HAITI: Architect for Port-au-Prince cathedral announced

Posted Dec 12, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti announce the selection of Kerns Group Architects, P.C., of Arlington, Virginia, as architect of the new Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Diocese of Haiti).

On Jan. 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people, seriously injuring more than 250,000, and leaving 1.3 million homeless. An extensive number of private and public buildings were destroyed including Holy Trinity Cathedral and the affiliated Episcopal institutions in the Cathedral Complex in Port-au-Prince.

The Project Team made its recommendation following a yearlong strategic process. The members of the project team are diocese of Haiti officials: Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin; Sikhumbuzo Vundla, chief of operations; the Rev. Joseph Constant, special coordinator; and the Rev. John Runkle, RA, consulting project manager.

“Faced with the enormity of rebuilding most of its churches, schools and other structures throughout the earthquake ravaged region, the Diocese of Haiti decided to concentrate its initial efforts on rebuilding Holy Trinity Cathedral as a prominent landmark of God’s abiding presence with the Haitian people and the church’s commitment to serve them,” Duracin said. “The new cathedral will be a beacon of hope to all who suffer.”

“The project team agreed Kerns Group is the architectural firm that will best embody the vision for a new Cathedral that reflects the history and culture of the Haitian people,” said Constant. “Kerns Group bring years of extensive experience designing new churches, including a number of notable Episcopal Churches, throughout much of the United States. And with the Episcopal Church, they also share a profound sense of mission to the people of Haiti that will result in a cathedral unique to the church there.”

“This marks an important milestone in the effort to rebuild our church in Haiti,” said Bishop Stacy Sauls, Episcopal Church chief operating officer. “It has come about because of the hard work of many people from the Diocese of Haiti, the Church Center, and beyond. It has come about in no small part due to the generosity of thousands of Episcopalians from across our church who have given to rebuild the Holy Trinity Cathedral. I want to especially thank Albert E. Phillips and Laura Thomas of the Atlanta law firm of Cohen, Pollock, Merlin & Small for their tireless dedication and extreme generosity in getting us to this point.”

The new cathedral will be designed to respect and celebrate the characteristics of the Episcopal Church in Haiti, the Haitian people and their culture. The worship space will be larger than the previous cathedral and will provide the flexibility to accommodate larger congregations. It will incorporate the three, surviving, world-renowned, painted murals, of the original 14 that adorned the interior of the destroyed cathedral. Its structure will comply with international seismic and hurricane building code standards. The building will be constructed to serve as a place of refuge in the event of future emergency situations.

For more information on supporting the fundraising effort here.


Comments (6)

  1. Thomas R. Martin says:

    Haiti is is an area prone to both earthquakes and hurricanes. The Designers should review the standards for buildings in southern California and southern Florida as part of the design process.


  2. Fr. Jay Pierce says:

    There’s an argument in opposition to the design and construction of a cathedral in Port-au-prince. It simply objects to the investment of ??? millions of dollars for the recreation of an example of the Episcopal Church style. In stead of bricks and mortar the argument supposes donations to the “historic correctness” of the beauty of the institution that the funds be invested in agriculture, industrial and small business capital for the growing of the economy and culture. The church is not the building … it is the service to the people that the church provides that sets it aside from the ordinary. That service illustrates the presence of God’s salvation here and now. Feed the hungry, treat the sick and relive the oppression of poverty and ignorance–than the people of Haiti will understand through participation the meaning of the Kingdom of God.

  3. Peter Rice says:

    Fr. Jay has an important point, but I fear it is lost to the decision makers in Haiti. Fr. Jay has a modern approach to ministry – focused on the mission to the people and not on appearance. But the church in Haiti, in my experience, is focused on medieval methods of evangelism, where the building of a large church was enough to bring the populace into the fold. Haitians are well aware of “bondie” but not of His word or teachings. What brings them in is attention to their needs – food, education, health care, etc.. It amazes me that the American church has gotten behind the plan put forward by the Haitian church when they well understand what really works.

  4. Dan Tootle says:

    Schools first! The hope of the Haitian people, our brothers and sisters in Christ, is in their children. Historically the Diocese has not adequately supported the schools outside of the Capitol region. Those schools are supported largely by U.S. Episcopal partner schools and parishes in combination with local parents. Build the new Cathedral AFTER the schools are restored and an adequate ongoing support structure within the Diocese has been established and funded for the more than 250 Haitian Episcopal schools.

  5. Jacquelyn Williams says:

    Please, decent housing for those still in tents, then schools, THEN a fine new cathedral.

  6. Louis Towson says:

    To everything there is a season:

    A time to build a cathedral and a time to build homes and businesses;

    A time for the Christian community to gather for worship, sacrament, learning, and fellowship, and a time for that community to go forth to serve by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and empowering the weak to become strong;

    A time to lift up art and encourage artistic expression, and a time to enjoy the results as we see the myriad ways people grow intellectually and spiritually as the community blossoms in so many surprising ways.
    The rabbis of old times had an expression: “Where there is no wine, there is no joy.”

    Where there is no good architecture, no profound storytelling, no drawing or painting, no good music, no drama, no good design, you have no imagination, no creative problem solving, no three dimensional understanding of new learning, and no powerful spirituality.

    It is not a question of either/or but of both/and. A great cathedral facility under responsible leadership will not detract from ministry but become the Lord’s instrument to energize and continually enhance it. It is not of secondary importance in the scheme of things, it is primary.

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