev. Dionne Hammond signed for their respective communions.
The Covenant signals a new beginning for both communions-- the establishment of “mutual relationships” between partner congregations and partner communions. Both communions recognize that in order for the partnership to work, the strategy is to establish sister relationships between Haitian and Florida congregations through prayer and communication. Florida recognizes the EMH’s high priority for training local pastors for effective ministry in their churches. Pastor’s Schools are being planned for the near future.
For in him every one of God's promises is a "Yes." For this reason it is through him that we say the "Amen," to the glory of God. But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. 2 Cor 1:20-22 (NRSV)
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