News Articles

Chapman urges Southern Baptists to pray & ‘give generously’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptists should “pray diligently” and “give generously” in the wake of a hurricane that has left much of the Gulf Coast in ruins and has displaced the faculty and students of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Morris H. Chapman said Sept. 1.

“As the magnitude of this tragedy along the Gulf Coast unfolds, no words can adequately convey the dismay and grief we feel at the extraordinary loss of so much by so many,” said Chapman. Chapman is president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.

Chapman spoke with Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who said the campus has experienced significant damage, though the extent is not yet fully known. In describing the evacuation and dire circumstances of New Orleans’ citizens, Chapman said that Kelley was particularly moved because the large majority of those stranded are poor.

“If ever there were a time for a genuine outpouring of love and compassion, this is the time,” Chapman said.

Chapman also said he spoke with the executive directors of the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi Baptist conventions — Rick Lance, David Hankins and Jim Futral, respectively.

“All of them said there is no way to describe or even fathom what has happened,” Chapman said.

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, delivering its biggest blow to the Mississippi coast. New Orleans became a disaster area following a series of levee breaks that flooded the city.

“Our hearts break for those who have lost friends and family members, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been dislocated from, and in so many cases lost, their homes.

“In addition to our prayers and condolences, Southern Baptist volunteers from all across this country have rushed to the area to minister through Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units. These dear volunteers are our personal ambassadors of compassion and mercy, providing hot meals, warm smiles and words of compassion to hundreds of thousands of victims.”

Southern Baptists who cannot assist physically in the relief efforts can help in other ways, Chapman said.

“I would urge them to pray diligently for those who have been so impacted, and to give generously in support of these relief efforts,” Chapman said, noting that disaster relief contributions can be made through state conventions and the North American Mission Board (www.namb.net/disasterrelief).

He also urged Southern Baptists to support the disaster relief fund that has been set up to assist New Orleans Seminary: New Orleans Seminary Hurricane Relief Fund, Southern Baptist Foundation, 901 Commerce St., Suite 600, Nashville, TN 37203.

Southern Baptists, Chapman said, should pray specifically for New Orleans Seminary, which has moved its offices temporarily to Decatur, Ga.

“[O]ur thoughts and prayers are particularly with Dr. Chuck Kelley and the faculty, staff and students of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary,” Chapman said. “We rejoice with them in the Lord’s protection of life and deliverance from harm, but our hearts go out to them in their time of great loss and uncertainty. Their tragic and extended dislocation from the seminary campus is unprecedented in Baptist history, and we pledge our earnest prayers and unflagging support as Dr. Kelley and the seminary’s leadership seek clear direction from the Lord.”

Southern Baptists in the Gulf Coast region impacted by the storm should know they have the support of fellow believers, Chapman said.

“For those Southern Baptists in the area who have been so heavily affected by this catastrophe, please understand that you are not standing alone,” he said. “In 1 Corinthians 12:26 Paul wrote that when one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. Your Southern Baptist brothers and sisters around the country are standing with you, and kneeling in prayer for you. We pray that the Holy Spirit will minister His comfort, grace and peace — that peace that surpasses all understanding. We pray His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We also pray that He will give you clear guidance as you face what seems to be an uncertain future.”

    About the Author

  • Staff