Perspectives on Presbyterians and the larger religious scene from the research staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Over this past weekend it was reported that Tropical Storm Isaac hit Haiti with heavy winds and rains, killing at least 24 people. Haiti, as you may know, suffered major devastation in January of 2010 when it was hit by an earthquake.
With thoughts of Haiti looming heavy on my heart, I explored the newly-released results from the 2011 Clerk’s Annual Questionnaire, which contains data about the Presbyterian response to the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The Clerk’s Annual Questionnaire is a survey sent to all Presbyterian congregations from the denomination’s research office. The 2011 questionnaire was filled out by each congregation’s clerk of session between January and April of 2011.
Nearly half of congregations (48%) reported that the congregation had donated funds for disaster relief or mission work in Haiti since the earthquake in January of 2010. More than four in nine congregations (46%) also said that individual members in their congregations had donated funds. One quarter of congregations (25%) reported both.
One in ten congregations (11%) reported that someone from their congregation visited Haiti to do mission work or to help with disaster relief since the earthquake. Of these congregations, (4%) sent a person or group to Haiti, and 7% saw one or more worshipers travel to Haiti who were not officially sent by the congregation.
At the time of the survey, only 5% of congregations were planning or considering a trip to Haiti in 2012 or 2013. Three-quarters (74%) of the congregations planning or considering a trip were congregations that had previously sent someone to Haiti or congregations where individual members had volunteered in Haiti. One-quarter of congregations (26%) that reported considering or planning a trip to Haiti had not sent worshipers since 2010 nor reported that worshipers had been since 2010. About one in five congregations (21%) were interested in receiving information about doing effective mission work in Haiti from the Presbyterian Church Office. Of those congregations requesting information, one in five congregations had sent someone to Haiti or had reported that individuals from the congregation had gone to Haiti to help with recovery after the earthquake.
Gratefully, the damage to Haiti from Tropical Storm Isaac was not as bad as was originally anticipated. Yet, I know worshipers in many Presbyterian congregations will continue to hold Haiti in their prayers, contribute funds, and think about other ways in which their congregation can help.
For more information about ways you can help Haiti, click here
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