|Special Hurricane Katrina offering planned Aug. 26|
Volunteers from Christ Church United Methodist in New York
repair a roof damaged by winds from Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, Miss.
United Methodist churches will collect a special offering on Aug. 26 for
the Katrina Church Recovery Appeal.
UMNS file photos by Mike DuBose.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Aug. 20, 2007
WANTED: People with sturdy spirits, loving hands and bountiful prayers
to rebuild lives, homes and churches on the Gulf Coast. Jobs available
for the next 20 years. Rewards reaped in heaven.
As the second anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita approaches,
the need continues for prayers, volunteers, partners and donations in
Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The recovery stage has evolved into
the rebuilding stage in most areas, though some places in New Orleans
have been untouched since Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005.
United Methodist churches will collect a special offering Aug. 26 for
the Katrina Church Recovery Appeal. Donations go directly to the
rebuilding of United Methodist churches, parsonages and other facilities
as well as to salaries for support staff; training for lay leadership;
and efforts to grow congregations where membership has declined.
Ken Ward (left) and Dale Kimball say
people like Leona Cousins, 95, are the reason they have
worked long hours six days a week to help rebuild homes damaged by
New resources to help tell the story of rebuilding and recovery are available at http://www.umc.org/katrina.
"We have been able to reopen churches that were totally devastated
and that was made possible only because of the gifts of the people of
the church," said Bishop William Hutchinson, Louisiana Annual (regional)
Conference. "At the same time, major parts of the city of New Orleans
and surrounding area have not been touched and still need basic
A reason to celebrate
A special "New Orleans-style" celebration will be held Sept. 6-7 in
New Orleans to say thank you to volunteers of the past, present and
future - giving their time, money and prayers.
"At this point in the recovery process, we are deeply involved in
casework management. Families continue to need help and we continue to
need skilled construction teams who are willing to volunteer in this
ministry," said Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster, Alabama-West Florida Annual
(regional) Conference. "Our prayers are that all those affected by this
tragedy will see the love of Christ in our work."
"As we approach hurricane season on the Gulf Coast, we remember what
wind and water can do as we press onward to rebuild homes, churches,
schools, communities. Your partnership is essential," said Bishop Hope
Morgan Ward, Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference.
One extraordinary example of Christian mission and volunteerism is a
group of retired lay people from First United Methodist Church,
Victoria, Texas, who were making their fifth trip to New Orleans this
spring. They were helping the Rev. Helena Wright-Butler rebuild her
house while the retired United Methodist pastor lives in a small white
"It has been difficult but it has increased my faith," said Butler as
she watched volunteers put insulation between the studs of her walls.
"It helps to see people here. They could have turned their backs and
said, 'Hey it didn't happen to me!' but they were willing to give of
themselves, give of their finances and love. It makes it all
Sue Bymul (front) works
with other members of her volunteer team to remove a handrail prior to tearing out the walls in a Biloxi home.
At this year's annual (regional) conferences, Texas, Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama-West Florida reported the contributions that
volunteers have made to each area:
Texas (hit by Hurricane Rita) hosted 4,401 volunteers serving 4,304 individuals;
Louisiana (Katrina and Rita) hosted 26,156 volunteers serving 14,955 individuals;
Mississippi (Katrina) hosted 30,500 volunteers serving 5,265 individuals;
Alabama-West Florida (Ivan, Dennis and Katrina) hosted 2,590 volunteers serving 475 individuals.
Louisiana also helped nearly 15,000 people during the relief stage of
the storm, bringing the total number of people served there to about
30,000. Volunteers came from 42 states, two foreign countries and 60
United Methodist annual conferences.
Mississippi helped more than 12,000 people during the relief stage of
the storm, bringing its total to more than 17,000 people served.
As the work continues, ministries assisting in the rebuilding efforts
need teams with at least one skilled laborer who can hang Sheetrock,
install roofs and wire homes for electricity, according to Chris Bower,
conference resource coordinator for the Mississippi Annual Conference.
"There is still tons of work to do," Bower said.
People can make contributions to the Katrina Church Recovery Appeal #818-001 through local church offerings or online through http://www.umc.org/katrina.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Louisiana Annual Conference
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