Haiti Hurricane Response Is Underway

A comprehensive Brethren response to the hurricanes that swept over Haiti last fall is underway, reports Brethren Disaster Ministries. Through a grant of $100,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), Brethren Disaster Ministries is developing new initiatives that promise to help relieve suffering and improve the lives of many Haitians.

“Prior to the storms, Haiti already was the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Since the hurricanes, 10 percent of the population in the impacted area has been forced to beg for a living,” said Brethren Disaster Ministries coordinator Jane Yount in a report today.

Aspects of the multi-faceted response include:

  • Micro-loan programs: loans in the amount of $200 for purchasing livestock or starting a small business. Disbursement of funds is targeted to begin in the next month.
  • Home repair and rebuilding in the Mirebalais area: building materials will be purchased starting in mid-February. Mirebalais is in a mountainous area north of Port au Prince. Several Brethren preaching points are south of Mirebalais in remote communities accessible only by foot or mule. Most homes in these areas are damaged, but not destroyed. Twenty homes have been selected for repair in the village of Fon Cheval, in a model plan that will serve as a guide for projects in other villages. As the home rebuilding projects are developed, Brethren Disaster Ministries hopes to create opportunities for volunteer groups from the US to take part.
  • School-based feeding programs: the process of sending meals to schools in the Gonaíves area is now underway. Klebert Exceus, a Haitian consultant, is working with Brethren Disaster Ministries on this effort. He has shared that “Christians in these areas are praying that God will bless and support these projects.”
  • Medical material aid: following assessments of a Haitian hospital and clinic, a shipment of medical supplies from IMA World Health (a partner at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.) is anticipated in late winter.
  • Capacity building and leadership support: $3,000 is being provided to two Haitian Brethren church leaders who are assisting with the response. Fre Romy Telfort in Gonaíves will help with home repairs and improvements. Pastor Delouis St. Louis in the Port au Prince area lost his home to flooding and land is being rented and supplies purchased for him to build a simple home. He preaches in both the Porte au Prince and Mirebalais areas.
  • Canned meat: Mid-Atlantic District and Southern Pennsylvania District are making canned chicken available for the Haiti response. The canning project will be completed in April with shipping costs around $7,500.

Leaders of the project include Jeff Boshart, a former mission worker in Haiti who has been named Haiti Disaster Response coordinator; Klebert Exceus, who is serving as a Haitian consultant; and Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Under the leadership of Ludovic St. Fleur, Haiti Mission coordinator and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla., and the Church of the Brethren’s Haiti Advisory Committee, there are now five active Church of the Brethren congregations in Haiti. The mission effort also includes 10 more preaching points. In March 2009, 10 Haitian ministers will be interviewed to become licensed pastors in the Church of the Brethren.

“Part of what we are doing in Haiti is to try and respond in a different way,” Winter said. “Many organizations around the world have tried lots of approaches to help Haiti develop only to have progress nullified in a matter of years. So we are trying very hard to facilitate local leadership and encourage local churches working together. Jeff Boshart has shared that ‘churches working together to address community wide needs is very rare in Haiti.’”

Gonaíves is the most heavily devastated area in Haiti, with many of the damaged or destroyed homes in flood plains or mudslide areas, Winter reported. There is an active Brethren preaching point in the area. “We are partnering with and bringing local Brethren into a pastors group called Service Et De Liaison Des Eglises Evangeliques Gonaiviennes,” Winter said.

“The result is that in the short run working this way may slow some of the disaster response,” he added, “but in the long run we are building capacity for Haitians to respond to their own needs.”

The response from the Church of the Brethren to date has included the $100,000 EDF grant as well as $10,000 from the EDF that provided immediate relief efforts following the hurricanes through a partnership with Church World Service and the Christian Center for Integrated Development (CCID), a $15,000 grant from the Global Food Crisis Fund for agricultural recovery and development through the CCID, and a $5,000 EDF grant that funded a Brethren assessment team.

To support the Church of the Brethren’s Haiti Hurricane Response, donations may be sent to the Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact cobnews@brethren.org to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.


“A bell, a baby and a baptism–Polar Sea revives a nautical tradition,” Seattle (Wash.) Post Intelligencer (Feb. 7, 2009). Dressed in white and with a bow wrapped around her head, 3-month-old Genevieve Carr and her parents have followed a US naval tradition dating back hundreds of years in which consecrations or baptisms are conducted with a ship’s bell. Rev. Jeffrey Barker from Columbia Lakewood Community Church in Seward Park conducted the blessing on the Coast Guard cutter Polar Sea. The family attends Columbia Lakewood Community Church, which is part of the Church of the Brethren. For the full story see http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/399244_baby08.html

Obituary: Orphea Pearl Mummert, Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan (Feb. 8, 2009). Orphea Pearl Mummert, 95, of Fort Collins, Colo., passed away on Feb. 4. She was involved with Northern Colorado Church of the Brethren in Windsor, Colo., and also for many years was an active member of Peak Community Church in Fort Collins, where she taught Sunday school. She was a teacher for 41 years, teaching in Idaho, Indiana, and Colorado, and retiring in 1987. She married Harold Mummert in 1946. For the full obituary go to http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20090208/OBITUARIES/902080335

“Yeager elected senior pastor,” Chambersburg (Pa.) Public Opinion (Feb. 7, 2009). Harold E. Yeager has been unanimously elected to serve as senior pastor of Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. An ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, Yeager was installed as senior pastor during a service on Feb. 1. He has been a moderator of the Southern Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren, served on the Standing Committee of the Church of the Brethren, and serves as trustee emeritus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. For the story, go to http://www.publicopiniononline.com/ci_11649901

Obituary: Larry L. Mundt, Post Bulletin, Rochester, Minn. (Feb. 6, 2009). Larry L. Mundt, 60, died on Feb. 5 at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis. In 1971, he married Lynn Ellinghuysen. The couple made their home south of Utica, where they farmed their entire marriage. He was a member of Lewiston (Minn.) Church of the Brethren. For the full obituary go to http://www.postbulletin.com/newsmanager/templates/localnews_story.asp?z=5&a=384004

Obituary: Ethel L. Frazier, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (Feb. 6, 2009). Ethel Louise Frazier, 91, died on Feb. 5 at Augusta Medical Center. She was a member of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren in Crimora, Va. She had worked with DuPont during the 1940s. In 1941, she married Clifton Edward Frazier, who preceded her in death in 2000. For the full obituary go to http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090206/OBITUARIES/902060339

Obituary: Gertrude Virginia Webster Burton, Marion (Ohio) Star (Feb. 5, 2009). Gertrude Virginia Webster Burton, 90, died on Feb. 4 at the Kingston Residence in Marion, Ohio. She was formerly a member of First Church of the Brethren in Marion, and enjoyed attending her son’s worship services at Hope Evangelical Free Church in Caledonia. She worked as a registered nurse in Columbus and at the Marion General Hospital, and then in private care nursing for over 20 years. She was married to Robert Burton in 1940, he preceded her in death in 2001. For the full obituary see http://www.marionstar.com/article/20090205/OBITUARIES/902050324

“Lilly Endowment Awards Grants to Help Pastors Address Financial Challenges,” Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis, Ind. In a press release from the Lilly Endowment, the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Indiana District is named as one of 16 regional church bodies in Indiana to receive grants to help support pastors. The district received a grant of $335,000. Read the release at http://www.lillyendowment.org/pdf/Economic%20Challenges.pdf

“Faiths back nonviolent action against gun violence in US,” Ekklesia, the United Kingdom. A religious peace gathering in Philadelphia, USA, last month included daily acts of opposition to gun violence held at a gun store in the city. The actions included non-violent protest, prayer and civil disobedience. A dozen people were arrested over a series of afternoons. Read the full report at http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/8516

Obituary: Kathryn Galbreath, Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune. Kathryn Galbreath, 81, of Baltic, Ohio, died on Feb. 2 at her residence. She was a homemaker and a member of Baltic Church of the Brethren. Her life was her children and husband. She is survived by her husband, Raymond J. “Pete” Galbreath, whom she married in 1955. For the full obituary, see http://www.coshoctontribune.com/article/20090203/OBITUARIES/902030318

“Retired teacher has time, so he gives it,” Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News. James Martin learned the value of helping others from his grandparents and his father, who was a minister for the Church of the Brethren in Lebanon County, Pa. Martin, who lives at Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, became an English teacher and taught thousands of students over the years. He started volunteering at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center after his wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer. Read the full story at http://www.ldnews.com/news/ci_11609849

“Minister is ready for a new mission,” Herald Tribune, Sarasota, Fla. Pastor Janice Shull’s odyssey began in Aug. 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged her dream house in New Orleans and God steered her family toward another life, leading her to Venice (Fla.) Community Church of the Brethren. “To feel that I have been called to serve the people here in Venice, and to serve the Lord is such a joyous thing for me,” Shull told the newspaper. Read more at http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090131/ARTICLE/901310318/2058/NEWS?title=”Minister_is_ready__for_a_new_mission  

“No football, but still ‘Souper,’” Herald-Mail, Hagerstown, Md. Brownsville (Md.) Church of the Brethren is highlighted in an article about the 20th anniversary of the Souper Bowl of Caring. At the Brownsville Church, the youth have participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring for the past five years. “We collected $200 for the South County Food Bank last year, and we hope to increase that amount for this year,” said Carrie Jennings, one of the organizers. Find the article at http://www.herald-mail.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=215699&format=html

“Argos Swap Shop helps clothe the needy,” WNDU-TV, South Bend, Ind. It’s been said “nothing in life is free” but that’s not the case at one store in Argos, Ind. The store is called the Argos Swap Shop sponsored by the Walnut Church of the Brethren CHAFIA. People can bring in their donations and swap them for other items in the store. The store also believes that if you can’t donate, don’t worry. They want to help out those in need during tough times. Find the report at http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/38651517.html

Obituary: Dorothy J. Puffenbarger, News Leader, Staunton, Va. Dorothy Jean “Nellie” Puffenbarger, 78, of Bridgewater, Va., died on Feb. 1 at her daughter’s residence in Avon Park, Fla. She was a member of Sangerville Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater. She was born Nov. 12, 1930, in Briery Branch, a daughter of the late Bryan and Artie (Huffman) Rexrode. Her husband, C. Leon Puffenbarger, preceded her in death in 1989. For the full obituary go to http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090202/OBITUARIES/902020321

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