Carmel couple raising $65K to help rebuild Belizean church after collapse


Churchgoers worship in a tent in Belize after their building collapsed. (Submitted photo)

By Chris Bavender

A Carmel family is helping raise funds to rebuild a church in Belize’s Lemonal Village. For the last two years, villagers have worshipped in a tent after the church collapsed.

Matt Hayden’s wife, Natalie, and his mother-in-law, Rosamond Perez, are from two neighboring villages in Belize. The couple learned of the villagers’ need after attending Natalie’s grandmother’s funeral in Lemonal Village in February.

Matt and Natalie Hayden of Carmel are working to raise $65,000 to rebuild a church in Belize. (Submitted photo)

“This church (St. Luke’s), which sat next door to my mother-in-law’s birth home, provided Natalie’s family the foundation of Christian faith as well as an education to my mother-in-law,” Matt said. “It truly set the table for the entire family’s faith, education and value systems. Natalie’s uncle, Rev. Constancio Perez, had been resident priest there almost 20 years.”

Matt said St. Luke’s priests continually struggle to provide sacramental services in the tent setting.

“Even an ordinary Sunday, mass is a challenge as people sit down with pouring rain or sweating under the hot Belizean sun, wind blowing out the sacramental candles,” he said. “The regular attendance at mass has dropped by 50 percent in the temporary church and there is no other Christian church accessible to this part of the country.”

A ground-breaking ceremony took place April 15 with road and excavation work starting as well. The completion date depends on when the $65,000 needed for the project is raised.

“They are all for the costs of the building construction and excavation, mostly materials and supplies,” Matt said. “Much labor is donated from villagers.”

Donations for church furnishings such as pews, fans, a PA system and more are needed.

The couple, parents to four children – ages 23, 22, 7 and 5 – has started an online fundraiser to help rebuild the church. Donations can be made at

Donations payable to Friends Supporting the Anglican Diocese Belize (FSADB) can be mailed to 1344 S. Range Line Rd., Suite 201, Carmel. Include St. Luke’s in the memo line.

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