The Florida-Bahamas Synod (FBS) relationship with the people of Haiti was a grassroots relationship that started in April, 1998 through the “Pigs and Pastors” project. This effort was initiated by the late Pastor Luther Kistler and his wife, Dottie. The Kistlers are affectionately called the “Father and Mother” of the ELH. This project grew into a relationship with the Haitian people, in particular with a group of pastors who desired to be a part of the Lutheran Church. The Florida-Bahamas Synod Haiti program has walked together with the people of Haiti in the development of the Lutheran churches, celebrating the ordination of the first four pastors on January 31, 2009, when the Eglise Lutherienne d’Haiti (ELH) was established. Pastor Joseph Livenson Lauvanus is the current president of Eglise Lutherienne d’Haiti and the liaison to the relationship with the Florida-Bahamas Synod. In 2010, the Eglise Lutherienne d’Haiti entered into a formal partnership relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
The involvement of the ELCA and FBS expanded with the ELH following the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. This tragedy resulted in over 200,000 people being killed, leaving the country economically and socially disrupted. The consequences of this disaster, along with repeated hurricanes and political and social dysfunction, increase the challenges for the people of Haiti to make a living and feed their families. The Lutheran Church of Haiti is present and active however, in some of the most distant and poorest areas of the country.
Since 2010, there has been significant growth of the ELH. Thanks to the efforts of Pastor Livenson and the Executive Council of the ELH working in accompaniment with the FBS Haiti Team, progress towards a functioning church continues. Our mutual goal continues to be to expand the church’s ministry together and to help improve the quality of life for all Haitians. Projects such as providing goats to families and erecting solar panels at the Lutheran Center in Gressier have empowered both the people and the church. God’s word continues to bless the people of Haiti as the gospel is shared–as of 2022 there are nearly 35 churches, with more contemplating becoming a part of ELH during the year ahead.
2021 was a particularly challenging year in Haiti, as the president was assassinated in June. Gang activity and violence has made the streets of Port Au Prince unsafe and political tension remained high. Then in August, there was a 7.2 earthquake in the southwest region of Haiti, followed by destructive storms. Over 2,000 died and nearly 13,000 people were injured. A Haiti Earthquake Disaster Fund was established by the synod and $40,000 was sent to ELH in order to address the immediate needs of families.
Alonzo Batson (firstname.lastname@example.org) serves as chair for the Haiti Team which meets regularly, aside from the Global Mission Table (GMT) meetings, to discuss the many projects and requests. Congregations or individuals interested in becoming involved with mission projects or considering developing mission trips to Haiti are encouraged to work with the Haiti Team and FB Synod office. A Companion Church Mission Trip Packet has been developed by the GMT to help with orientation and planning around mission trips.
Please contact Alonzo Batson or Rev. Katie Carroll, Chair of the FB Synod Global Mission Table (email@example.com) with questions about working with the ELH in Haiti.