Chris Markert’s voice wavered when he read from Jeremiah during a Wednesday evening service of healing for victims of Hurricane Katrina: “I will restore your fortunes and gather you again from ... all the places to which I have banished you ... into exile.” The service was held at Faith Lutheran Church, Bellaire, Texas, more than 350 miles from House of Prayer Lutheran, Harvey, La., the congregation where Markert is pastor.
|Reunited for a service of healing held Wednesday evening at Faith Lutheran Church, Bellaire, Texas, are four members of House of Prayer Lutheran Church, Harvey, La.: (from left) Jim and Maureen Vincent, Sandra Monroy and Chris Markert, pastor.|
Markert, who has served House of Prayer two years, said the building sustained severe damage, with part of its roof caved in and considerable flooding. His home and the neighborhood around the church are uninhabitable. He added he doesn’t know what the future will hold for House of Prayer, which already was in redevelopment, struggling to make a comeback. He believes the disaster may be “an opportunity to re-look at Lutheran ministry in southeast Louisiana.”
Meanwhile, the pastor is ministering to members of the congregation who took refuge in the Houston area, including Maureen and Jim Vincent and Sandra Monroy who participated in the healing service. The Vincents don’t know what the future holds for them. A research associate at the Louisiana State University Medical Center, Maureen Vincent now has no job because her office is in the midst of flooded downtown New Orleans. Jim Vincent, a mechanical designer, has been unemployed but believes he won’t be able to get work when the rebuilding effort in the city begins. Both want to return to New Orleans, but right now there is nothing to go back to.
In the meantime, they have been “adopted” by astronaut Joseph Tanner and his wife, Martha, members of University Baptist, Clear Lake, Texas, the home of NASA. “They took us in along with our dog and two cats,” said Maureen Vincent.
Faith’s pastor, Herb Palmer led the service of healing with Bishop Paul Blom, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, and Marcus Otterstad, pastor of House of Prayer, Houston.