Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
“We are no strangers to what people in crises go through,” says Jim Klosterboer, pastor.
So when members heard about the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, many promptly opened their hearts and their wallets.
“We’re a small congregation, like many in the ELCA, but we have a long history of responding quickly and generously to disasters,” Pastor Jim says.
Like Bethany, other ELCA congregations across the nation responded with speed and generosity.
Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Madley, Pa., was committed to that walk with the people of Haiti.
“So many people do what they can to help after a disaster,” says Eli Baker, a member of Christ Lutheran. “However, weeks down the road, some may forget and go on with their lives.”
For that reason, Christ Lutheran held additional collections into spring 2010, with youth providing up-to-date news reports on the disaster as offerings were taken.
“It was an effort to keep Haiti in our prayers and in our hands,” Eli says.
Daniel Rift, who directs ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal, was grateful for the outpouring of financial gifts from ELCA congregations but not surprised.
“The ELCA has a tradition of generosity,” he noted, recalling that total response to the tsunami in Thailand five years ago exceeded $11 million.
According to Daniel, as of January 2011, ELCA Disaster Response has received more than $12 million in gifts, most from ELCA members and congregations.
The ELCA’s swift and effective response is possible because of long-standing partnerships with organizations on the ground in Haiti.
The financial generosity of members, congregations and synods (called mission support) pays for administrative costs, allowing 100 percent of designated gifts to go directly to the people of Haiti, providing food, water, medical supplies and shelter.
In an e-letter shortly after the earthquake, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson told members that their gifts made a difference in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.
Hanson noted, “This church is committed to walking with with our brothers and sisters in Haiti for years to come.
“Your generosity (makes) this lifesaving work possible.”