As hurricanes ripped twice across the Texas and Louisiana coasts, church workers sought to stabilize more than 30 ELCA congregations. The immediate focus was on locating rostered leaders of each damaged church.
“The good news is that, as far as we can tell, all our rostered people are safe, temporarily living in places from Texas to Georgia,” says Rob Moore, assistant to the bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. “These people are called to some major ministries of consolation, rebuilding and renewing. The people these leaders serve have lost everything—including their ability to financially support their leaders.”
Following Hurricane Katrina, the synod called upon congregations to sponsor displaced pastors and “adopt” congregations in the region. Several partnerships immediately took off, and more followed after Hurricane Rita struck.
“We’re asking all of the partners to be in prayer for those congregations,” Moore says. “We’ve been asking them to do whatever they can to be an emotional support through phone calls, notes, letters, contacts of a personal type. People are finding ways to say, ‘We’re here with you.’ ”
The partnerships also provide congregations with financial help and supplies, Moore says, while Lutheran Social Services of the South Inc. and Lutheran Disaster Response provide direct aid to residents.
Each partnership is unique because damages and displacements vary widely. Grace Lutheran in New Orleans suffered massive losses as water rose 7 feet inside the church. But at Love Lutheran in the same city, the congregation reported only moderate damage.
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