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Hurricane Katrina: Congregations in peril, pastors in need

There aren’t many ELCA congregations that took a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina—10 in Louisiana and two in Mississippi. But the devastation in terms of property destroyed and lives disrupted, perhaps even lost, defies counting. “New Orleans is basically a city destroyed and the recovery will be long term,” said Bishop Paul Blom, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.

Seven Louisiana congregations suffered extensive damage, including flooding: Bethlehem and Grace, New Orleans; Gethsemane, Chalmette; Hosanna, Covington; Christ the King, Kenner; St. Mark, Metairie; and Peace, Slidell. Three others, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, were spared flooding but not storm damage: Good Shepherd, Marrero; House of Prayer, Harvey; and Love, Algiers.

Blom gathered leaders from some of these congregations at the synod office in Houston Sept. 2 to plan for their support. “It will be quite some time before they will have income again. It will be some time before they can return to assess the damage to their own homes and the congregation sites too,” he said.

He is asking congregations across the ELCA to become sponsors for the pastors and AIMS who may have lost both church buildings and homes. “If we can help meet their daily needs,” Blom said, “it will help them to be able to serve their own folks as that begins to happen.” Contributions marked “Bishop’s Discretionary Fund” may be sent to the office: 12707 N. Freeway, Ste. 580, Houston, TX 77060. For more information, go to www.gulfcoastsynod.org. Blom stressed this is just a first step in meeting the immediate needs, saying, “Lutheran Disaster Response is the agency that can be used for the bigger picture. We’ll join LDR for the next phases as we are able.”

The Southeastern Synod reports that two Mississippi congregations suffered extensive damage: Christus Victor, Ocean Springs; and Grace, Long Beach, where the home of Barbara Hunter, pastor, was leveled. For more information, go to www.elca-ses.org.


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