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Rain doesn’t dampen spirit of Gulf benefit

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (BP)–Worship at The Wharf was rained out of its venue but not out of its spirit.

The Aug. 15 event to benefit those affected by the Gulf oil spill had been planned as an outdoor concert and worship time Aug. 15, but when a thunderstorm moved through the area it was moved to Christian Life Church in Orange Beach, Ala.

More than 1,500 people of all ages packed the sanctuary of the church as event organizers managed to start the program in less than an hour later than its scheduled time. Sponsored by 54 area churches of various denominations, Worship at The Wharf grew out of a vision of several pastors and businessmen wanting to respond to the devastation and discouragement in the Gulf Coast.

Joe Shirk of the contemporary Christian band Big Daddy Weave and member of First Baptist Church, North Mobile (Saraland, Ala.) and Joe Savage, director of the center for leadership development at the University of Mobile, were instrumental in organizing the event.

Along with Big Daddy Weave, four other Christian artists participated in the concert-type worship time including Lindell Cooley, Deluge, Alicia Williams Garcia and Mark Harris. Wrapping up the event was Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist, North Mobile.

Preaching from Psalm 23, Litton said he wanted to offer encouragement to those in the area going through a hard time.

“The churches down here are suffering,” Litton told The Alabama Baptist. “The membership is leaving because they are having to find new jobs. Tithes and offerings are down. It is a ripple effect. But it’s not only economical, it’s psychological

“We want to bring hope and encouragement with this event,” Litton said. And with the hardships has come a unification of churches of all denominations. The people care in our churches and that’s wonderful.”

The event was free, but an offering was taken. The amount raised was not known at press time.

The timing of the event, Litton said, coincided with students going back to school. There are always extra expenses involved in getting ready to go back to school, he said. “We wanted to help people out.”

The money raised will be used to buy gift cards to local grocery stores. That way the event can assist the local economy as well as families in need, Litton said.

Savage described the event as a “God moment for the future and the day.”

“The one organization or entity along the Gulf Coast which is best suited to help families most in need is the local church,” Savage said in a news release prior to the event. “They know the greatest needs in the community and they know who has those needs more than anyone else.”
Jennifer Davis Rash is managing editor of The Alabama Baptist, online at www.thealabamabaptist.org.

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