Haitian Church of the Brethren Holds Its First Annual Conference

Photo by courtesy of Global Mission and Service
A delegate to the first Annual Conference of Eglise des Freres Haitiens looks over the church’s new constitution.

The first official Annual Conference of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) was held from Aug. 12-14 in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, at the Brethren Ministry Center campus. Approximately 60 delegates represented more than 20 churches and preaching points.

On Monday the 12th, each delegate received a copy of the constitution of Eglise des Freres. This constitution was put together by a committee of Haitian Brethren leaders, led by pastor Freny Elie of Cape Haitian, along with the participation of US field staff Ilexene Alphonse. The document combined articles found in the constitution of Iglesia de los Hermanos in the Dominican Republic and the constitution of Miami Haitian Church of the Brethren.

During worship that night, the message was delivered by Onleys Rivas, a pastor in the Dominican Republic and president of the Junta of Iglesia de los Hermanos. The theme of his message was “Discerning the Winds of God.” His main text came from Acts 2:1-4 and he preached on the unifying presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.

On Tuesday, Aug. 13, after a time of reflection and questions, the delegates were asked to vote on each of the 50 plus articles in the constitution. The document was accepted, with a few amendments, by a unanimous vote. The message on Tuesday night was brought by Ariel Rosario, also a pastor in the Dominican Republic and moderator of Iglesia de los Hermanos, using the story of Jairus’ daughter found in Mark 5:21-43 to encourage the delegates to follow the example of Jairus when confronting difficult situations in life.

On Wednesday, delegates from each of the represented worshiping bodies presented reports of membership, offerings, and other statistics to the larger assembly. Also on Wednesday, an election was held for the position of moderator-elect in which Samson Dieufait, pastor of the New Jerusalem Fellowship in Canaan (just outside of Port-au-Prince) was elected. Yves Jean has served as moderator of the National Committee of Eglise des Freres for the past five years and will be the presiding moderator for the 2014 Annual Conference.

Photo by courtesy of Global Mission and Service
Pastors are dedicated with laying on of hands and prayer, at the first Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren in Haiti.

The conference concluded with a special ordination ceremony for six pastors: Duverlus Altenor, Georges Cadet, Freny Elie, Diepanou St. Brave, Jean Bily Telfort, and Romy Telfort. These leaders are serving as pastors and have participated in the annual week-long theological training held in Haiti beginning in 2007. Elie was ordained in another denomination and his ordination was accepted via transfer. Volunteer mission coordinator Ludovic St. Fleur, pastor of Eglise des Freres in Miami, Fla., joined Jean and Alphonse in the laying on of hands for these newly ordained church leaders.

St. Fleur shared a teaching message on what it means to be “called” in the Brethren tradition. A choir of more than 30 members from the Marin congregation sang at the closing service. A special reception for the newly ordained pastors and all the delegates, complete with a cake frosted with the symbol of the Church of the Brethren, followed the service.

–Jeff Boshart and Jay Wittmeyer contributed to this report.

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