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Church of God Greatly Impacted by Haiti Quake
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Church of God Greatly Impacted by Haiti Quake

Posted on Sun, Jan 17, 2010

Church of God Haitian overseer Elysee Joseph and three from a Canadian delegation have died as a result of the devastating earthquake which took place in Haiti on January 12.

By Cameron Fisher, Church of God Communications

According to Rev. Douglas LeRoy, Church of God general director of World Missions, the death of Haitian overseer Joseph occurred when a 20-foot wall collapsed on the vehicle in which Joseph was a passenger. Joseph was returning from the Port-au-Prince airport with former Haitian missionary Lloyd Frazier and former General Director of World Missions Lovell Cary and his wife, Ginny. The group had just arrived in the country and were on their way to a hotel in anticipation of the Haitian National Convention which would have been held this week. Frazier and Lovell Cary were bruised, while Ginny Cary was hurt when a portion of the wall fell on their car. Her injuries are not life-threatening and as of Friday morning, the three had been transported to the neighboring country of Dominican Republic by the U.S. Coast Guard where Mrs. Cary was receiving treatment and arrangements were being made to return the group back to the United States.

Dr. Joseph was a leading pastor and had served the church as national overseer on two occasions. He is survived by his wife and children.

Other groups associated with the Church of God were also in the country when the quake hit. Among them was a delegation from Canada and Southern New England, and a short-term missions team from Potter’s House in Columbus, Ohio. According to Rev. Jacques Houle, administrative bishop for the Church of God in Quebec/Maritimes, three from the Canadian group have died. Traveling with that group was administrative bishop of Southern New England Jonathan Ramsey and Boston area pastor Othon Noel. Ramsey and Noel, as well as the Ohio group are safe, but remain in the country awaiting transportation back to North America. Details on how the three from the delegation were killed is still unclear.

“As you can imagine, communications with these and others in the country is very limited and sometimes third party,” LeRoy stated. “Anything beyond this information, including exactly how and when those not living in Haiti will be returned is unknown. We (World Missions) are diligently pursuing transportation options at this time.”

Since 1933, the Church of God has had a presence in Haiti. Jacques Vital-Herne wrote on March 17, 1933, to S. W. Latimer, the third overseer of Church of God, to affiliate with the Church in Cleveland. At that time, there were eight local churches and by 1936, Haiti had 30 churches. Presently there are 741 local churches, 327 missions and more than 250,000 members. The Church of God is among the largest Christian movements in Haiti and also includes schools, such as the Seminaire Biblique. It is one of four bachelor’s-degree granting schools in Haiti and one of three in the country that is approved to train public school teachers. The Church of God has more than 100 schools (including elementary), several clinics, hospitals According to LeRoy, due to strained communication a full assessment of the casualties among church members and damage to buildings and homes will not be possible for some time. LeRoy did confirm that some of the national buildings were damaged, but the national office and missionary home are intact.

“Please consider giving compassionately to aid and comfort the people who were so greatly devastated by this earthquake,” LeRoy stated. “If we all do what we can, God will supply the needs of His people in Haiti.”

Church of God relief agencies, including Operation Compassion, are already on-site in the country with supplies that were delivered two months ago. More relief is on stand-by waiting for clearance. A Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund has been established through Church of God World Missions. Please indicate Project Number 7650042 when designating your donations either through the Web site www.cogwm.org or through the mail P.O. Box 8016, Cleveland, TN, 37320-8016. In addition, a video update, recorded on January 14, is located on the Church of God Web site.

Faith News will continue to provide updates as they become available. Updates will also be posted on the Church of God World Missions Web site or by visiting www.churchofgod.org.

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