WCC General Secretary, Delegation to Visit Haiti

An ecumenical delegation led by the head of the World Council of Churches (WCC) will visit Haiti this week to meet with church leaders, government officials, and victims of the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake.

The delegation, which will start their three-day visit Monday, will include WCC heads from North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, France and the Dominican Republic, as well as WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit.

According to a spokesperson for the ecumenical organization, the delegation will learn first-hand about church projects in Haiti that are providing support and relief to the victims of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck earlier this year, and will visit church buildings of different denominations that were destroyed in the quake.

The Jan. 12 quake had left a quarter million of the country's nine million people dead and at least 1.3 million homeless after damaging more than 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings.

Since the temblor struck, the WCC has been collaborating with the Caribbean Conference of Churches and the ACT Alliance to bring about "real and lasting development of this impoverished nation, beyond the current emergency efforts."

The WCC has also called for the immediate and unconditional cancellation of Haiti's foreign debt and called for prompt support in the relief efforts.

"The people of Haiti should now experience the prompt support and help from others," Tveit said on the morning after the quake.

"Let us keep our member churches in Haiti and all affected by the earthquake in our prayers and thoughts," he added.

During this week's WCC visit, hosted by the Protestant Federation of Haiti, the delegation will pray with leaders of churches in Haiti – including mainline Protestant churches, Evangelical and Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal – and discuss with them what it means to be church together in Haiti today.

A meeting with government officials is also on the agenda.

"It is hoped that it (the visit) will help the ecumenical family to continue advocating and working together towards a new beginning for the reconstruction of the country, based on justice and self-determination of the Haitian people," reported Maria Halava, WCC's media representative in Haiti.

WCC member churches present in Haiti include the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church in the USA, and the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas. Based in Haiti, meanwhile, is the Baptist Convention of Haiti.

This week's visit by the seven-person delegation is set to conclude Wednesday.

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