On January 12th, two and 1/2 weeks ago, the earthquake disaster hit Haiti.  Immediately, on the 13th, the ELCA announced an immediate commitment of $250,000 toward disaster relief and also promised another $500,000 in anticipation of receipt of sufficient donations from ELCA members and member churches.

On January 15th, the ELCA announced it would keep a phone bank open to receive contributions and also announced a “strong and generous response from members” that could soon raise the ELCA contribution to $1 million. 

On the 19th, the ELCA announced it had received at least $1.2 million or more when all the checks were counted.

Haiti relief On the 20th, the first convoy of Lutheran World Federation (LWF) relief supplies arrived in Port au Prince.

Also on the 20th, Lutheran CORE spokesperson Erma Wolf broke with CORE’s financial boycott of the ELCA, stating, “I am going to make a suggestion, request, perhaps plea is the best word for it, now,” she wrote.  “Send an offering to the ELCA Vision for Mission Fund.”

On the 22nd, the total gifted to the ELCA reached $1.6 million.

On the 29th came the announcement that the state of Florida had enlisted the services of Lutheran Disaster Response to assist with processing Haitians with US passports through Florida airports into the US.

Bishop Hanson forum Also on the 29th, presiding bishop Mark Hanson issued a letter to ELCA constituencies announcing the ELCA gifts had reached $2.5 million, summarizing the ELCA efforts to date, and encouraging further member contributions.  His letter is printed in full below:

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it;
if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”
–1 Corinthians 12:26

Almost two weeks have passed since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The outpouring of gifts from members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to ELCA Disaster Response has enabled a swift response on behalf of this church. 

Thank you for your generous financial support which now totals more than $2.5 million. Many gifts are still being counted. Our community-based partners are already providing:

  • Two water purification systems to bring clean water to 25,000 people.
  • Emergency food and medical supplies to thousands.
  • Blankets and tents to shelter 10,000 people who are homeless.

Funding, distributed through three partners, will increase as giving continues.

  • $300,000 has been sent to The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a key responder and member of Action by Churches Together (ACT). The funds support LWF efforts to provide shelter to people left homeless by the quake. 
  • $150,000 has been sent to Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Baltimore, for material aid.
  • $150,000 will be sent to Church World Service (CWS) for construction of temporary water systems and distribution of water purification materials. 

In addition, $25,000 has been sent to Lutheran Services of Florida for initial support to refugees and Haitian Americans entering or returning to the United States.

We are pleased that Louis Dorvillier, director for International Development and Disaster Response in the ELCA Global Mission program unit, is part of a delegation to his country of origin with LWF and ACT.

Your generosity makes this life-saving work possible. As we celebrate this outpouring of gifts and prayers, we also know that we have a long road to travel together. There is so much more to be done. This church is committed to walking with our brothers and sisters in Haiti for years to come; your continued support is needed to provide ongoing care.

I encourage you to visit the ELCA Disaster Response (http://www.elca.org/disaster) Web site for updated information, worship resources, bulletin inserts and details on how to offer financial support. General mission-support dollars and gifts to ELCA Vision for Mission make it possible for 100 percent of your gifts designated for Haiti Earthquake Relief to be used entirely for this response effort.

To give today, go online (www.elca.org/haitiearthquake) or call 800-638-3522.

In God’s grace,

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America