ABHMS grant helps strengthen relationship among ABCMNY, Haitian churches

A recent grant from American Baptist Home Mission Societies is helping American Baptist Churches of Metro New York (ABCMNY) strengthen its relationship with the eight Haitian American Baptist churches in New York City.

“ABHMS is committed to partnering with and supporting the Haitian churches in the U.S. and Puerto Rico,” says the Rev. Salvador Orellana, director of Intercultural Ministries at ABHMS. “Intercultural Ministries knows firsthand the challenges our ethnic communities face when trying to navigate the system in the United States and our denomination because of the culture, language and lack of resources. We want to serve as a resource and bridge to connect them.”

The relationship among ABCMNY and the Haitian churches is maintained by the Rev. Pierot Julien, a native of Haiti and coordinator of Haitian Ministries for ABCMNY. He visits the churches monthly, and often preaches for them.

“Sometimes the [Haitian] community has a lot of problems after a lot of people [Haitians] cross the border from Mexico to here [the United States],” he says.

He has reached out to Haitian churches that have been inactive, reactivating some of them. One new church is interested in becoming part of ABCMNY and ABCUSA.

“What the challenge is for us is language and understanding the culture,” says the Rev. Dr. Cheryl Dudley, regional executive minister of ABCMNY.

Julien’s role is especially important, considering the humanitarian crisis that has worsened since  the assassination of the president of Haiti last summer. The country has been plagued by earthquakes, poverty, gang violence, COVID and political protests.

“Oftentimes we use the word or term marginalized, but I think that the better term would be underfoot because of the crushing load of trauma that Haitian folks have sustained that has been unrelenting,” Dudley says. “So we are glad through our region and through cooperation with ABHMS to be able to help lift the rubble that has been on the Haitian people. Any way that we can connect, show compassion and build community, we are so grateful to be able to do that. And this grant has helped that be possible.”

Julien is also secretary of the Alliance of Haitian Baptist Churches USA.