Haiti Connections in the California-Nevada Annual Conference

January 14, 2010

A pastor in the California-Nevada Annual Conference today is experiencing relief that family members in Haiti are safe, while grieving the widespread loss of life and devastation in her homeland.

The Rev. Myrna Bernadel-Huey, pastor of First UMC in San Leandro, California, in the Bay View District, has aunts, uncles, and cousins in Haiti. She has been able to communicate with her family and all are safe, she reports. Although for some hours after the earthquake an uncle and a cousin were unaccounted for, this afternoon Bernadel-Huey received word that they had been located unharmed.
"I appreciate your prayers for Haiti, all her people, and our world that can respond, to lend the aid that's needed to help with this herculean relief effort, as well as the rebuilding that must follow," she says. "I pray we will open our hearts and respond to this calamity with an un-weary, Christ-like spirit.
"I am so grateful for the global response of compassion thus far, [and] praying it will continue … but in all things, God is our sure and certain strength," she states. As for personal support of relief efforts, Bernadel-Huey says it makes sense, to her, to donate to organizations that are already 'on the ground' in Haiti, such as the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
"No words can describe the complexity of how things work in Haiti. Therefore, if an organization has already been at work in Haiti, they'll be the most experienced and, most likely, more effective than anyone 'new' to the scene," she says.
And she notes that 100 percent of UMCOR donations go directly to providing relief; not one penny of giving to an Advance number is spent on administrative costs.
Novato UMC rents space to two Haitian congregations (7th Day Adventist and Southern Baptist) and Novato UMC pastor, the Rev. Rebecca Irelan, reports that "a couple of Haitians attend our worship services."
"Many of these local folks will have lost family members," she says, adding, "We will buy flowers for their services and send some prayer shawls. If any other church has a prayer shawl ministry and would like to send shawls to us, we will get them distributed to the members of these two congregations."