President’s Statement in Response to the Crisis in Haiti

dirvin_smallThe recent earthquake in Haiti calls upon all of us who are people of faith to respond.  The initial question many often ask when confronted with disasters of such extraordinary magnitude is “why?”  This is the question that Jesus’ disciples raised in John 9:2 when seeing a man blind from birth they asked who sinned, this man or his parents?  Jesus responded by saying neither, but that his condition was an occasion for the work of God to be made manifest.  So it is with the recent earthquake in Haiti.  This is an occasion for the healing and redeeming work of God to be revealed.  New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) as a community of faith is being called to join with others in manifesting that work in the world once again in our day.

The entire NYTS community joins me I am sure in first and foremost expressing our profound condolences to the people of Haiti both in homeland and throughout the world for the tragic suffering and loss of life that they have experienced.  We especially wish to express our sympathies to our students, graduates, staff, faculty members and friends who are from Haiti, who have relatives in Haiti, or who have ministries in Haiti.  We have watched the images on our television and computer screens, have listened to reports from families and friends, and wish to convey that we are determined to stand with our brothers and sisters in Haiti, in the New York metropolitan region, and around the world in their suffering and grief.

In the same breath we commend the President of the United States and the numerous international relief organizations, both religious and secular, for responding so quickly to the situation by sending resources and personnel to help alleviate the immediate crisis.  We recognize the enormity of the challenge that remains before the world in reaching those who are still trapped, in need of medical attention, or without the basic resources of food and water, to say nothing of the need to grieve, to attend to the dead, and to begin to rebuild both city and nation.  We call upon all who are in positions of authority and are capable of responding to continue to do so with resolve so that the work of God may continue to be manifest beyond the immediate surge of relief.

We also call upon the churches and other religious communities in our city, throughout our nation, and around the world not only to hold the people of Haiti in prayer, but to make every effort to support the recovery effort through financial gifts and other means at their disposal.  Such an outpouring of gifts and personnel help increase the work of God that we see taking place.

Finally, we recognize in this crisis an opportunity to address the profound historical conditions that have given rise to poverty and oppression in Haiti.  The attention of the world is focused upon this small nation in the Caribbean in a new way today.  May we not lose this opportunity to address the fundamental issues of international economic disparity, racism, and oppression that have colluded to deny the people of Haiti the opportunity to enjoy all that God would have for them as a nation.

There are several action steps that we can and will be taking.

  1. The most important means of showing concrete support right now is to make a financial contribution.  Members of the NYTS community are urged to make a donation to one or more of the various organizations involved in relief, such as Church World Service or World Vision.  In addition to this, during the week of January 18 through 25 the Seminary will be taking up a special collection to be given to one or more relief organizations that are now on the ground in Haiti involved in relief.  Mr. Daryl Bloodsaw, President of the NYTS Student Association, and Mr. Jerry Reisig, Chair of the NYTS faculty Community Life Committee, will coordinate this effort.
  2. During the days and weeks ahead we will be asking members of our NYTS community who are from Haiti or have active ministries in Haiti to let us know how we can increase our support for their work.
  3. Mr. Daryl Bloodsaw has informed me that as President of the NYTS Student Association he is reaching out to his counterpart in other theological schools to explore an inter-seminarian relief project.
  4. NYTS will devote time in the coming semester in both its curricular and its extra-curricular activities to study the situation of Haiti, to be in fuller dialogue with members of the NYTS community who identify themselves as Haitian in origin, and to look at ways to address some of the more underlying historical conditions that have given rise to Haiti’s difficulties as a nation.
  5. We will continue to lift up the needs of Haiti and all Haitians in prayer.

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all NYTS classes will take place remotely for the Fall 2020 semester