This article was written by Neil Allen, a Vermont Standard Correspondent, and originally published in the Vermont Standard on Thursday, February 21, 2019 (Vol.166-No.8) and features Rev. Christian Huebner, pastor of Brownsville Community Church and New Hope Anglican Church, Newport.
BROWNSVILLE — Members of a young church in Saint-Louis-du-Nord, Haiti, will soon have many more choir robes and stoles thanks to a growing community at the Brownsville Community Church (BCC) in Brownsville.
“The church has been growing in the last few years,” said Linda Ley, a member of BCC since 2001 and in charge of marketing and communications for the parish. “We’ve started a lot of new programs and missions. To that end, we knew that we needed to repurpose a lot of things at BCC that have not been used for years to make room moving forward.”
The church had discovered a number of old choir robes and stoles, which they had stopped using many years ago, as well as bibles, hymnals and special documents. Three of the hymnals that date back to the first decade of the 1900s, a very old bible and the documents went to the Windsor Historical Society, according to Ley. “We gave them to the historical society for safe keeping and for the community to enjoy,” Ley said.
BCC Pastor Christian Huebner hadn’t been surprised by what they found. “We knew the robes and hymnals were there,” Huebner said. “Instead of taking them to the dump, we wanted to see if we could find someone who had a need for them. We knew they were things that you can’t always find someone to bless them with.”
Ley placed a classified ad on the United Methodist Church New England Conference website and sent out emails to various institutions that they thought could use them. Some of the hymnals went to Cedar Hill Continu- ing Care Community for the residents to be able to use. Many of the hymnals were given to the Mid Vermont Christian School in Quechee. “The director wants to teach the kids how to read from the hymnals,” Ley said.
They still had the problemof what to do with the robes. “It was sad to think about discarding the robes,” said Ley. “They’re not something you could donate to LISTEN or that anyone could wear to bed or around the house. You don’t wear them outside. They’re only used by a choir.”
In mid-January, BCC received an email from Micheline St. Julien, a missionary living in Florida, inquiring about the robes, said Ley. “Someone saw the ad and told her about the robes, and then she wrote to us,” Ley said. “She said they were looking for robes for their choir with about 50 members.”
Micheline and her husband, Paul, are missionaries to a church in Haiti called Mount of Olives (MOO) in Saint-Louis-du-Nord, which is located on the northern shore of Haiti. The city had 147,000 people in 2015. Micheline, who travels to Haiti two or three times a year, started building the church in 2004 with her own funds but didn’t become a church member until 2010, according to the letter sent to the BCC. The non-denominational church is small with about 100 people made up of children and young people, Micheline related. Ley felt a connection with the two churches in the youthfulness of the church in Haiti and the growth of the BCC with many new young families with children.
“My husband and I watched as our church dwindled in the number of worshipers through natural attrition,” Ley said. “When our church was falling apart six years ago, I prayed so hard that young people would come to the church. Now we revel at our church’s growth both in the size and the age diversity of our congregation. Children are the future. They’re going to be the ones carrying the mantle. You hope they will be educated in school but also in morals and doing what is right. To know that someone in Haiti is doing that is great.”
The Haitian church has a committee of six people to help meet the spiritual and physical nurturing of the people who worship at MOO. In addition to building the church, the missionaries have helped those in Saint-Louis-du-Nord in other ways. “As you and I know, Haiti has lots of needs,” Micheline wrote in her letter to the BCC. “One cannot only just present the gospel and leave. In this regard, we build shelter for those without home, we help paying school for some, help in building roads, in establishing security or police to guard the area if it were the time of the biblical Judges we would have been a Samson or Deborah in the area.”
After several correspondences back and forth, the BCC agreed to send the robes to St. Julien and pay for the shipping. “I’m excited to have connected with them and not to have taken them to the swap shop or dump,” said Huebner.
The robes are in Florida and waiting to be taken to Haiti. “They’ve been shipped and [Micheline] will be tak- ing them down on her next trip to Haiti,” said Ley. “I’m not sure if I believe in miracles but donating to them was just perfect. Sending robes to a poor church in Haiti makes you feel good. It is amazing that she found us, and we could send the robes to them.”
Huebner is happy with the outcome. “I’m glad we were able to send the robes along,” Huebner said. “We believe the body of Christ is a worldwide body—whether close by or far away. I’m excited that the robes are going to be worn by people who are excited about Jesus.” Ley is happy with the outcome as well. “It is a huge deal for our little church in little Brownsville,” Ley continued. “We feel pretty darn good about it.”
For more information about MOO and their current needs, please visit montdeo- liviersleglisededieu.com.