Episcopal Diocese’s relief efforts predate temblor

Posted Jan. 11, 2011, at 10:36 p.m.

American churches have done a great deal to bring relief to Haiti since the earthquake last year. The Episcopal Church has been especially active, and the Episcopal Diocese of Maine has a record of aid that began before the quake.

The Diocese of Haiti is the largest Episcopal diocese in the world, so outreach programs are a natural part of the church’s mission, said Heidi Shott, spokeswoman of the Episcopal Diocese in Portland. Of Maine’s 65 Episcopal congregations, 14 have ongoing relationships with individual churches and schools in Haiti, many dating back several years.

In an effort to meet the United Nations millennium development goal of eliminating extreme worldwide poverty by 2015, Shott said, the Episcopal Diocese of Maine has raised approximately $14,000 in the last few years. The diocese has donated seven-tenths of 1 percent of its income toward the goals since 2003.

Since the earthquake, the Episcopal Relief & Development program, to which many Maine Episcopalians have made personal donations, has directed funds toward emergency housing, employment, transportation, road and water system repair, and providing family and public latrines. Individuals have received approximately 300 tons of food, health clinics have served more than 25,000 people and distributed cholera prevention kits and counseling, she said.

In addition, individual congregations in Maine with established connections to Haitian organizations support schools, health centers and salaries for teachers and priests.

St. Aidan’s in Machias, for example, sends regular donations to the School of the Good Samaritan, just outside Port-au-Prince, while St. John’s in Portland helps fund Maison de Naissance, a birthing center.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maine will hold a meeting of the Haiti-Maine Committee at 10 a.m. Jan. 28 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bangor to outline progress and goals for work in that nation.

To find out how to help, contact Karin Draper of the Diocese’s Haiti-Maine Companion Diocese Committee at haitimainechair@ymail.com.

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