|Katrina appeal for local churches needs support, bishop says|
The sanctuary of Hartzwell United Methodist
Church in New Orleans shows the impact of Hurricane Katrina, months
after the storm struck.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
A UMNS Report by Linda Bloom*
Nov. 9, 2006
A first-anniversary fundraising appeal to help rebuild churches and
congregations affected by Hurricane Katrina netted more than $2 million,
with additional donations expected.
But that is just a beginning for the Katrina Church Recovery Appeal, sponsored by the United Methodist Council of Bishops.
Bishop William Oden of Dallas, who leads the council's task force on the
Katrina appeal, pointed out that while Katrina was "the worst natural
and man-made tragedy in the history of the United States," the hurricane
also had the most disastrous impact ever on church property, facilities
Drying mud cracks in the parking lot at Coden
(Ala.) United Methodist Church following Hurricane Katrina. A UMNS photo
by Mike DuBose.
"Because there are over 40 churches totally destroyed or severely
damaged, it's going to take up to a decade and maybe as much as $10
million to have mission and ministry along the Gulf Coast," Oden told
United Methodist News Service.
Established a year ago, the Katrina Church Recovery Appeal will help
restore hurricane-damaged United Methodist facilities; pay salaries for
clergy while their congregations cannot do so; establish new
congregations or consolidate existing ones; renew church-based community
ministries such as day-care centers; and provide such worship
necessities as Bibles and hymnals to churches in need.
The need includes churches affected by Hurricane Rita as well as Katrina, all along the Gulf Coast, from East Texas to Alabama.
The denomination's first response after Katrina was for humanitarian aid
through the United Methodist Committee on Relief. "We raised over $60
million right after Katrina for survivor relief," Oden said. "None of
that can be spent on United Methodist property or salaries."
Because of the magnitude of the damage, funding to restore these
properties and pay salaries to clergy is essential. But the affected
church properties along the gulf have had a very low payout from
insurance policies, especially in New Orleans, according to Oden. Flood
insurance policies were not in effect because insurance companies
declared wind to be the primary cause leading to damage, he explained.
Partnerships for recovery
The first-anniversary collections from local churches and conferences
have raised some $2 million for the Katrina Church Recovery Appeal, and
similar anniversary-related fundraising is planned for 2007 and 2008. A
small amount of the money has been used for a video and other
promotional materials, the bishop said, but not for administrative
Another source of assistance through the appeal may come from
partnerships between Gulf Coast churches and the denomination's
large-member congregations around the country. Oden reported that 35
large-church pastors met recently in New Orleans with Bishops William
Hutchinson of Louisiana, Hope Morgan Ward of Mississippi and Larry
Goodpaster of Alabama.
Bishop William B. Oden
"They all unanimously agreed to be a part of such partnerships," he
said. He added that the pastors would extend the involvement to other
churches not represented at the meeting. "We feel in the long run this
will be one of the major ways the Gulf Coast churches can recover."
The funds will be allocated on an ongoing basis. The three bishops and
the bishops' task force on the appeal are "now beginning the process of
distribution from requests of the Gulf Coast conferences," Oden said.
During the recent Council of Bishops' meeting in Mozambique, Hutchinson
reported that the Louisiana Conference already faces a $1.2 million
shortfall for salaries and is in the middle of determining "what we do
and how we do it" in relation to church repairs and reconstruction.
Donations to the Katrina Church Recovery Appeal, No. 818-001, can be made online at www.umc.org/churchrecovery or placed in offering plates in local churches.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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