[ACNS] The presiding bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church has called for prayer for the people of Ecuador following last weekend’s devastating earthquake which has so far claimed the lives of 570 people. A further 155 remain missing; and 7,015 others are known to be injured. Almost 25,000 people are currently living in emergency shelters following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck on Saturday (16 April 16).
The Anglican Church in Ecuador is part of the Episcopal Church, which has two dioceses in the country: Litoral Ecuador, led by Bishop Alfredo Morante; and Central Ecuador, led by Bishop Victor Scantlebury.
In a message to the people of Ecuador, Bishop Curry said: “My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Please know that your brothers and sisters throughout the Episcopal Church are praying for you. We will be with you during this time and in the days ahead. You are not alone. May the love of God embrace and strength you.”
Bishop Alfredo described the earthquake as “an unforgettable experience in which we feared for our lives and the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of the members of our faith community.”
“we would like to express our deep gratitude for the messages of affection and prayers we have received for our Diocese and our country during this very difficult time,” he said in a message to the Episcopal News Service. “We have clung with deep fervour to the protective hand of our God.
“While seeing images in the newspapers and social networks, I just think about the suffering of our compatriots. I pray for comfort and solidarity for all those who have lost loved ones, that God would also encourage them and restore them in His infinite mercy and goodness.”
Bishop Alfredo explained that the coastal areas were the larges affected areas, with “considerable damage to its infrastructure, loss of life, and a large number of people are injured and missing.
“One of the most affected areas by the earthquake are the cities of Manta and Portoviejo and the town of La Pila, where our church has a presence. We are getting reports that 48 church members’ homes are completely or partially destroyed and three churches have considerable damage in their physical structure. Fortunately, there was no loss of life among our members, but there are some with bruises and physical and psychological trauma.
“The community is already engaged because there are basic needs of drinking water, food, medicine, first-aid kits, and basic tools. In general, all the elements needed for rescue efforts.
“There are many victims that require our attention. We will seek ways to send help although the roads have been affected. With the help of the National Police or other government agency we will find a way to reach those who need it the most.”
In Canada, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has allocated an initial grant of $15,000 (CAD, approximately £8,234 GBP) towards the relief efforts of the ACT Alliance, which brings together a number of Christian based relief and development agencies. Act Alliance member, the Latin American Council of Churches, was already active in the area prior to the earthquake and is coordinating its efforts with the Ecuadorian government and UN agencies.
They are being supported by other ACT Alliance members, including the Lutheran World Federation and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.
One of those to survive the earthquake was the Revd Hernan Astudillo from San Lorenzo Anglican Church in Canada. The Ecuador-born priest had returned to his homeland on 28 March for a speaking tour. He had previously led aid delivery programmes to other earthquake hit Latin-American countries, but this was the first time he experienced one first hand.
According to Inside Toronto, the priest was writing a letter in his hotel room when the earthquake struck. He survived but injured his leg has he helped a young family to safety.
“I thought, this is it, it will stop,” Father Hernan told Inside Toronto, “but [the shaking] was getting stronger and stronger. . .Everything was dark, people were crying. We miraculously survived.”
A group of 18 students and two teachers from the St Mary’s Diocesan School for girls in Pretoria, who were visiting Ecuador as part of a World Challenge Team expedition, also survived, according to the Pretoria East Rekord.
The school party left Ecuador for the Galapagos on Monday and were due to return to South Africa today (Friday).