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Missions conference provides update on Haiti
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2010 World Mission Conference
What: Workshops, music, worship services and exhibits focusing on world missions
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 800 S. Enota Drive, Gainesville
When: Saturday-Sunday
More information: 770-532-0136

Participants in this weekend’s World Mission Conference at First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville will be able to get the latest developments on relief efforts following Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake.

Mary Jo Oliver and Susan Turbeville of the Haiti Educational Foundation are scheduled to speak at workshops Saturday as part of the church’s three-day event.

“They will have a lot of up-to-the-minute information, and I’m sure a lot of people will be interested in it,” said John Hope, conference co-chairman.

The foundation supports 40 elementary and 10 high schools with more than 10,000 children enrolled, as well as a vocational school and 24 high school graduates attending colleges in Port-au-Prince, the area most devastated by the magnitude-7.0 earthquake.

“The years we’ve been doing this conference, Haiti has been a big part of it,” Hope said.

Frances Landers of El Dorado, Ark., started the Haiti Educational Foundation after visiting the island nation in 1981.

“We’ve been helping support her all these years,” Hope said, adding that the earthquake destroyed some of the schools.

First Presbyterian, which has taken up a special offering for Haitian relief, is trying to raise $20,000 for the foundation. In 1999, the church provided money to build a school in Haiti.

Overall, the church is trying to raise $85,500 for various organizations supporting missionary work across the world.

“Our budget had to be cut somewhat because of (the economy),” said Hope, who along with his wife, Carole, event co-chairwoman, have been First Presbyterian members for some 30 years.

This year’s conference, now in its 11th year, will focus on Latin America.

Ben Mathes, president of Rivers of the World, a Dawsonville-based Christian ministry, is the keynote speaker. He plans to talk about evangelistic work under way in South and Central America.

The conference, which is open to the public at no charge, except for lunch, will feature music and exhibits that represent that part of the world.

The event begins Friday with a reception for missionaries and other guests.

Saturday is filled with workshops, but participants also can attend an opening celebration and worship service and view exhibits.

Scheduled speakers on Saturday also include Ebralie Mwizerwa and Mark Papp of The Outreach Foundation, Bill Jones and Scot Stewart of Solid Rock Missions, Jack Spencer of Congo Protestant University and Glen and Beverly Ferguson of Wycliffe Bible Translators/Jungle Aviation Radio Service.

There also will be a presentation by Son Servants, which organizes youth mission trips at the church.

The conference also will support the work of three First Presbyterian Church members now in the mission field — Erin Hartley, who is teaching English in a children’s home in Nicaragua; Stephanie Caldwell, working in India in a ministry for young women; and Cheryl Burke, a missionary/educator and dean of students at Forman Christian College at Lahore, Pakistan.

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