Haiti Church Construction Project

(One of St. Paul’s Easter Projects)

Since 1987, St. Paul’s Akron has had a relationship with the congregation of St. Etienne’s, an Episcopal mission located in a rural, extremely mountainous area, known as Buteau, located about 45 miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. During that period, about 40 of our parishioners have taken part in one or more of eleven separate trips to St. Etienne’s. While the overall thrust of this program has been the establishment of personal relationships between the members of our two churches, our work on various phases of a long-range construction project has provided a vehicle and a focus for our effort. This long-range construction project involves building a new school and church, so that the existing school and church building can be converted into a medical dispensary and a clinic. Thus, in addition to providing spiritual and educational opportunities which would otherwise be unavailable, St. Etienne’s will also be providing medical care for several thousand poor mountain folks who are now without such services.

For several years, our work has been on the school portion of the long-range project. We have, in partnership with two other American churches, completed the classroom portion of the school, and about 600 children are now attending classes in six classrooms that were built as a result of this effort. Most of those 600 children would not be in school anywhere if our project had not been built.

That particular phase having been completed, St. Paul’s has decided to continue, and we are seeking partners to proceed with the next phase of the work. This phase is the construction of a portion of the new church, enabling the congregation to worship there, and freeing up the old church for use as a community medical facility. The congregation of St. Etienne’s number about 1,000, with 300 to 500 in church each Sunday morning; the church supports five choirs, extensive Bible study, home visits to shut-ins, baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals. The new church building is to be located directly adjacent to the school, allowing it to be used for school assemblies, concerts, and community gatherings.
St. Etienne’s is the focal point, and the principal religious and social institution for several thousand mountain folk. The importance of the church to the community was recently recognized by the government of Haiti, when it officially changed the name of the locale from “Buteau” to “St. Etienne.”

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