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Chilean partners/MC Canada connect quickly after quake
- Mennonite Church Canada accepting donations

   
 

man with goatee standing on a bus
Omar Cortés Gaibur, Mennonite Church Canada Witness Associate in Santiago

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man seated at a table, jesturing with open arms
Carlos Gallardo, Pastor of Puerta del Rebaño and 2006 participant in Mennonite Church Canada’s IMPaCT program in Wpg.. Gallardo resides in the hard hit Concepción area. MC Canada has not made direct contact with him.


man in a blue shirt, leanin back and smiling
Samuel Tripainao, Mennonite Pastor and 2009 IMPaCT participant in Sask., resides in the Santiago area. He visited the Mennonite Church Canada offices in Wpg., in Jan., 2010.

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young woman in a black and yellow horizontaly striped wind breaker
Mariana Álvarez, UBACH Pastor and 2009 IMPaCT participant in Sask., resides in the Santiago area.

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woman speaking at a podium, jesturing with her hands, with the words "UBaCH: Union of Evangelical Baptists of Chile" in the background
Raquel Contreras, President of the Union of Baptists in Chile, addressed the delegates of Mennonite Church Canada at its assembly in Wpg. 2009. Her family resides in the Concepción area. Contreras reported from her travels in the USA at the time of the quake that her family has reportedly survived, but there is substantial damage to homes and buildings.

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March 2, 2010
- Dan Dyck

Wpg., Man. — Mennonite Church Canada is inviting donations for earthquake relief efforts in Chile.

Within minutes of hearing news reports about the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile on February 27, Tim Froese had sent an email alert to all Mennonite Church Canada staff.

Froese, Executive Director of International Ministries for Mennonite Church Canada, just happened to be checking the news – and then quickly checked his email, revealing the first of several messages that would reach him from ministry contacts in Chile. Mennonite Church Canada relates to three distinct groups of Anabaptists and Mennonites in Chile: the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Chile (UBACH), a large denomination of 35,000 members across the country, the Evangelical Mennonite Church, with 900 members in 12 congregations, and the Puerta del Rebaño congregation in Concepción.

By Monday, March 1, Froese was in multiple phone conversations with partners Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Mennonite Mission Network, and UBACH to discern how best to assist in a coordinated relief effort. By then, he had received updates from eight individuals, but none from the hardest hit area in Concepcion – Chile’s second largest city – have yet responded.

Mennonite Church Canada’s response to the Chile earthquake will be supported in part by funds from Mennonite Central Committee. MCC does not have program or personnel in Chile. Mennonite Church Canada also invites donations for "Chile relief."
 
Initial reports suggest that the coastal town of Lota about 30 km south of Concepción – and the location of one Mennonite Church – has experienced significant damage from the quake and a resulting tsunami. Lota, with a population of about 45,000, is reportedly one of the poorest cities in Chile. BBC reports say there has been looting, rioting, and a mob attack on a fuel station there. Police forces report shootings and killings in the region.

Omar Cortés Gaibur, Mennonite Church Canada Witness Associate who coordinates leadership training and congregational resourcing through the joint Baptist/Mennonite ministry of Cercapaz in Santiago is well and is working diligently to assist his contacts in the Baptist denomination in Chile.

Carlos Gallardo, a participant in Mennonite Church Canada’s 2006 IMPaCT program and a Chilean Pastor serving two congregations in the Concepción area, could not be reached. Second hand information suggests he and his wife Monica have survived. Gallardo has a home on the coast. Reports of flooding from waves and a possible tsunami in coastal areas suggest water damage in addition to structural destruction. IMPaCT is an annual event that connects Canadian Mennonite pastors with their international counterparts. Gallardo has been connected with Mennonites in Canada since the late 1980s, when he met Titus and Karen Guenther, mission workers with the Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Church Canada.

Samuel Tripainao, a 2009 IMPaCT participant from the Mennonite church in Santiago – was the first to contact Froese from his home in the damaged but less hard hit region of Santiago city. On Feb. 27, he wrote, “"It is now 1:18 p.m. and the electrical power is slowly coming back. Water pressure has not been restored. The aftershocks are continuing… Here in our church there is no news of injury, thanks to God. We were just startled. We have no contact with the other congregations but hope to have information shortly.” (translated from Spanish by Tim Froese.) Baptist pastor Mariana Álvarez, another 2009 IMPaCT participant also from Santiago, reported that she was well and assisting her congregation and family.

Raquel Contreras, President of the Union of Baptist Churches in Chile (UBACH), reported from travels in the USA that her family in Concepción is reported to have survived, but has suffered significant damage to homes and buildings. Contreras visited the Mennonite Church Canada annual assembly in Wpg.. in 2008, seeking a stronger relationship with a peace church. UBACH’s is working to recover to its original vision of being an Anabaptist peace church and connected with Mennonite Church Canada as a result.

For photos of the affected are see the CBC web site at http://tinyurl.com/yh3jpcg or the CBS web site at http://tinyurl.com/yl9a8tf.

Donate to Chile Relief