ELCA NEWS SERVICE
January 13, 2010
Presiding Bishop Details ELCA Response to Haiti Earthquake
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is responding to the earthquake in Haiti through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), wrote the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, in a Jan. 13 letter to members. Hanson, who is also president of the LWF, noted that the ELCA has committed substantial funds to support relief efforts, and encouraged members to share information and provide financial gifts.
The Jan. 12 earthquake caused considerable structural damage around the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and may have killed "more than a hundred thousand people," Hanson wrote, quoting Haitian officials. Relief agencies' immediate concerns were for the safety of survivors, plus needs for water, sanitation and communication.
In a brief interview, Hanson told the ELCA News Service that "this is a time for the ELCA to come together as we have so often done in our history." He said the church has the capacity to respond to human tragedy, and "members are called to bear witness to our faith by responding generously and working with partners" to provide relief.
The presiding bishop asked members to contribute financial gifts to the church's relief efforts. Members can provide gifts online at http://www.ELCA.org/haitiearthquake or call 800-638-3522.
In his written message, Hanson noted that the ELCA already is responding through the LWF's Haiti Program. "Given the devastation caused by this earthquake, the ELCA has committed an initial $250,000 from ELCA International Disaster Response for Haiti and has authorized an additional $500,000 as congregations respond both to the immediate needs and long-term rebuilding efforts," he wrote.
Hanson reported that LWF staff in Haiti escaped injury. The LWF is a global communion of 140 member churches in 79 countries, representing over 68.9 million Christians.
"We also give thanks that we have trusted and effective partners on the ground in Haiti who already are at work helping earthquake survivors," he wrote. "The ELCA is the largest regular supporter of the LWF's program in Haiti, which helps communities escape the deep poverty in which so many Haitians live. Since staff is already in place, no precious time will be lost in shaping an effective response. The work of providing food and shelter and in helping people to rebuild their lives is under way."
The ELCA is thankful for partners in the relief effort. Hanson wrote that the LWF staff in Haiti is coordinating the responses of Protestant and Orthodox churches throughout the world through Action by Churches Together (ACT). The ACT Alliance is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working together in disaster response and development. The ELCA is member of the alliance.
The ELCA churchwide organization is also coordinating with the efforts of the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod, which is working to provide disaster support "to and possibly through the emerging Lutheran church in Haiti," he wrote.
Details of the ELCA's response and resources for congregations are posted at http://www.ELCA.org/disaster on the ELCA Web site. He asked members to share information about "the urgent need in one of the United States' closest neighbors and the effective means by which their church is responding."
The full text of ELCA Presiding Bishop Hanson's message is at http://www.ELCA.org/bishopstatement on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org