Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meetings are held on Haiti mission.

Future planning is well underway for the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti, which has grown to three churches and six preaching points, with an estimated attendance of 500-600 people. The Haiti Mission Advisory Committee met for six hours at l’Eglise des Freres (Church of the Brethren) in Miami, Fla., on April 12 to develop broad-based, long-range recommendations for ongoing ministry. In a follow-up teleconference meeting April 21, committee members worked with General Board staff to begin implementing the new plans.

The context for the intense visioning is the Haiti mission reaching the five-year mark. Merle Crouse, chair of the meeting, said, "We are seeing amazing progress in reaching new people and developing leadership. We believe that the mission in Haiti has a great start. The next five-year phase is beginning, and will require a lot of wisdom, discipline and strategic resourcing to move the new Haitian church forward in a healthy way."

The advisory committee includes Ludovic St. Fleur, pastor, and Mary Ridores of l’Eglise des Freres; Jeff Boshart, former Dominican Republic economic development staff; Jonathan Cadette and Wayne Sutton of First Church of the Brethren in Miami; Merle Crouse, former mission worker and retired General Board staff member; and R. Jan Thompson, the General Board’s interim executive director of Global Mission Partnerships.

Recommendations from the April 12 meeting addressed both the immediate food crisis in Haiti and the need for a long-range agriculture program. The committee continues to see the need to purchase land; ownership of property and the establishment of social service programs are necessary for a denomination to be granted full legal status by the Haitian government. Other agenda items involved recommending to the General Board the licensing to ministry of nine congregational leaders. The group also requested financial assistance for a Leadership Training Seminar in Haiti for 2008, after a successful event last year.

In the April 21 conference call, committee members met with general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Thompson to begin implementing the recommendations. Progress was made on the following issues:

The current food crisis in Haiti. Ecumenical partners will be contacted for shared responses to the crisis, if possible through Haitian Church of the Brethren congregations. People in Haiti are dying of hunger, St. Fleur said. "As a church, we are interested not only in eternal life for our people, but also how they are living right now," he told the committee.

2008 Leadership Training Seminar. Financial undergirding will be provided by the General Board for a second Leadership Training Seminar to be held in August in Haiti. After an initial successful event last year, with 61 participants and 42 completing the course, even more registrants are expected this year. The planners will invite resource people from other denominational overseas programs to be part of the team of instructors.

Licensing of congregational leaders. General Board staff will determine processes and procedures to interview candidates for licensing to ministry at the Leadership Training Seminar, anticipating that they will be presented for approval to the new Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board in October.

Purchase of property. St. Fleur was charged with the task of further fact-finding on a property in the capital city of Port au Prince.

The next meeting of the Haiti Mission Advisory Committee is planned for Nov. 22.

--Janis Pyle is coordinator for mission connections for Global Mission Partnerships.

Source: 4/24/2008 Newsline Extra

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