Bay Area congregations gather in support of Haiti

January 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
On the first Sunday after a 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, people crowded into Bay Area churches to pray for the victims. Religious groups are also playing a major role in relief efforts.

Local congregations packed churches throughout the area Sunday. A prayer vigil took place at the Rehoboth World Outreach Center Sunday evening for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. In addition to offering up prayers, organizers of the event had the single goal of raising a lot of money for quake relief efforts.

Different congregations from around Vallejo came together for the prayer vigil and with the small Haitian population in the Bay Area, understandably, there are not many Haitian immigrants who belong to these congregations, but the ties to Haiti run very deep for the worshipers there.

Many have spent decades doing missionary work in the country making regular trips to the island nation. They, and the handful of Haitian immigrants who are members of these churches, have been watching footage of the quake from afar hoping their friends and relatives are alive.

"We all prayed for Haiti and today we have come again to pray for Haiti, and to encourage the people of Vallejo, the churches of Vallejo, to give to Haiti. We are looking for money. That is what the need is," said Pastor Terrence Nichols of New Hope Church.

"I'm hoping that now, that all eyes will be on Haiti and I'm hoping that now hopefully everybody can get together and try to rebuild this country," Haiti native Roger Jean said.

There were prayers said for the victims of the Haiti quake all around the Bay Area. At St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, parishioners lit candles to remember the thousands who have died. 80 percent of Haiti's population is Catholic and during masses Sunday morning, the archdiocese of San Francisco made a direct appeal to Catholics to donate to relief efforts.

Worshipers also sang and said special prayers for Haiti at Oakland's Allen Temple Baptist Church and Congresswoman Barbara Lee also spoke about the dire situation.

A number of Haitian immigrants at the Rehoboth World Outreach Center told heart-wrenching stories Sunday about spending days trying to track down their family members in Haiti after, but thankfully they all have happy endings. They had all heard from their family members who say they are safe and sound.