By Jerry Eller
From Friday evening April 24, until noon Sunday, April 26, the Second Haitian Peace Seminar was held at l’Eglise des Freres Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla. During the three-day conference 100 attendees registered. Of these registrants 22 were youth. Registrants represented five Haitian churches in Florida and a Church of the Brethren in Haiti.
A generous grant of $1,500 from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service made this event possible. Sponsoring the event was the Atlantic Southeast District Action for Peace Team.
The sessions and presenters at this year’s seminar were:
— Update on Haiti presented by Jeff Boshart and Pastor Yves
— Biblical Basis for Peacemaking and Peace Witnessing presented by Alexandre Gonçalves
— The Nature of Conflicts and Resolutions presented by Jerry Eller
— The On Earth Peace Conflict Resolution Program presented by Alexandre Gonçalves
— Issues Facing Haitian Families (Language and Assimilation, a panel discussion
— Youth Roundup presented by Alexandre Gonçalves
— Haitian Youth Dance Group, performed as a preview to their participation at Annual Conference
— Importance of Peacemaking and Service in the Life of the Congregation, a panel discussion
— Devotions Saturday Morning presented by Wayne Sutton, and Devotions Sunday Morning presented by Founa Augustin
The conference organizers were Rose Cadette and Jerry Eller. Translation leaders were Founa Augustin, Jonathan Cadette, Rose Cadette, and Jeff Boshart. The On Earth Peace representative was Alexandre Gonçalves, a master of divinity student from Brazil currently attending Bethany Theological Seminary. Mrs. St. Fleur organized the procurement of food, supervised the many Haitian women who prepared the meals, and was in charge of serving the meals.
Panel participants were Founa Augustin, Jonathan Cadette, C. Gasen (a youth leader), Brittany Cadette and other youth. Jeff Boshart, a member of the Global Mission and Service staff, provided invaluable overall leadership during the seminar as a workshop leader, panel facilitator, and translator. Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur lent all of his talents to make the seminar happen and be the meaningful event it was.
An unplanned reunion occurred with Jonathan Cadette, Jerry Eller, and Jeff Boshart. These three persons went to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, as part of a medical disaster relief team.
The Creole translation of the Church of the Brethren 1970 statement on war was found by Wayne Sutton and copies were distributed at the seminar.
The Church of the Brethren Haitian community in the United States is growing and changing. It is struggling to keep its culture and language intact even as it changes to become more Americanized. Haitian youth are at the forefront of these changes. They are a dynamic population and appear eager to embrace the Church of the Brethren values and principles. The Church of the Brethren has a unique opportunity to minister to these youth as they begin to emerge as the leaders of tomorrow. They could become strong leaders in the church if they are nurtured and given opportunities.
This seminar highlighted peace as a Christian way of life and peacemaking as a way to handle and resolve conflicts, from an individual to a global perspective. Several seminar participants summed up what they experienced: “We need this message. Please come back.”
— Jerry Eller prepared this report on behalf of the Atlantic Southeast District Action for Peace Team.