facebook script

Can't find something?

We're here to help.

Send us an email at:

[email protected]

and we'll get back with you as soon as possible.

Teaching preachers, walking with giants

Clergy leaders from the Michigan Area participate in a Local Pastors’ Academy in Haiti.

Michigan Area Communications

Picture this:  a small un-air conditioned classroom packed with over 50 local preachers for two-hour lectures in the stifling Haitian heat.  Many of them traveled many difficult miles and gave up one or two days of work in order to be here.  They sit quietly, eagerly scribbling down notes, trying to absorb every word. 

This is the Haiti Local Pastors’ Academy led by clergy from the Michigan Area.  For six days in April, they covered subjects dealing with the purpose and structuring of worship and the content and methods of preaching.  The clergy team was led by Karl Zeigler and included Tonya Arneson, Brian Willian, Jeremy Peters, Ellen Brubaker and David Gladstone.  They were assisted by Jodi Crimmel, Peggy Moran, Jen Peters, and Yachelle Watson. In all they met with over 350 lay preachers serving the Methodist Church in Haiti.

There are only about 15 fully ordained clergy in Haiti so most of the churches are served by unpaid lay preachers who give of their time and passion to led the congregations scattered across this island nation, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.  For many years the Michigan Area has maintained a partner covenant with the Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti which has included building churches, schools and nursing stations. 

Over the past three decades the Michigan Area has sent hundreds of volunteers on mission teams to work alongside our Haitian brothers and sisters in witnessing and ministering in the name of Jesus Christ.  The Lay Pastor Academies seek to address the urgent need for more training for men and women who sense the call and are willing to serve in leading the church but have had no formal training.  The April session was the third in the series.  In November the team will return to teach sessions in Church Doctrine  and Methodist Beliefs. 

While the Zeigler team was focusing on preaching and worship, another team including Ray McGee, Latha Ravi, and Reed Swanson were teaching Old Testament. The New Testament classes were taught by Diana and Bob Goudie, Jennifer Jue, Mary McInnes and Melodye Surgeon-Rider.  During their time in Haiti they were able to connect with Nancy Smith from FUMC Birmingham who has been coordinating nursing work in Jeremie, Haiti and they visited a number of projects which had been sponsored by Flint Court Street, Dixboro and Detroit Metropolitan congregations.

For many of the members of the team, this was their first time to visit Haiti and the response was summed up in words like “thrilling”, “wonderful” and “overwhelming”.  A highlight for David Gladstone came at the end of a worship service when the choir escorted him to the loft so he could join in singing the “Hallelujah Chorus”.  But the real impact of the Local Pastors’ Academy will be seen in the months and years to come as these dedicated preachers scatter to their congregations with new wisdom, insight and commitment to share the Word through their pulpits. 

Jeremy Peters wrote, “When I got to Haiti and looked at those preachers, I wondered, “Why are they here? Why have they given up so much for so little?”  And then, during one of the lectures, they started to sing.  I didn’t know the words or the tune, but in their voices I found the answer to my question.  In that moment I realized they were here because they love Jesus, they are alive in the Holy Spirit, they believe in the Methodist Church and they want to proclaim the Gospel.  In that moment I realized I was walking with giants.  In that moment, they taught me.”

Teaching preachers, walking with giants.  That’s the work of the Local Pastors’ Academy and the partnership between the people called Methodist in Haiti and Michigan.

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

The Michigan Conference