HELP Updates

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dear Friends,

Many of you will have heard of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise early this morning at his residence in the hills above Port-au-Prince. Most businesses in and around Port-au-Prince did not open today and with little public transportation there have been few people in the streets and no significant demonstrations of any kind. Due to a number of factors, the presidential succession plan is not clear and the Prime Minister has assumed de facto control of the government.

At HELP, we closed out the school year in June, though due to coronavirus-related delays early in the school year, a handful of students are in their final weeks of university.  Therefore, this assassination will not affect most students’ studies in the short term.

The past two years have been difficult for Haitians, starting with violent anti-government strikes which shut down schools from September to December of 2019, followed closely by the coronavirus which shut down schools again from March through July of 2020. The security situation in and around Port-au-Prince disintegrated in 2020, with armed gangs sprouting up, controlling poor, densely populated neighborhoods, sparking a wave of kidnap for ransom across the capital, and more recently shutting down vast swaths of the city as a result of territorial disputes.

There has been no state-sponsored covid vaccination campaign and vaccines have yet to arrive in Haiti, due to the Moise administration declining a donation of vaccines earlier this year. Consequently, there has been a recent resurgence of covid-19 cases, most likely due to the Gamma variant from Brazil and experts fear that when the more contagious and deadly Delta variant arrives, the situation will only deteriorate.

Despite the disintegrating political, economic, security, and public health situation, your steady contributions enable HELP students not only to survive but to thrive in a supportive atmosphere, and to think about how to create the new leaders that their country so desperately needs. For the first time ever, 17 students are taking online courses during the summer session, and thanks to a longstanding partnership with Cornell University, four students are enrolled in an online summer class at Cornell. HELP enrolled Stael Toussaint (Law, ’22) in an online course in civic engagement at Bard College for the second semester and he wrote to us a few days ago as the course ended.

I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. I learned so much that in the end, I think I owe you more than just a thank you. I have progressed in many ways, and I even received a message from BARD, telling me that they have agreed to fund my project in Mariani… I believe in the mission of HELP, I believe in a new Haiti despite the circumstances.

As we celebrate 25 years of student success, we owe each of you a tremendous Thank You for continuing to believe in HELP’s goal of a more just society in Haiti through education.
 

Conor Bohan

Founder and Executive Director

 
P.S. from Editor
On July 13 the Haitian Education and Leadership Program’s director of development, Sam Connor, also shared with us an opinion-editorial from two graduates, Daphnée Charles and current Fulbright Scholar Stephanie Rubin.
 
 
Connor also shared a link to Daphnée’s nationally syndicated clip on The World July 12.
 
 


COVID-19 Update

A Message from Pastor Jay Shailer

Hello Friends!

Last week we promised that we would let you know how the new (and unexpected) COVID and mask guidelines would affect our life together as a congregation.
 
Of course, if we’ve learned nothing else in the last 14 months, we’ve learned that all of our plans need to be labeled as “tentative.” The situation can shift suddenly. So please recognize that these decisions may need to be shifted depending on the circumstances.
 
Please understand that regardless of the lifting of these limitations, Epiphany will continue to encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated to wear masks for their own personal safety and for the safety of children and others who are unable to be vaccinated.
 
Effective immediately, we will drop the worship guidelines and COVID restrictions for indoor and outdoor worship services.
 
  • Masks will be optional for those attending worship, ministries and events.
  • Seating configurations will return to normal, and physical distancing restrictions will be removed.
  • Masks will be optional for musicians who are leading worship.
  • The staff will continue to wear masks in the church building WHERE the Preschool and Morning Care programs are in session. We encourage others to do the same around our young people.
  • Hand sanitizer and masks will continue to be made available at worship entrances.
 
Stay tuned for further changes to be communicated in the future. As we gradually start back other ministries, please contact staff before making plans to restart. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Worship Changes Beginning May 16

A Message from Pastor Jay Shailer

 
Happy Easter, Christ is Risen!
 
It’s been a spirit-filled season of resurrection. Thank you all for making the celebration of the empty tomb so powerful and inspiring in worship these last six weeks. I am humbled by the outpouring of help by volunteers to keep worship possible, as well as our staff, who have continued their excellence by using their gifts to ensure that worship at Epiphany is meaningful and focused on giving thanks and praise to Christ.
 
I want to thank you all for being so understanding and willing to adapt through this period of pandemic. It has not been easy, and it has not been the way in which we want to live out our calling to share the Gospel. Yet, through your grace and support, we have been able to continue to keep the heart of our identity intact through live streaming and in-person health measures.
 
While we are not finished with all measures to ensure the safety of our congregation, through the vaccination efforts of our community and new guidance from the government, we will be able to relax some worship restrictions. I want to remind you all that your safety is important to us, and we continue to ask that you evaluate worship opportunities to make sure you and your family are comfortable and safe. The live stream at 10:30 a.m. is a permanent fixture of our worship life, and it will always be available if you are unable to be present in person. We are excited to continue to work towards opening worship back up in new ways and hope that we will see you soon in worship.

Here’s the news on worship starting May 16:
 
For all services:
  • We continue to alternate the contemporary praise and traditional services between the 9 and 10:30 a.m. services.
  • Reservations will no longer be required.
  • We will no longer check your temperature before entering worship.
  • Bulletins will be provided.
  • We will continue the communion cup/wafer combo we’ve been using, and we will continue to bring communion to you.
  • We will not yet pass the offering plate, which will remain at the entrance/exit. We continue to encourage online giving.
  • We will no longer transmit services on FM to the parking lot.
  • We will continue to limit bathroom use to two people at a time.
  • We will continue to use hand sanitizer stations placed at both indoor and outdoor worship services.

This Sunday, May 16, we move the 9 a.m. service to the Outdoor Chapel.
  • If you are fully vaccinated, masks will not be required for outdoor worship.
  • We ask that people continue to observe physical distancing between households/families as much as possible.
  • We will post a notification to social media and website homepage if the service will be moved inside for inclement weather.

Indoor worship continues in the Far Hills Sanctuary at 10:30 a.m.
  • Masks are still required indoors.
  • We ask that people continue to observe physical distancing between households/families by finding a seat behind the numbers in the pews.
  • Hymnals will be placed in the pews.
  • Singing will be permitted with a mask.
  • We will not have overflow seating in the Celebration Center, as the space is prepared for the summer musical.

Livestreaming continues at 10:30 a.m.
  • As always, we value your health and wellbeing, and we want you to worship in person only if you feel comfortable.
  • We encourage you to worship from home if you or someone in your family is not feeling well, are exhibiting symptoms, have conditions that put you at risk, or if you just don’t feel comfortable worshiping in person just yet.
  • We will no longer email bulletins on Fridays, but the bulletin will continue to be posted on our website Friday afternoons.


In Person Worship Returns March 7

A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR JAY SHAILER
 
Good News! I am excited to announce that Epiphany will resume in-person worship at the Far Hills Campus starting March 7.
 
Epiphany’s congregational council, along with the guidance of local health and medical professionals, has determined that it is possible for us to worship together using the health guidelines that were developed in the fall of last year. As always, we value your health and wellbeing, and we want you to be able to come back only if you feel comfortable. Please know that we will continue to livestream the 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship service, and we will continue to offer individual times for communion throughout the week if you are not yet ready to come back on Sunday.
 
We will communicate the health guidelines that we used previously in the coming days. We will also begin in-person worship by using the online reservation system, which will open Tuesday afternoon, March 2.
 
One addition to last fall is that we will have the Celebration Center open and available for overflow. The service will be streamed into the Celebration Center, and you will be able to receive Holy Communion along with those in the Sanctuary.
 
I would also like to share that we do not want anyone to let their guard down too early as we move back toward public worship. While we strongly feel it is safe to worship together using our guidelines, if you continue to gather offsite for small group or breakfast after worship, please be safe and look out for each other as we are our brother’s keeper.
 

We have missed you all dearly and look forward to worshiping our Lord Jesus with you all very soon!

 

Peace, Pr. Jay


The Voice of God Speaks

The voice of God speaks.

There is power in the voice of God. There is power in the Word of God.

The psalmist captures the power of God’s voice, which can break the mighty cedars and shake the wilderness.

There is power in the voice of God.

You and I know that, for there are memories we carry for a lifetime. I am making an assumption here, because I know this is true for me, and I imagine it is also the same for you.
 

What voices have had power in your life?

Whose voice do you remember that first gave you a word of encouragement?

Whose voice is one that tore you down, and decades later, you can still hear that voice?
 

Sarah and Paul were children in my first congregation. They were two of three children. Their brother, Scott, had died of smoke inhalation. The smoke came from a fire Paul started in the family’s house. Paul had found his mother’s cigarette lighter, and lit the couch on fire. Everyone got out, but Scott died a few days after the fire. He was only four years old and the baby of the family.

Sarah and Paul were eight and six years old at the time. Their grandmother helped out where she could, but the family was broken. They had no home to live in, so they lived with grandma. Saddened and depressed, they had a hard time keeping it together.

Grandma wanted to do what she could. She knew that the kids needed a different environment. So, the summer after the fire, which happened in January that year, she signed them up for camp at Lutheran Memorial Camp in central Ohio. She was concerned about what they might experience. She let the camp staff know about the accident, and told them that camp fires might be difficult for the kids. Mindful of what had happened, the staff assured grandma and the parents that they would keep a close eye on the kids.

I was present when Sarah and Paul were dropped off for the week at camp. I saw the hesitation in their eyes, and in the eyes of their parents and grandmother, too. After a few tears, the adults left and the kids started the week at camp. I was dropping off my daughter that week, too.

I attended the week’s closing ceremony, a time when families gathered to pick up their kids and hear their songs and share a meal. I remember at that ceremony, when Paul saw me — his pastor — he ran over to me and said hi. He started to tell me about his week at camp, and how much fun he had.

Then Paul pointed to his counselor, Steve. Paul told me that Steve was the best counselor at camp.

Paul looked at me and said, “Pastor, do you know what Steve told me? Steve told me that I am special.” The smile on Paul’s face and the glimmer in his eye were powerful.

For the previous six months, Paul had heard many other voices.

At camp, through a messenger of God named Steve, Paul heard another voice.

The psalmist writes “May the Lord bless his people with peace.”

Through a counselor with Steve, the Lord did just that.

What a powerful voice.
 
 

Let us pray: 

Thank you for those who speak powerful words of peace, love and hope. Help us to do the same when we open our mouths. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Psalm 29 

 

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,

    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;

    worship the Lord in holy splendor.

 

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

    the God of glory thunders,

    the Lord, over mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;

    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

 

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

 

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.

The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;

    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

 

The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,

    and strips the forest bare;

    and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

 

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.

11 May the Lord give strength to his people!

    May the Lord bless his people with peace!
 
 


HTF Update from Maya

Meet in Person with Maya 
Tuesday, March 3 
7:30 PM, Austin Campus
 
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than 6 million Haitians live below the poverty line on less than US$2.41 per day, and more than 2.5 million fall below the extreme poverty line of US$1.23 per day. The political instability of the past year further hindered Haiti’s economic and social development, and the unrest has directly impacted our partners and the Haitians they serve.
 
We have an exciting opportunity to welcome HTF’s Haiti Country Director Luckner Fond Rose (better known as Maya), who is the in-country, on-the-ground leadership of HTF. Maya will give an update of how things are going on the ground now that the period of civil unrest has settled, and he will speak to how HTF’s mission model proved strong through that time. He will also update us on the executive director transition currently taking place. 
 
Please join us in welcoming Maya and hearing his message.


Rise Up for Haiti

To the right is a picture of HTF’s in-country director, Maya, as he makes plans for food distribution on November 26 for 100 families in the Jacmel area. He identified families from several partners there to receive cooking oil, spaghetti, rice and sardines. HTF wired funds to cover the first round, but more can be done through your donations.
 
After two months of government, business and school closures, the Education Ministry called for children to return to school on Monday, December 2. Some schools were about a quarter full and other schools had only a few students in attendance or didn’t open at all. Click here for a full New York Times article.
 

From the Haitian Timoun Foundation

Our friends in Haiti are living amid dire circumstances. Fuel is scarce, leadership is silent, and citizens are rightfully demanding answers. Schools and businesses are closed, and public transportation is running at skeleton levels. Prices of food and other staples have been increasing at unbelievable rates, because of the limited ability to get goods to market coupled with a collapsing economy. Violence ensues throughout the country to the point that people are afraid to leave their homes. Our hearts break knowing of the suffering among millions of people as the country is held hostage. We are called to Rise Up for Haiti as we stand together with our brothers and sisters as they weather this enormous crisis.

In addition to our Haitian partners continuing to provide necessary services to the countless Haitians in need, they now require additional support simply to provide basic daily sustenance. There is no end in sight for this crisis, therefore HTF is committed to Rise Up for Haiti for as long as it takes.
 
HAITI IS IN CRISIS
While Haiti has a history of government corruption and instability coupled with periodic unrest, the situation in Haiti right now is decidedly different. This crisis has been building since the middle of last year and shows no sign of abating.
 
To learn more details about the recent situation in Haiti read these articles:
 
WIDESPREAD INTERNATIONAL AID IS NOT IMMEDIATELY FORTHCOMING
As NGOs leave the country and non-essential personnel in the foreign embassies have been sent home, HTF is doing what we have always done. We are standing by our partners and those communities in Haiti with whom we have built long-term relationships.

Rise Up for Haiti will raise funds to ensure that our Haitian partners have the food, water, fuel, and supplies to sustain the lives of their staff and those they serve. Please join HTF and Rise Up for Haiti today!
 
Please join HTF and Rise Up for Haiti! The time is now. Lives depend on it. God is counting on us so that all may have life!
 
You can make a donation toward Rise Up for Haiti through online giving, by cash or check designated for “Haiti Rise Up” or by texting “HaitiRiseUp 100” or whatever dollar amount you wish to donate to 833-941-1494. Learn more about GIVE+ TEXT.
 


Message from HTF Founder

November 2019

Dear Friends of HTF and Haiti,

We need your help. A severe crisis of human suffering has gripped Haiti. Massive protests are taking place against Haiti’s corrupt leadership, and a compromised police force and foreign mercenaries are battling back. Schools are closed, roads are blocked, food and clean water are scarce, inflation is rampant, hospitals lack basic supplies, electricity is in short supply, and those suffering the most are the most vulnerable: the children. In recent days, the violence has hit home as people and children dear to us have been victims of the violence.

While Haiti has a history of government corruption and instability coupled with periodic unrest, the situation in Haiti right now is decidedly different. This crisis has been building since the middle of last year and shows no sign of abating. So far, there is no cavalry coming to the rescue nor any political resolution in sight.

When the January 2010 earthquake happened, television and other media brought it front and center to the whole world. It touched hearts, and people responded. Today, as much of the world and our own country are embroiled in their own conflicts, the situation in Haiti is getting scant attention. This lack of media attention does not make it any less real.
As non-governmental organizations leave the country and non-essential personnel in the foreign embassies have been sent home, HTF is doing what we have always done. We are standing by our partners and those communities in Haiti with whom we have built long-term relationships. The courage of our partners and their resiliency to adjust and carry-on as best they can the essential work that we do together inspire us.

After the 2010 earthquake, the US Peace Corps named HTF as one of their five most effectively positioned organizations to be good stewards of emergency relief funds. Their faith and countless donors’ faith were validated as our grassroots network and presence on the ground saved lives and led towards recovery from the disaster.

We appeal to your generosity so that we can stand with the most vulnerable in Haiti during this crisis. The cards stacked against them are high, but with your help we can get to our partners – from La Montagne to the Central Plateau, and from Jacmel to Port-au-Prince – the resources they need. Together with your generosity we will Rise Up and save lives. Thank you.
 
Pou tout moun kapab gen lavi (that ALL may have life),

Rick Barger
You can make a donation toward Rise Up for Haiti through online giving, by cash or check designated for “Haiti Rise Up” or by texting “HaitiRiseUp 100” or whatever dollar amount you wish to donate to 833-941-1494. Learn more about GIVE+ TEXT.
 


Meet Jinoue Cherizard

Haitian Education Leadership Program Alumna

Pharmacy – Class of 2016

Throughout primary and secondary school, Jinoue was consistently regarded as a model student. “I was always at the top of my class,” she recalls. “And all of my teachers loved me.”Besides earning top grades herself, Jinoue also volunteered as a tutor for her peers, and found time to participate in a literature club, a dance troupe, and a youth group at her church.
 
But Jinoue’s family struggled financially, with her parents – a subsistence farmer and a vendor in the local market – barely making enough for the family of six children to get by. Despite her impeccable academic record and excellent reputation, university seemed out of the question for Jinoue until her school principal told her about HELP.
 
Today, Jinoue is working towards fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a medical professional. “I want to be an advocate for the healthcare of the Haitian people,” she says. “I hope to play a role in ending some of the public health epidemics we face as a country.” Jinoue continues to thrive academically, and is able to focus on her university studies without the stress of economic hardship. “I’m thankful to HELP because it provides a path to success for promising young people like me,” she says.
Once Epiphany’s sponsorship student is selected, we will share his or her profile and keep in touch through the entire education journey. In the mean time, learn more about Haitian Education Leadership Program Alumni here
 
You can make a donation toward sponsoring our student through online giving, by cash or check designated for “Haiti HELP” or by texting “HaitiHelp 100” or whatever dollar amount you wish to donate to 833-941-1494. Learn more about GIVE+ TEXT.


Catching up with Larry Hoffsis

Dear Epiphany:
 
I’m excited to participate in the celebration of Epiphany’s 60 years of ministry. It will be an honor for me to serve as a guest preacher, along with the other former pastors.
 
It is likely that God called me to Epiphany to give me an opportunity to experience ministry in a setting new to me — that of a growing suburban community.
 
I had already experienced life in a congregation of farmers, having grown up in St. Paul Lutheran Church in north central Ohio. My first parish, St. John Lutheran Church, was in a small town in Sidney, Ohio. When God’s call came to serve Epiphany, I was in my thirteenth year of ministry at Old Trinity Lutheran Church, a metropolitan church in a large urban setting in downtown Columbus.
 
The call to suburban Epiphany came in 1979. I retired in 2000. That means I had the privilege of spending 21 years at Epiphany, a ministry which involved expansion of racial and ecumenical relationships locally, as well as numerous partnerships globally.


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