Hurricane

Florida landmark church pledges to match $50,000 to Bahamas relief efforts

Bahamas Prime Minister describes scale of devastation on Abaco Islands

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis spoke about the amount of devastation on Abaco Islands at a press conference in Nassau on Sept. 3, 2019.
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Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis spoke about the amount of devastation on Abaco Islands at a press conference in Nassau on Sept. 3, 2019.

The call for help in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian is being answered by local governments, businesses, nonprofits, schools, religious institutions and individuals, including in South Florida.

The aid is coming in droves — by air and water. Some are hosting search-and-rescue missions; others are collecting necessary supplies and funds for the victims.

For the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, the goal is to raise $50,000 to send to the Bishop of the Bahamas.

Bethesda-by-the-Sea, a 130-year-old landmark church at 141 South County Road in Palm Beach, is promising to match it.

“We knew we had to help as soon as we saw the storm over the Bahamas,” Rev. James Harlan said.

The Vestry, the church’s board of directors, voted in an emergency session Thursday to “help Bishop Eaton raise the funds he is seeking by pledging to match the first $50,000 given from throughout the Diocese toward this appeal,” according to a letter sent to the parish community.

“With this matching gift, our Diocese will be able to send at least $100,000 to the Bahamas to help meet immediate needs.”

This gift will come from the Church Mouse, which Harlan said is a community-based resale shop the church oversees. The shop sells donated items and uses the money to fund outreach programs.

But, those funds aren’t reserved only for those “around the corner” in need, Harlan said, “but also the world.”

The church was unscathed by Hurricane Dorian when it passed near Florida’s east coast, but it wasn’t long ago when it was facing its own natural disaster. Early last month, the church was collecting donations to help cover more than $100,000 in repairs after the church’s electrical system was extensively damaged twice by lightning.

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Harlan said the Church Mouse wasn’t used to help cushion the pricey repairs because those funds are to serve people during emergencies, not the church.

In the long run, the church hopes to have two funds, one to help the church recover quicker from unexpected costs like lightning strikes and their outreach reserve fund to help others. But, for now, Harlan is asking for people to help the Bahamas however they can.

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The funds the diocese is collecting will not go to a specific need. Instead, they will be sent to the Bishop in the Bahamas for distribution.

“Our immediate action will allow him direct critical help to individuals and families in the Abacos and Grand Bahama. The Bishop and his colleagues can reach people at this point in ways that no one or no other agency can, and our response will enable him to reach out with practical and life-saving help,” Bishop Peter Eaton said last week in an appeal.

Those interested in donating to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts through Bethesda-by-the-Sea can visit bbts.org or go directly through the diocese at diosef.org. You can also inquire at your local church about their donation procedure.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
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