Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update from Bishop Shannon Johnston on Haiti

Electronic Letterhead

January 21, 2010

Dear Diocesan Family,

Our hearts remain heavy this week amid the reports of mounting loss and dreadful suffering from Haiti. The Diocese of Virginia and its parishes are deeply committed to mission work in Haiti. This is true now more than ever. Our Haitian brothers and sisters need our prayers, our time, our talents, our treasure, and most especially our love. I urge you to give all of this freely.

Right now we can do three things for our brothers and sisters in Haiti:

  • Be steadfast in prayer. Every single contact we receive from Haiti asks first for prayer - and that we must do.

  • Give, and give generously, to Episcopal Relief & Development. The Rt. Rev. Jean Zaché Duracin, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, has communicated that he is working closely with ERD to help direct their efforts, and that he is pleased with their work. Bishop Duracin is working hand in hand with ERD to help direct the relief and support to where it is most needed. While the media is full of reports of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency in the relief effort, ERD is ensuring aid goes where it is most needed fairly, promptly and effectively. The efforts may not make the news, but from those on the ground, we know ERD is working well with our sister diocese in Haiti. You can make donations online.

  • Keep up with developments and needs on the ground. The Rev. Lauren Stanley, a priest of this diocese and a missionary of the Episcopal Church to Haiti, is in constant contact with those working currently in Haiti and will be serving as a clearing house of information. I urge you to keep a close eye on her blog.

The people of Haiti are in need of help and support, but volunteer relief workers in the near future will more likely be a burden than a help to those on the ground, and run the risk of hindering current humanitarian efforts. The Presiding Bishop has requested that dioceses postpone parish mission trips to Haiti until such time as we hear from the Diocese of Haiti that they are ready for us to come. Accordingly, we have postponed our young adult mission trip, originally scheduled for February 2010. I ask you also to postpone any mission trips you have planned there in the near future.

To be sure, this is only a postponement. Haiti needs us to come, and we need to go. The only question is when. I am working closely with Buck Blanchard, Lauren Stanley and the Haiti leadership team in the Diocese to determine the answer to that question.

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Haiti as they walk through this difficult time.


The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston

Bishop of Virginia

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