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United Methodist Church publishes commentaries on rebuilding Gulf Coast

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The Rev. Larry Hollon
Oct. 21, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)--The United Methodist Church is urging local people to have a voice in the planning and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast in a paid commentary published Oct. 21 in The Washington Post and several newspapers in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The commentary stated that a “renewed sense of community” came out of the crisis caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when people came together in concern, compassion and generosity. “We pray that this renewed understanding of community will inspire the rebuilding of the devastated areas.”

Besides the Post, the paid commentaries appeared in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and the Baton Rouge Advocate in Louisiana; the Mobile Register in Alabama; and the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald and Jackson Clarion Ledger/Hattiesburg American in Mississippi.

A second commentary is planned for the week of Oct. 24. The commentaries urge commitment to a fair and inclusive process that creates better places for people to live.

“These commentaries are an important part of the church’s mission. As Christians, we stand at the intersection of the concerns of the world and the concerns of the church for the world,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications.

“The rebuilding efforts pose tremendous challenges, but also remarkable opportunities. It’s important to stand with those who are poor and vulnerable and too often forgotten by society,” he said.

United Methodist Communications developed the commentaries, in consultation with bishops of the affected regions, the officers of the Council of Bishops, agency heads, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The first commentary encouraged broad local input and participation in the rebuilding process.

“Involving people from all walks of life in the reconstruction of areas devastated by the hurricanes will provide the insight and creativity to create communities that are stronger and more vital than ever before,” said Jim Winkler, top executive of the denomination’s Board of Church and Society. “Functional cities and neighborhoods will emerge if residents are given a voice in planning and rebuilding.”

Hollon said the commentaries are meant to create discussion.

“Scripture is replete with admonitions for Christians to care for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and those in distress,” he explained. “That includes creating a voice on behalf of marginalized and voiceless persons. We believe God calls us to be a voice for those persons.”

Funding for the advertorials comes from United Methodist Communications’ regular budget and does not come from donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s efforts to assist persons in the affected area, Hollon added.

Contributions to hurricane relief may be made at One hundred percent of donations made through the United Methodist Church on behalf of communities damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be used in the rebuilding effort. To obtain more information and add your voice, visit

News media contact: Stephen Drachler, executive director of public information at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5411 or e-mail

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