By Celucien L. Joseph
As a diasporic immigrant Christian organization, the Haitian-American church should be an institution that uses its influence and resources to develop and strengthen the communities they claim to serve. However, the hard truth is that the Haitian-American church is disengaged with the Haitian experience and life in Haiti. Here are nine ways the Haitian-American church is failing the community.
The Haitian-American church is silent on justice and race relations issues in the American culture that are radically affecting both its parishioners and the black (“ethnic black folk”) and brown American populations.
The Haitian-American church is silent on the socio-economic and political matters that are transforming the lives of its own congregants, the American people, and Christians at large in this culture.
The Haitian-American church turns its back on the poor, the widow, the immigrant, and the economically-disadvantaged population in its midst and beyond its walls.
The Haitian-American church is not missional and incarnational in its outreach; it distances itself from the hurting people in its neighborhoods and closes its doors on the face of the needy and the suffering population in its residential zones.
The Haitian-American church lacks the moral courage and integrity, and the collective conscience and intentionality to be a beacon of light and hope, and a catalyst of human progress and transformation in the American culture.
The Haitian-American church is an institution that does not welcome internal change (“transformation within”) nor does it contribute to external change (“transformation outside”); from this perspective, it is a plateaued, static, and declining institution/church.
The Haitian-American church does not integrate itself in the American society; it is resistant to (America’s) cultural knowledge and proficiency, and it continues to be an institution that remains uninformed of the American way of life, values, and world views.
The Haitian-American church as an “immigrant community of faith” does not participate in protest movements nor socio-political campaigns to demand the protection of the (human) rights and life of undocumented people (even the unlawful Haitian population).
The Haitian-American church is an institution without future legacy and future heritage; it undermines the talents, skills, and cultural knowledge and proficiency of the second generation of Haitian Americans and undermines its youth population, who are the future, soul, and conscience of the next Haitian American church.
Celucien L. Joseph (PhD, University of Texas at Dallas; PhD, University of Pretoria) is Professor of English at Indian River State College. His recent book, Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa (2018), was published by Lexington Books.