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Hartzell Mt. Zion United Methodist Church slowly recovering

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A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Lionel Jackson sings a solo at Hartzell Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.
Nov. 2, 2005

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

SLIDELL, La. (UMNS) — When it came time for announcements at Hartzell Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, Charles Alfred stood up and asked for volunteers and two trucks to go pick up a piano and organ being donated to the church from a Jewish community in Monroe, La.

The Rev. Ernest Scott told the congregation that a church in Fort Wayne, Ind., was donating United Methodist hymnals and “a few Bibles.” Someone else announced $1,000 had been donated to put insulation in the walls.

Slowly but surely, Hartzell Mt. Zion United Methodist Church is recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

A month ago, the congregation was meeting in lawn chairs in the parking lot. Everyone was back indoors on Sunday, Oct. 30, even though most of the inside of the building is still missing.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

The Rev. Ernest Scott makes a phone call from his office before Oct. 30 worship service at Hartzell Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.
“This is our second Sunday back in our church,” Scott said. “God is in the remaking and rebuilding business.”

The congregation was sitting comfortably in blue upholstered chairs, surrounded by studs, tar paper and blue tarp. The carpet is gone and the floor is still a little sticky in some spots, but the mold and mildew is gone and the stain-glass windows glisten.

Lionel Jackson sang a solo of “How Great Thou Art” without benefit of musical accompaniment. His song was punctuated with “Yes, Lord!” and voices joining in from the congregation.

“In the midst of all this we can still say ‘How Great Thou Art,’” said Idell Vaultz.

A 30-foot wall of water from Lake Pontchartrain slammed into the small community surrounding Hartzell Mt. Zion in August, soaking all the homes and leaving the people with nothing.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

The congregation of Hartzell Mt. Zion is back in the church two months after Hurricane Katrina hit.
Dora Jackson was celebrating her 78th birthday and the recovery of her church. “My house has been gutted and I am still living with one of my daughters,” she said.

In a sign of recovery yet to come, Anthony Alfred reminded members not to forget about Sunday school. Even though no classrooms are open at this time he said Sunday school and education is vital to the church. “We don’t have a lot of children right now but I want you parents to encourage your children to participate.”

Members have been meeting for the 8 a.m. worship services since the hurricane but they are talking about resuming the 11 a.m. service as well.

The text for the sermon this Sunday was Matthew 23:1-12 and the title was “Humble Living.”

“We will continue to worship here every Sunday,” Scott said.

*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

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2005 Hurricane Response: United Methodist Committee on Relief

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Lionel Jackson: "How Great Thou Art"

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