Leaders of some of the largest predominantly black Baptist organizations plan to announce that they will contribute $50 million toward rebuilding Haiti, following the January earthquake that devastated the island nation.
Representatives of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the National Baptist Convention USA and the National Baptist Convention of America are scheduled to speak in Chicago for the announcement.
“We are serious about investing in Haiti as African-American religious leaders,” said Dr. David Emmanuel Goatley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Washington, D.C. – based Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention. That organization has been working with churches and families in Haiti long before the quake.
Other partners in the new effort also have worked previously in Haiti.
“What we want to do now is expand what we were doing and strengthen the networks,” Goatley said. “We want to amplify what was being done there to ensure that we make a significant impact and help the people of Haiti.”
The Baptist groups want to focus on infrastructure, according to Goatley.
“We want our response to go beyond the initial emergency response,” he said.
Plans call for the group to build 50 schools, 500 churches and 5,000 houses. He anticipates it will take three to five years to raise the money and complete the work.
“I know $50 million sounds like a lot of money, but we have 50,000 churches in these denominations that can give $1,000 each,” Goatley said. The church organizations have a combined membership totaling more than 10 million people.
Churches in a variety of denominations have been working since the Jan. 12 earthquake to provide money, food and assistance to the millions left homeless, hungry and hurt in the catastrophe.
In Rocky Mount, N.C., the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church partnered with the American Red Cross to send several tractor-trailers loaded with aid to Haiti. The trailers included 76 boxes of shoes, 688 boxes of clothes, 60 boxes of food, 15 boxes of medical supplies and 247 cases of water, according to an article published in the Rocky Mount Telegram.
The Catholic Relief Service has raised $38 million in emergency aid for Haiti, according to the organization’s Web site. That money has come from parishes, colleges and universities, Catholic schools and special fundraisers.
“We even heard of one little girl who sold all of her stuffed animals to raise donations,” CRS Executive Vice President Joan Rosenhauer said in a prepared statement. “We really appreciate every effort, no matter how small or large.”
United Methodist Churches have already donated $11 million to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, according to the denomination’s Web site. In addition to the money, Methodist churches around the country have been busy assembling aid kits and other supplies.
“We need ongoing support and prayers for the partnership in Haiti to stay strong,” the Rev. Paul Doherty, chair of the Michigan Area Haiti task force and an UMCOR liaison, said in a prepared statement. “The journey to bring relief to Haiti is going to be long and hard. It calls for generosity and sacrifice.”
Goatley said while the press conference on Tuesday launches the combined efforts of the groups, individual organizations and member churches have longstanding relationships in Haiti.
“One church has built a clinic through a partnership. Another church has been feeding 300 people daily since the earthquake,” Goatley said. In February, the Lott Carey mission group gave groceries and cash grants to 1,000 families, in addition to other assistance.
While much is being planned in Haiti, more still is needed, said Goatley, who will travel to the nation later this month.
“We wanted to come together at this time because there is so much more to be accomplished when we work together,” Goatley said. “It’s important that we do this while people’s hearts still are turned toward Haiti.”