Brethren Congregations Across the US Take Part in the Haiti Relief Effort

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren collected and assembled 300-plus hygiene kits for Haiti after church on Sunday. Sunday school classes helped assemble the kits, which will be sent to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for processing and shipping to Haiti, where they will be distributed by Church World Service to quake survivors. Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Updated Jan. 28, 2010

Church of the Brethren congregations and members across the United States are getting involved with the Haiti earthquake relief effort–from assembling and donating hygiene kits, baby care kits, or school kits to help quake survivors, to holding special collections to help support relief work in Haiti, to simply praying for Haiti in their Sunday morning worship service.

Following are tidbits of news about people of faith who are doing something to help:

Church of the Brethren members Dr. Julian Choe and Mark Zimmerman have received donations of more than $3,000 from their congregation–Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren–to support a trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic to provide medical care. They originally booked their flight to the DR a month ago, anticipating helping out with a Brethren-related mission to bring medical aid and assistance to impoverished sugar cane plantation workers. When the earthquake hit, they altered their plans. Accompanied by “Frederick News-Post” reporter Ron Cassie, Choe and Zimmerman flew to the DR on Friday with three suitcases–150 pounds–of medical supplies and equipment for a weeklong effort to help earthquake victims. They were met in the DR by Dominican Brethren pastor Onelis Rivas, who is traveling with them to Haiti. Cassie’s reports from the trip are being posted online by the Frederick newspaper: “Local men fly south to aid Haitians” (Jan. 23), go to ; “Local aid workers have history of giving” (Jan. 23), telling Dr. Choe’s personal story, go to  for a reprint in ; and “Facing the unimaginable: Hospital struggles to serve young earthquake victims” (Jan. 24), reporting on the group’s gut-wrenching visit to a hospital in the DR where Haiti earthquake survivors are receiving treatment, go to . For the latest report from the group’s work in Port-au-Prince, “Searching in vain: Bodies remain on Port-au-Prince streets; food and water not reaching those in need,” see .

Seniors at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio, have been assembling emergency hygiene kits for the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti. The effort was part of the Southern Ohio District of the Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries. For a video of the work of assembling the kits, from WHIO TV Channel 7 in Dayton, Ohio, go to

Students at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College have been encouraged by their student newspaper to do something for Haiti. The article, “Haiti earthquakes propel students in charitable efforts,” by the Etownian, reports that students are collecting donations toward the Church of the Brethren’s relief effort in Haiti and are making hygiene kits. The article also warns not to be taken in by scam collections for Haiti. Find it at .

Three congregations in western Pennsylvania worked together to collect materials and cash for hygiene supplies to be sent to Haiti. Marilyn Lerch, pastor of Bedford Church of the Brethren, invited youth and youth advisors from the Everett and Snake Spring Valley congregations to join her congregation’s youth group. Materials and cash donations were collected at the Bedford WalMart. Shoppers were given a list of supplies that could be used to make hygiene kits and school kits. The kits are designed by Church World Service and warehoused and distributed by the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for shipment to Haiti as part of the relief effort. Shoppers were given a list and invited to purchase the various items. Donations received by the group included supplies for 175 hygiene kits and 85 school kits, along with cash to help pay the costs of shipping them to Haiti, a total value of approximately $3,000. The three congregations are continuing to collect supplies to make more kits, and plan to deliver them to the Brethren Service Center tomorrow, Jan. 26. (Contributed by Frank Ramirez.)

Virlina District is inviting its congregations and members to designate an offering for the Haiti Earthquake Disaster Response effort of the Church of the Brethren (send to Virlina District Resource Center, 330 Hershberger Road, NW, Roanoke, VA 24012; memo: HAITI EARTHQUAKE – ACCOUNT #33507). The district newsletter also announced 10 collection points over the next month for donations of Gift of the Heart Kits, coinciding with previously scheduled meetings of the District Board, the Ethics Training Seminars, area Ministers Meetings and others events. “The District Executives will be transferring Church World Service kits to the District Resource Center as they travel around the district,” the newsletter announced. “We will arrange transportation to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.”

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., assembled more than 300 hygiene kits after morning worship yesterday, Jan. 24. Sunday school classes helped out as part of their morning activities, following a children’s story in worship that centered on Haiti and the Haitian Brethren.

Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren conducted a special “blanket offering” to provide blankets to those living on the streets in Haiti. The church also has been asking for donations to assembled into kits. A notice in the Lancaster newspaper invited the public to help put the kits together.

The Church of the Brethren in Staunton, Va., is asking for help from the community to assemble hygiene kits, through an announcement on the website of WHSV Channel 3 TV and other outlets. As of Jan. 20, the church had gathered 13 hygiene kits, and counting!

Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind., is by providing a water filtration system for Haiti, donating it to the Brethren Disaster Ministries relief effort. Reports the “South Bend Tribune”: “Followers of Faith and Outreach Missions Teams, both part of Creekside’s outreach efforts, wanted to do something long-term for Haiti…. They decided a water filtration system would be a great way to give a lasting gift of clean and safe water. Each team donated a third of the cost of the system and challenged the congregation to donate the remainder.”

The University of La Verne hosted a benefit concert at La Verne Church of the Brethren to raise money for those affected by the earthquake. “I think our campus is known for getting involved in service activities,” said Debbie Roberts, a ULV campus minister who helped coordinate the concert, in an interview by the “San Gabriel Valley Tribune.” “I think we jump right in when there’s an emergency.” Following his performance, Shawn Kirchner, of the Shawn Kirchner Quartet, urged audience members to contribute to the humanitarian effort and shared what he posted on Facebook the day following the catastrophic quake: “Imagine wealth flowing as freely as water to the places of greatest need. Collectively we have a nearly infinite capacity to help/heal/restore/transform any situation. What could Haiti look like five years from now if we unleashed our generosity? Let’s find out.” The money generated from the benefit will be donated to the Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministry, Doctors Without Borders, the American Red Cross, Partners in Health, Haitian Ministries, and Hope for Haiti.

Look for more about Brethren responding to the quake, in future online news pages at this site.

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  to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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