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Earthquake Disaster in Haiti

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to give $500,000 for seeds of hope in Haiti   [4-19-10]

Seeds and tools will help Haitian farmers feed the country and build the economy

Press release from PC(USA), dated April 19, 2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It is rainy season in Haiti. While that sometimes creates terrible challenges for those whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake, it is also good news. The rainy season is the growing season. And for thousands of farmers, it is both an opportunity for economic recovery and a chance for them to play an important role in their country’s healing process.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is partnering with the Presbyterian Hunger Program to provide funds and staff support for seeds of hope for Haiti. PDA has committed $500,000 to purchase seeds and tools for farmers who are trying to feed the hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians who have left Port-au-Prince, as well as the communities that are hosting the displaced.

The rest of the story >>

PDA’s Haiti response tops $500,000

Presbyterians contributing to earthquake response in many ways

Presbyterian News Service reports:   With the transfer of an additional $101,500 to ecumenical partners in Haiti, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has now contributed more than a half-million dollars to immediate emergency relief in the island nation following the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands.

The full story >>

For Haiti, A Modest Proposal

by George Hunsinger and Michael Kinnamon

Dr. Hunsinger is the Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Kinnamon is the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.

News release from the National Council of Churches

A headline ricocheted around the Internet this week, requiring no further comments. It read simply:

"GDP of Haiti: $8.5 billion. Goldman Sachs bonus pool: $20 billion."

Even before the recent earthquake alerted us to Haiti’s misery, Goldman Sachs was uncomfortable about the attention its bonus system was attracting. Last September Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, acknowledged that "Compensation continues to generate controversy and anger." "In many respects," he added, "much of it is understandable and appropriate." The New York Times reported (October 12, 2009) that Goldman Sachs has considered improving its image by making a sizable charitable donation.

Now Haiti's disaster, on the front of every newspaper, has given Goldman Sachs an unequalled opportunity. A simple act of generosity could bring it front-page publicity, one that would do much to allay the controversy on everyone's lips. By donating just half of their bonuses to Haitian relief, they will outmatch the Haitian GDP, and improve not only their image but their tax liability. Church World Service, an efficient and experienced relief organization, for example, administering the Goldman Sachs billions, could ensure that reconstruction is not just a return to pre-earthquake squalor, but an enduring monument to the bankers' unprecedented liberality. In this simple way Goldman Sachs alone would surpass the $100 million that President Obama has pledged to Haiti, by a monumental factor of 100.

What the Haitians obviously need most is massive humanitarian relief. They need food, water, medical supplies. They need shelter and physical reconstruction. Over the longer term they need renewed and expanded educational facilities; and not least, indigenous control over their offshore oil and other mineral riches.

In Haiti 300,000 are feared dead, and 1.5 million are homeless. The death toll continues to climb. A major fuel shortage is looming, while people unreached in the countryside fare even worse than those in the cities. Over half of Haiti's population are children, 15 years old or younger. Many were already hungry and homeless before the earthquake hit.

Relief for Haiti needs to come in the form of grants, not loans. The last thing this stricken nation needs is more debt. According to a report from The Center for International Policy, "Haiti spent $57.4 million to service its debt [in 2003], while total foreign assistance for education, health care and other services was a mere $39.21 million." Haiti needs outright grant money to rebuild its public sector. It needs the opportunity to stand on own two feet so that its hard-pressed citizens can receive basic public services.

One last point. Humanitarian aid must be directed particularly to women, children and the elderly. As MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, has observed: "Women are the poorest of the poor and often have no safety net, leaving them most exposed to violence, homelessness and hunger in the wake of disasters." Despite their disproportionate need for assistance, women "are often overlooked in large-scale aid operations."

The crisis facing Haiti today goes beyond anything yet thought or imagined. "I think it is going to be worse than anyone still understands," says Richard Dubin, vice president of Haiti shipping lines. Without a major upgrade in the global response, future generations may look back with horror. Ten billion dollars could make an inestimable difference. So could eight billion—half of the recently scaled-down bonus figure. A golden opportunity is knocking for Goldman Sachs.

Help Haiti – drop the debt
This call to action comes from "Avaaz"

“Avaaz” means “Voice” in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages. is a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want. Across the world, most people want stronger protections for the environment, greater respect for human rights, and concerted efforts to end poverty, corruption and war. Yet globalization faces a huge democratic deficit as international decisions are shaped by political elites and unaccountable corporations -- not the views and values of the world’s people.

To learn more about the Avaaz on-line advocacy group, click here >>


Shocking: Even as aid flows in to Haiti's desperate communities, money flows out to pay off the country's crushing debt of over $1 billion racked up years ago by lenders and governments.

The call for full cancellation of Haiti's debt is building steam across the world and has won over some leaders while rich lender countries are rumored to resist. Time is short: G7 finance ministers could reach a final decision next week at their summit in Canada.

Let's raise a massive global call for justice, mercy and common sense for the people of Haiti in this hour of tragedy. Avaaz and partners will deliver the call for debt relief directly to the summit. Click here to sign the petition and pass this email to friends.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the world's poorest countries. After Haitian slaves rose up and won their independence in 1804, France demanded billions in reparations, launching a spiral of poverty and unjust debt lasting two centuries.

In recent years, the tremendous worldwide campaign for debt relief has awakened the world's conscience. In the last few days, under mounting public pressure, lenders have begun to say the right things about erasing Haiti's devastating debt burden.

The devil in the details? After the 2004 tsunami, the IMF announced relief from debt payments for stricken countries; the underlying debt went right on growing. Once public attention faded, the debt payments were bigger than ever.

The time to cancel Haiti's debt fully and without conditions and ensure that disaster aid is made with grants and not loans is now. A victory now will change lives in Haiti even after the world's attention has moved on. Join the call for debt relief and pass this message to those who feel the same.

Thanks to Ralph Garlin Clingan

CWS campaign: ‘Tithe Wall Street bonuses for Haiti’

‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’ humanitarian agency says

by Jerry L. Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service, and Lesley Crosson, Church World Service

NEW YORK — January 27, 2010 — Global humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS) today launched a novel fund-raising campaign for Haiti earthquake relief: calling for Wall Street’s financial industry leaders to tithe their bonuses for the reconstruction of Haiti following the disaster that killed more than 100,000 people and destroyed much of Port au Prince and the country’s fragile infrastructure.

According to CWS’ Lesley Crosson, “People are already joining the ‘Bonus4Haiti’ tithing call to Wall Street now, signing on to CWS's Facebook Cause page, tweeting the campaign to others, and raising the shoutout volume virally through the Internet, with the message, ‘Tell corporate CEOs that to whom much is given, much is expected. Please tithe your bonuses to Haiti!’”

“As a relief and development agency that has worked in Haiti beginning in 1954, Church World Service has seen the dire challenges, strife and unremitting, abject poverty that the people of Haiti have experienced for generation after generation,” said CWS executive director and CEO the Rev. John L. McCullough.

The full story >>  

Haitian hospital approved for $200,000 from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance    [1-25-10]

News release from General Assembly Mission Council, PC (USA)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — January 22, 2010 – Hôspital Sainte Croix (Holy Cross Hospital) and an affiliated nursing school in Léogâne, Haiti, have been approved to receive a $200,000 grant from Louisville-based Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA).

The grant request was sent to PDA by email on Friday, Jan. 22, and the much-needed funds were approved within two hours. The hospital and nursing school are ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti and have been a major focus of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission in Haiti. Léogâne is near the epicenter of the Jan. 12 earthquake and both facilities sustained serious damage.

“We’ve been told by our Episcopal partners in Haiti that despite the damage, the nursing school began operating as a makeshift hospital within a half-hour of the quake,” said Randy Ackley, PDA coordinator. “In addition, nursing students have established 10 first-aid stations around the main part of Léogâne. The people on the ground are working hard to help one another and this grant is one way we can support their live-saving efforts.”

News media have reported that 80 to 90 percent of the buildings in the main part of Léogâne were destroyed. The PDA grant will support electrical power and distribution needs, water and sanitation facilities, fuel for generators and vehicles, and salaries for local staff involved in the cleanup.

PDA is accepting donations online; by phone at (800) 872-3283; and by mail: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. To date, more than $1.2 million has been donated to PDA for relief and recovery efforts in Haiti.

PDA is a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),  which is comprised of 2.2 million members in more than 10,000 congregations, answering Christ’s call to mission and ministry throughout the United States and the world.

New evangelical group calls for Haiti debt cancellation    [1-25-10]

A newly formed group of evangelicals led by some well-known figures called for the cancellation of Haiti’s foreign debt on Friday.

Headed by the Rev. Richard Cizik, former vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good says Christians are called to have a “spirit of compassion for the grieving, the injured and the displaced, and to take action to alleviate their suffering.”

For the full story >>

Stop slandering the people of Haiti

Witherspoon member Tom F. Driver, who has spent decades focusing on the issues of justice for Haitians, has sent this note to a wide list of friends, inviting them to join in signing an open letter to New York Times columnist David Brooks. Driver is the Paul Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Tom Driver writes:

Dear friends of Haiti:

The United States has given Haiti a lot of misguided aid in the past. What it has never given is respect. This must change.

Three days after the earthquake, columnist David Brooks published in The New York Times a slanderous article about Haiti.  Even if he meant well, he spent 7 paragraphs spreading one of the oldest and most damaging myths about Haiti that have circulated ever since the Haitians freed themselves from French slavery in 1804. He blamed Haiti´s poverty on its religion and culture. He said that what Haiti needs now is "intrusive paternalism." That kind of thinking is the greatest danger now hanging over Haiti's future.

I have joined with my friend Carl Lindskoog, a scholar studying Haitian-American communities, to compose an Open Letter to David Brooks that explains how his views are so misguided and injurious. The letter is attached to this message. It has already been signed by more than 200 people, including Brian Concannon, Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor at MIT.

To read the full text of the open letter >>

To add your name online, click here to sign open letter to David Brooks.

To read blog messages about the letter, click here. The blog is sponsored by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

If you have a website, please post our open letter there [or just link to it here!].

Please circulate this message widely.

Tom F. Driver
The Paul Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary in New York


An Open Letter to David Brooks on Haiti

[posted here 1-19-10]

Dear Mr. Brooks,

In your January 15, 2010 opinion piece in The New York Times, “The Underlying Tragedy,” you present what you seem to believe is a bold assessment of the situation in Haiti and what you certainly know is a provocative recommendation for Haiti’s future. You also offer some advice to President Obama. In order to successfully keep his promise to the people of Haiti that they “will not be forsaken” nor “forgotten” the President, you say, has to “acknowledge a few difficult truths.” What follows, however, is so shockingly ignorant of Haitian history and culture and so saturated with the language and ideology of cultural imperialism that no valuable “truths” remain. Please allow us, therefore, to present you with some more accurate truths.

First, Haiti is not a clear-cut case of the failure of international aid to achieve poverty reduction. For almost its entire existence Haiti has been shouldered with a load of immense international debt. The Haitian people had the audacity to break their chains and declare independence in 1804 but were later forced by France to re-purchase their freedom for 150 million Francs, a burden that the country has had to carry throughout the twentieth century.

What’s more, the “aid” Haiti has received from its powerful neighbor to the North has never been the sort that would help the country reduce poverty or achieve meaningful development. In the early-twentieth century the principle “aid” Haiti received from the United States came in the form of a brutal military occupation that lasted from 1915 to 1934. After “Papa Doc” Duvalier ascended to power “aid” meant assistance to a ruthless (but conveniently anti-communist) dictator. The U.S. gave Duvalier $40.4 million in his first four years in power, briefly suspended military and economic assistance to the dictator in 1963, but resumed shortly thereafter, restoring full military and economic aid to Duvalier by 1969. In the early 1970s and 1980s when “Baby Doc” Duvalier was at the helm, the “aid” the United States and other international agencies contributed failed to reduce poverty but did enrich foreign investors in the newly constructed assembly industry. Economic policies that the U.S. forced upon Haiti decimated its agriculture for the benefit of American farming while driving Haiti’s peasants into Port-au-Prince and other cities where they found few jobs and scarce housing. Four years after Baby Doc’s departure the Haitian people decided to help themselves by democratically electing a new leader, but the United States aided Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s domestic opponents in the coup of 1991 and did so again in 2004. It is no wonder then that that such “aid” from the United States has failed to lift Haiti out of poverty.

Equally unconvincing is your argument about “progress-resistant cultural influences,” which brings us to important truth number two: Haitian culture is not “progress-resistant” as anyone familiar with the examples you yourself provide can attest to. If Vodou or “the voodoo religion” as you put it, “spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile,” how do the majority of Haitians manage to survive on scant resources and less than two dollars-a-day? How do so many Haitians manage to travel abroad, find and maintain difficult jobs, and send money back home if not through careful planning and a fierce defense of precious life? How do the nationwide customers of Fonkoze, the Haitian banking operation that teaches literacy and business practices to curbside marketers to whom it makes small loans, achieve such strong records of loan repayment? In fact, it might be Haitian culture itself (and even Vodou) which allows Haitians to persist. After all, the Vodou spirit Ogou (St. Jacques) is honored as a clever planner and master of skills. So was the champion of Haiti’s war of independence, General Toussaint L’Ouverture, a onetime slave who entered history as a military and diplomatic genius.

The third important truth we have to offer (and we hope President Obama is listening as well) is the opposite of your call for “intrusive paternalism” as the solution to Haiti’s woes: Haiti does not need nor does it want the paternalism of the United States. Haiti is literally dying of cultural imperialism.

Whenever America’s leaders and pundits speak of subordinate peoples, the ideology of imperialism shines through. As it does in your words, Mr. Brooks, so it has done for far too many earlier Americans. President William McKinley, for example, facing the difficult question of how he was to govern the newly-conquered Filipinos worried that

left “to themselves they are unfit for self-government-and they would soon have anarchy and misrule . . . [So] there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them.”  

Closer to home, those who worried about an earlier form of “progress-resistant cultural influences” decided it was better to remove the children of Native American families than to let them absorb the backwardness of their pagan and uncivilized parents and community. A common refrain by these “reformers” was “kill the Indian, save the man.” And now, Mr. Brooks, you propose to save the Haitians from themselves by replacing Haitian cultural values and institutions with “middle-class assumptions, an achievement ethos and tough, measurable demands.” Imperialism, whether economic or military, is the primary reason for the conditions that so worsened the impact of the earthquake on January 12. Haitians need less imperialism, not more.

During the Vietnam War an American officer famously stated that “it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.” Today Haiti is virtually destroyed. The earthquake having done the hard part, Mr. Brooks, you think “intrusive paternalism” will save it. Lacking a foundational understanding of Haitian history and culture, and bearing the familiar colors of American imperialism you and your ilk will do vastly more harm than good.

Tom F. Driver
Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus of Theology and Culture
Union Theological Seminary

Carl Lindskoog
Doctoral Candidate, Dept. of History
The Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

If you're working with Haitians living in the U.S., or with U.S. citizens seeking to adopt Haitian children, this may be helpful


Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to Haitian immigrants already in the United States

From Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (dated 1-17-10):

A PDA-Rapid Information Network communication was recently sent to advocate for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians allowing them to remain in the United States for at least 18 months as part of a comprehensive response to the current humanitarian crisis.

This action has been granted. The U.S. Government has announced Friday that it will allow an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally to stay and work in the country for 18 months as part of its response to Tuesday's earthquake.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the decision to grant Temporary Protected Status to illegal immigrants from Haiti who were living in the United States as of January 12 was a gesture of compassion and an attempt to ensure that the flow of remittances and economic support to their devastated homeland continues.

"This is a disaster of historic proportions," Napolitano said in a 5 p.m. conference call, "Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be ended by returning to Haiti as part of this administration continue effort to support Haiti's recovery."

TPS (Temporary Protected Status) Registration Process for Haitians

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 10011577 (posted Jan. 15, 2010)"

Jonathan Nelson, an elder of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City, has shared this statement, from the American Immigration Lawyers Association website, with the Presbyterians for Just Immigration Network, on 1-18-10:

In a telephonic briefing on 1/15/10, USCIS Director Mayorkas indicated that the registration process for TPS for Haitian nationals will begin upon publication in the Federal Register. The agency’s goal is to have it published next week.

The registration period will run for 180 days, and TPS eligibility will be for 18 months. Fees will be required for the I-821, the biometrics, and the I-765 if a work authorization is desired and the I-131 if advance parole (travel permission) is sought. Applicants may apply for fee waivers. Community organizations participating in the briefing emphasized the need for generosity in fee waivers.

As proof of nationality, USCIS is looking primarily for a passport (an expired one is acceptable) or birth certificates. Community organizations participating in the briefing noted the problems with obtaining this documentation in the best of circumstances, and USCIS indicated that secondary evidence would be considered. The organizations emphasized the need to be generous in allowing such documentation.

On the subject of orphans, USCIS noted that, if adopting parents were in the Haiti at the time of the earthquake, they may go to the U.S. embassy to complete the adoption process, and the government of Haiti will waive the exit visa requirement. DHS and DOS are still working on the issues related to adoptions by parents not in Haiti. They urge parents not to travel to Haiti at this time.

More about Pat Robertson on Haiti's "pact to the devil"

A devil’s-eye view of Pat Robertson on Haiti

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune published the following “letter to the editor,” which was apparently submitted on behalf of Satan by a "ghost writer" named Lily Coyle.

Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth – glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox – that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it – I'm just saying: Not how I roll. You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings – just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best, Satan


from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance  [posted here 1-14-10]

On January 12, a powerful earthquake hit approximately ten miles from the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. An earthquake of this magnitude would be devastating to any city, but in one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere its effects are catastrophic. Millions of people have been affected by this disaster and tens of thousands—possibly hundreds of thousands—are feared dead. With many of the established sources of safety and security demolished—churches, schools, hospitals and government buildings—survivors are searching for signs of hope and help. 

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is responding through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). PDA is rushing an initial $100,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing and designated funds to provide immediate emergency relief to the affected people. Funds are being sent through our ecumenical and local partners working in Haiti.

Presbyterian World Mission is gathering information on the safety and status of our mission personnel and ecumenical partners in the area. For updates on the earthquake and the church’s response, please visit the PDA Web site. Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR000064.

Gifts can also be made by phone at (800) 872-3283, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST), and checks can be mailed to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

What you can do

As God’s people, we are called to stand in the “GAP”— GIVE, ACT, PRAY.

Give – Financial support for relief efforts can be made online and designated to DR000064. Your gifts, combined with those of others, provide a visible and tangible demonstration of God’s care in the midst of this tragedy. Recovery will be a difficult and long process, but Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has time and time again modeled a faithful response over the long haul.

Act – Congregations and individuals can put together hygiene kits and baby kits to be distributed through Church World Service. For information, visit the PDA Web site.

Pray – Join with others in lifting up the people of Haiti and those seeking to provide aid in this critical time. As the eyes of the world turn to Haiti, let us join our hearts in prayer.

PC(USA) missionaries, mission groups in Haiti reported safe

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responding to earthquake tragedy

Presbyterian News Service reports:

Two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionaries in Haiti and mission teams from three PC(USA) congregations that were in the country when the devastating earthquake struck Tuesday (Jan. 12) have been accounted for.

The Haitian Red Cross estimated today (Jan. 14) that between 45,000 and 50,000 died in the late-afternoon 7.3-magnitude temblor that struck near the Haitian capital of Port au Prince. Much of the country, particularly areas around Port au Prince are totally destroyed.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has dispatched $100,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing offering funds and issued a special appeal to support ongoing relief efforts. The crisis response team of Presbyterian World Mission is meeting at the Presbyterian Center here virtually around-the-clock.     More >>

Haiti's "pact with the devil" myth

How Pat Robertson turned a country's origin myth into a cheap invocation of Satanism

We posted a note yesterday about evangelist Rev. Pat Robertson’s latest astonishing statement, in saying that Haiti’s terrible suffering has come upon them because they long ago made a pact with the devil. Someone sent us a commenting: “Will Pat Robertson live forever to spread his hate-filled notions??????”

Thomas Rogers, an associate editor at Salon, has interviewed a professor of history and anthropology at UCLA about Haiti's voodoo traditions, and concludes that “this is hate speech.”

He begins:

One of the most callous reactions to the Haiti disaster thus far has come from televangelist Pat Robertson, who told viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday morning that he knew the real reason for the quake: The country's long-standing pact with Satan. ...

But is it a true story? We spoke with Andrew Apter, professor of history and anthropology at UCLA, about Haiti's voodoo traditions, the ignorance behind the evangelical community's distortions and the real cause of suffering in the third-world country.

Is there any truth to what Pat Robertson is saying?

Of course not! Haitians are Christians. Pat Robertson's language is the reductio ad absurdum of the Christian right. It's so absurd it's almost funny. This notion of a pact with the devil is basically an echo of an old colonial response to the successes of the 1790s Haitian revolution.

What is this pact he's talking about?   More >>

We pray for Haiti

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As the eyes of the world turn to Haiti, let us join our hearts in prayer:
God of compassion
Please watch over the people of Haiti,
And weave out of these terrible  happenings
wonders of goodness and grace.
Surround those who have been affected by tragedy
With a sense of your present love,
And hold them in faith.
Though they are lost in grief,
May they find you and be comforted;
Guide us as a church
To find ways of providing assistance
that heals wounds and provides hope
Help us to remember that when one of your children suffer
We all suffer
Through Jesus Christ who was dead, but lives
and rules this world with you. Amen.
(Adapted from Book of Common Worship)

— Bruce Reyes-Chow, Gradye Parsons and Linda Valentine

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is responding to this earthquake through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and its partners. Presbyterian World Mission is gathering information on the safety and status of our mission personnel and ecumenical partners in the area. For updates on the earthquake and the church’s response, please continue to visit PDA. Initial reports indicate a large number of casualties and widespread damage especially in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

You, too, can be part of God’s answer to prayer for those affected by this disaster. Information on the situation and prayers and worship resources will soon be available. Funds from One Great Hour of Sharing are already helping with the initial response. You can give to the ongoing relief through PDA account number DR000064.

Some other ways to respond to the crisis in Haiti

CREDO Action suggests two good possibilities:

Give to Doctors Without Borders / Medicins Sans Frontieres.

Doctors Without Borders — a group CREDO members support with their phone bills — operates one of the only free trauma centers in Port-au-Prince as well as an  emergency hospital in the capital for  pregnant women, new mothers, and newborn children. All three of its primary medical centers have collapsed, but DWB/MSF has already set up temporary shelters and is offering emergency care on the ground. For more info on their work in Haiti click here. To make a donation click here.

Tell Obama: Grant temporary protected status to Haitians living in the U.S

President Obama must order his Department of Homeland Security to immediately halt all forcible deportations to the disaster zone and grant temporary protected status to undocumented Haitian refugees in the U.S. To refuse to do so would be irresponsible and immoral.  To take action, click here.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation also encourages contacting the President and your people in Congress to support Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in the U.S.

In Haiti, There is Anguish

In response to the disaster in Haiti, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written a hymn, which she has shared with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and has kindly shared with us as well.  She offers it freely for use by anyone, or any church, which supports PDA.

ST. CHRISTOPHER (“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”)

In Haiti, there is anguish that seems too much to bear;
A land so used to sorrow now knows even more despair.
From city streets, the cries of grief rise up to hills above;
In all the sorrow, pain and death, where are you, God of love?

A woman sifts through rubble, a man has lost his home,
A hungry, orphaned toddler sobs, for she is now alone.
Where are you, Lord, when thousands die—the rich, the poorest poor?
Were you the very first to cry for all that is no more?

O God, you love your children; you hear each lifted prayer!
May all who suffer in that land know you are present there.
In moments of compassion shown, in simple acts of grace,
May those in pain find healing balm, and know your love’s embrace.

Where are you in the anguish? Lord, may we hear anew
That anywhere your world cries out, you’re there-- and suffering, too.
And may we see, in others’ pain, the cross we’re called to bear;
Send out your church in Jesus’ name to pray, to serve, to share.

Tune: Frederick Charles Maker, 1881
Text: Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Permission is given for use by those who support Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.


Carolyn visited Haiti on a mission trip when she was a Lebanon Valley College student. Other hymns by Carolyn that might be helpful for churches responding to this disaster that are posted on the PDA web site include Who is My Neighbor, a hymn inspired by the parable of the Good Samaritan, and God We've Known Such Grief and Anger,

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of
Songs of Grace:  New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books, 2009) and Gifts of Love:  New Hymns for Today’s Worship (Geneva Press, 2000) and the co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware.


For more news reports from Haiti:

TruthOut is providing a "live blog" on the Haiti earthquake, carrying news from a variety of sources.     [1-14-10]

For a (really really) different view of the Haiti disaster:

Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson says Haiti made a pact with the devil

US evangelical preacher Pat Robertson levied blame Wednesday for the devastating earthquake in Haiti on Haitians themselves, saying that the country "swore a pact to the devil" at its creation. "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," Robertson said on his Christian Broadcasting Network show "The 700 Club."   More >>

Well, it takes all kinds.  But some are pretty hard to fathom.

Some blogs worth visiting


PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


Plan now for our 2010 Ghost Ranch Seminar!


July 26-August 1, 2010



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