Relationships are a big part of the life of an annual Conference. Members heard the news about their covenant brothers and sisters in Liberia and Haiti.
Senior Content Editor
June 4-5, 2021 | LANSING — On Friday morning, June 4, the Rev. Jon Reynolds, Chair of the Liberia Ministry Partners of The Michigan Conference, reminded members that a Covenant Partnership was originally established between the Detroit and Liberia conferences in 1999. “Over 20 years, our conferences have worked to bless one another and support the ministries of each country. We graced each other’s annual conferences, and our covenant led to the creation and continued support of the Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village in Liberia,” Reynolds said.
When the new Michigan Conference was formed, the affirmation of a new covenant was planned. A delegation from Michigan traveled to the Liberia Annual Conference in February 2020. At the gathering in Ganta City, they witnessed a nearly unanimous approval of the new relationship, which Bishop Samuel Quire signed.
The Ministry Partners have identified education, clean water, and agricultural initiatives as the primary needs for support. Reynolds stated, “It is unclear whether Michigan and Liberia conferences will end up in the same denomination after the next General Conference. … I am thankful for the relationships that we have built with our sisters and brothers in Liberia. I celebrate that we can find common cause in ministries addressing basic human rights and essential community development.”
Members of the Legislative Committee approved the Covenant Ministry Partnership with Liberia Annual Conference (Resolution #2021-18) with a 98% vote of affirmation, placing it on the Consent Calendar. The members of the Annual Conference confirmed that action by adopting the Consent Calendar on Friday morning. Bishop Bard noted, “This is a gift of our global Church. It is a relationship that will continue to bear fruit. The Michigan Conference has the opportunity to give and to learn and receive. In that, there is grace.”
On Saturday afternoon, members of AC 2021 viewed a new video featuring Haitian Assets for Peace International (HAPI). Bishop David Bard introduced the segment saying, “Congregations of The Michigan Conference are meaningfully engaged in missions of all kinds — in their local communities, throughout the state the country and around the world. Here is a look at work being done in Haiti.”
The video featured a conversation between Valerie Mossman-Celestin, U.S. Director of HAPI, and Carlie, who lives in Canada but volunteers online for HAPI. Valerie begins the conversation by saying, “HAPI had a lot of demand at our health center in 2020. People just kept coming through the doors — and the 2020 Michigan Annual Conference literally kept those doors open!”
Here’s a video transcript that introduces two mothers — Melianise Pierre and Morice Josette — who visited the Felisane Center in Mizak during their pregnancies. Also, Dr. Oberson, who worked at the Start Right clinic four months earlier this year, shares a word.
Opening scene: Valerie & Carlie
Valerie: Carlie, I am SO glad you called!
Carlie: S’ak pase, Valerie? (How are you?)
Valerie: M’ap boule! (I’m great!)
I am looking for ideas for a video that HAPI could present to the Michigan Annual Conference United Methodists.
HAPI had a lot of demand at our health center in 2020. People just kept coming through our doors – and the 2020 Annual Conference literally kept those doors open!
Carlie: I’m so glad HAPI could keep its doors open during the pandemic. I remember before COVID, I went to Haiti, me and my sister had to use the services from HAPI. I know my family was thankful. And with so many NGOs pulling out and hospital closures, I bet HAPI saw a big increase.”
Valerie: You are spot on! Start Right, our prenatal program, saw 350 moms last year and delivered 85 infants. That’s well above the national average of moms receiving prenatal care and, for hospital deliveries.
Our nurses were soooo glad that we were able to hire additional OB support with the offering. Without the additional staff, patient safety could have been compromised.
Carlie: I’d love to talk to some of the women who delivered there during the pandemic. I’ll set up a Zoom meeting with Dr. O, and I can speak with a few women there.
Valerie: Anfom! (Great!) I have just the audience in mind!
Next scenes: Interviews in Mizak, Haiti
Woman One: Melianise Pierre (reading by Christine Sema)
During my pregnancy, I originally went to a different place for my checkups. However, my delivery day was Carnival day, so when I called my Doctor in downtown Jacmel, he said he couldn’t come to his clinic to do the delivery. It was nighttime. I called a friend of mine who had gone to the Felisane clinic for her children. She told me to go to Felisane and that I would find help there.
Fortunately, when I arrived, I found 2 nurses there to assist me. I was almost ready to deliver when I got there, and the baby came right away. The nurses took good care of me. I had high blood pressure, and they made sure that my health was stable. They treated me like I was a long-time member of the clinic. No wonder why many of my neighbors had already come here to give birth.
It was a good experience; the services were great; they even gave me food after the delivery. At Jacmel, I would have had to wait for my family to bring me food. The nurses also provided me with free medicines to take home after the delivery. I am very grateful for the Felisane clinic.
Interview 2: Morice Josette (reading by Doris Prevost)
My younger sister had her babies at Felisane, so she told me about the clinic. She had a great experience with the Start Right program. She also told me that the maternity services were very good, that they didn’t let her suffer or anything. This is the reason why I decided to come here, even though I was in Port-Prince-Prince at the time.
When I came, I was welcomed. It was almost like they had been waiting for me. During my pregnancy, the doctor examined me, and they monitored the growth of the baby. They did all the follow-up until the delivery, which was terrific.
That’s the reason why I came here for my second baby. I was ashamed to come here the second time because I didn’t want the nurse to know that I got pregnant so soon after my first baby. But they accepted me and treated me well.
At Felisane, we receive all the medicines for free while we are pregnant. The delivery fee is very low compared to other places. The day of the delivery, the nurses constantly checked on me and my baby. After the delivery, I had an appointment every 6 weeks with the baby for follow-up.
Felisane is very different from other clinics. Firstly, here they provide free medicines. In the other places, we have to buy our own medicines. The only problem is that we can’t get a sonogram here, we have to go down to Jacmel to get it.
Secondly, Felisane is flexible. If you have a problem at home, there is a phone number that you can call and find assistance. They can also set up an appointment to come get medicines. So, the services are the best here.
I have another sister who was pregnant, and I personally brought her to Felisane. Unfortunately, she needed to have a C-section, so she couldn’t give birth here. Felisane is the best. When people ask where to go to deliver, I always send them here. They all come back and thank me because they are so satisfied.
Carlie: What is the value of a local clinic?
Dr. Oberson: I think the Center is very, very important for people because they don’t need to go to Port-au-Prince or go down to Jacmel to find something they can find in this community. But I think now they go to Jacmel to find advanced care, but for the first step, they just come here, and we can help them, so the clinic is very important for this community.
Ending scene: Valerie & Carlie
Valerie: I am so grateful to the Michigan Conference for being there! HAPI’s clinic filled the gap in services that other hospitals were not equipped to handle. And, of course, the reward for good work—is more work!! The community is asking HAPI to open our doors for urgent care 24/7.
Carlie: How are you going to get that done?
Valerie: We can add a second floor to our clinic to host local and international medical residents. They provide round-the-clock care at a low cost while receiving valuable professional and cross-cultural experience. 2020 was just the beginning! See you, Carlie!
Carlie: See you!
Valerie: Michigan Conference, your offering will continue to support the health and education of girls and women in Mizak Haiti—while also seeding their future. Thank you!
AC 2021 Offering supports Liberia and Haiti
The traditional offering at the 2021 Annual Conference will again benefit Michigan’s covenant partners, The Methodist Church of Haiti and The Liberia Annual Conference. Each will receive 45% of the total gifts. The Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village (Liberia) and Haitian Assets for Peace International are the recipients of the offering.
Total contributions will be reported at a later time. However, it is still possible to donate to these important ministries.
To donate by check: please make your check payable to “Michigan Conference,” noting “AC Offering” in the memo line. Members of the Annual Conference may include a check in the voting ballot envelope. Checks may be mailed separately to Michigan Conference Center North, Attn: Rich Pittenger, 1161 E. Clark Rd., Suite 212, DeWitt, MI 48820.
To donate online: An online offering option has been created to donate via PayPal. Please note that offerings received via PayPal cannot be credited toward church giving for this event.