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Karen L. Willoughby/Baptist Message

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Everything except complain: DR teams embrace their labors

HOUMA, La. (BP) -- Despite humidity levels beyond stifling.... Despite delays in the arrival of food and the insulated Cambros for taking it to American Red Cross distribution sites.... Despite sleeping in less than ideal conditions.... And despite various other inconveniences.... Southern Baptist Disaster Relief-trained volunteers labored, laughed and joked and never once complained -- within earshot of a reporter, at least -- as Hurricane Isaac left southeast Louisiana and moved north. SBDR volunteers -- and church volunteers -- had given up their Labor Day weekend to move into action in Covington, Madisonville, Poydras, New Orleans and Houma. "The eye of the storm was directly over us and hovered over us for 10 hours," said Randall Gill, leader of a chainsaw unit stationed at Coteau Baptist Church in Houma. He's also pastor of Little Caillou Baptist Church in Chauvin. "We had 70 mph sustained winds, and gusts to 110.... "A lot of people are still really distraught, under duress," Gill reported. "When we're talking to people now, we're simply sharing with them that, even in the midst of the storm, the anchor still holds firm because Jesus is our rock. That's what we're sharing when we go out." That's why Joe Arnold, another DR leader who also is director of missions for the local Bayou Baptist Association, wants a chaplain to go out on every work assignment to share God's love with people who are hurting. "This [hurricane recovery] is rekindling a lot of relationships for us from Katrina," Arnold said. "We're seeing very little resistance in an area that's 90 percent Catholic." James Irvine, a DR-trained chaplain and member of Pine Ridge Baptist Church in Melder, La., sat reading his Bible between assignments in Houma. "I'm just trying to learn more," Irvine said. "The more I know, the more I can share."

Everything except complain: DR teams embrace their labors

HOUMA, La. (BP) -- Despite humidity levels beyond stifling.... Despite delays in the arrival of food and the insulated Cambros for taking it to American Red Cross distribution sites.... Despite sleeping in less than ideal conditions.... And despite various other inconveniences.... Southern Baptist Disaster Relief-trained volunteers labored, laughed and joked and never once complained -- within earshot of a reporter, at least -- as Hurricane Isaac left southeast Louisiana and moved north. SBDR volunteers -- and church volunteers -- had given up their Labor Day weekend to move into action in Covington, Madisonville, Poydras, New Orleans and Houma. "The eye of the storm was directly over us and hovered over us for 10 hours," said Randall Gill, leader of a chainsaw unit stationed at Coteau Baptist Church in Houma. He's also pastor of Little Caillou Baptist Church in Chauvin. "We had 70 mph sustained winds, and gusts to 110.... "A lot of people are still really distraught, under duress," Gill reported. "When we're talking to people now, we're simply sharing with them that, even in the midst of the storm, the anchor still holds firm because Jesus is our rock. That's what we're sharing when we go out." That's why Joe Arnold, another DR leader who also is director of missions for the local Bayou Baptist Association, wants a chaplain to go out on every work assignment to share God's love with people who are hurting. "This [hurricane recovery] is rekindling a lot of relationships for us from Katrina," Arnold said. "We're seeing very little resistance in an area that's 90 percent Catholic." James Irvine, a DR-trained chaplain and member of Pine Ridge Baptist Church in Melder, La., sat reading his Bible between assignments in Houma. "I'm just trying to learn more," Irvine said. "The more I know, the more I can share."

At college’s centennial, former president heralds public service

PINEVILLE, La. (BP)--Evoking the “kinder and gentler” phrase that identified his presidency, former President George H.W. Bush spoke at the centennial celebration of Louisiana College Oct. 26 about the things that matter in life.

Katrina-ravaged church gives $200,000 to other congregations

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Port Sulphur Baptist Church in Louisiana - its former building rendered a metal shell by Hurricane Katrina - nevertheless is helping 20 other New Orleans-area churches recover from Hurricane Katrina's impact. Photo by Keith Manuel
NEW ORLEANS (BP)--First Baptist Church in Covington, La., distributed $10,000 checks to 20 churches in greater New Orleans in mid-October.
      First Baptist members raised the $200,000 by adding 10 percent to their tithes and offerings each week over the last year; if someone planned to give $40, they wrote the check for $44. The extra gifts went to a special fund.
      “Our church has been tremendously blessed, and that’s why we want to give,” said Waylon Bailey, pastor since 1989 of the church where about 1,600 people gather each Sunday to worship.
      The checks are going to churches that are striving to thrive despite the devastation wrought by last year’s hurricanes, the pastor said.

From New Orleans, Fred Luter leads scattered congregation

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Franklin Avenue Baptist Church associate pastor Titus White receives a hug after morning worship at the hurricane-battered congregation’s temporary home at First Baptist Church in New Orleans on Sunday mornings at 7:30. Photo by James Edward Bates
NEW ORLEANS (BP)--The 1,300 or more members of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church who meet at 7:30 a.m. each Sunday at First Baptist Church in New Orleans are looking forward to getting back to the Lower Ninth Ward, but newly discovered mold has delayed the facility’s renovation there.
      Meanwhile, the 650 members of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church West who meet at 1 p.m. each Sunday at First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, have a new pastor and are looking for a church building they can call home there.
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Franklin Avenue Baptist Church members (from left) Phillis R. Johnson, Talena Edwards and Maleah M. Johnson evidence the congregation’s Bible-believing faith while temporarily meeting at First Baptist Church in New Orleans on Sunday mornings at 7:30. Photo by James Edward Bates

      And in Baton Rouge, the numbers of Franklin Avenue members who meet at 1 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month at Istrouma Baptist Church have fallen to about 300; many members have returned to New Orleans or moved elsewhere.
      Fred Luter, pastor of what was one of the largest Sunday-morning congregations in Louisiana prior to Hurricane Katrina, then with about 6,000 worshipers, continues the circuit-riding role he started in January after determining that sizable groups of members were in those three cities.

Ministry counters exhaustion 1 year after Katrina in N. Orleans

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Students from Corban College in Salem, Ore., remove a rancid refrigerator as part of gutting a New Orleans-area home several months after Hurricane Katrina. "I just held my breath and walked fast," said Josh Bronson, in red kerchief. "We're here to serve the Lord and if that means hauling a putrid refrigerator to the street, that's what we'll do." Photo by Karen Willoughby
NEW ORLEANS (BP)--A thin edge of normality veils the emotional trauma of living for the last year in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which has been called the nation’s worst-ever natural disaster.
      As Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page noted after being in New Orleans July 17, “I quickly realized that there is no way to see the absolute scope of devastation without visiting there personally. Literally, mile after mile of devastation greets any visitor.”
      A year into Katrina recovery, the situation in greater New Orleans remains acute, and some pastors are to the point of emotional exhaustion.
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Amid the scars of Hurricane Katrina, Joe McKeever, director of missions for New Orleans-area Baptists, leads worship at Lakeview Baptist Church. Photo by James Edward Bates

      “The hardest thing about being in New Orleans at the present time is seeing the devastation every day. It’s still an awful sight to drive through the flood zone,” said David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans.
      “Another hard thing is saying goodbye to your friends, weekly,” Crosby said.