As church recovers, pastor sees expanded ministry role
Aug. 28, 2006
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Rev. Gene Faurie adjusts a makeshift display built from the remains of
the altar of Buras (La.) Trinity United Methodist Church.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
BURAS, La. (UMNS) — The harshest winds from Hurricane Katrina first hit
a remote community on the tip of the Louisiana coast destroying most of the town,
including Buras Trinity United Methodist Church.
Buras was once a beautiful coastal town located near Empire, touted as one
of the top three fishing spots in the world. Now, groves of gray, dying trees
line the lonely highway and FEMA trailer villages are scattered among the slabs
and splinters of former houses.
“If it wasn’t for the weeds, nothing would be green,” says
Debbie Faurie, wistfully. She and her husband, the Rev. Gene Faurie, pastor
of Buras Trinity, lost their home and all their possessions in the storm.
“People say Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane when it hit. Down in
Buras, we know it was stronger than that,” Gene says.
About 60 to 70 members of the Buras congregation drive from various parts
of the state to meet in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, Gretna,
on Sunday nights. Gene says he used to have an attendance of about 240 on Sundays.
Most of the members were young families with children. With nothing left for
them in Buras, many have moved, he says.
Almost single-handedly, Gene is tearing down and cleaning out the remains
of his brick and frame church. Most days he and Debbie drive out to the church
and work. Unlike churches in many other parts of the state, Trinity has received
only two volunteer teams since the storm hit Aug. 29, 2005.
He says he would love to get some volunteer teams in Buras. He would also
like money to buy new tools.
“I am wearing out all of mine,” he
A former contractor, Gene dreams of turning the shell of his church into a
shelter to house teams of volunteers.
“I can see a kitchen (and) bathrooms with showers, and the old fellowship
hall can be an open-air pavilion,” he says, pointing to a large room
missing most of its roof and a wall. The couple has been living in a trailer
provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the storm. The Fauries
laugh when asked what it’s like to live in an 8-by-30 foot trailer.
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Rev. Gene Faurie and his wife, Debbie, can't decide where the bedroom
of their former home was located before Hurricane Katrina struck.
“When we applied for a trailer, I asked for a slide-out,” Gene
says. Slide-outs expand the living space while still keeping the home within
widths needed for towing.
“I told them I needed extra space because I was going to have to have
a church office in the trailer. Well, somebody else got our slide-out,” he
He smiles and turns to Debbie. “I tell her the trailer we wanted is
probably saving somebody’s marriage,” he says. “We get along
Gene wants to use the insurance money from the church and parsonage to build
the church in a new location. He says he and Debbie can live in a camper on
the slab of their old home.
It was really hard at first,” he says, standing on the cracked concrete
slab of his former home. He shakes his head.
“God will take this and do wonderful things,” he says. “I
want to be part of it.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or