KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Just as Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco called for a day of prayer for victims of Hurricane Katrina, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary already was praying for its sister seminary, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, as part of Midwestern’s previously scheduled fall Day of Prayer Aug. 31.
Meanwhile, New Orleans’ other sister seminaries -– Southeastern, Southwestern, Southern — also were taking steps to aid the flood-stricken school, which has set up temporary offices at its North Georgia Campus near Atlanta.
“Our Day of Prayer had been on the calendar for several weeks. Each semester we typically pray for the upcoming semester, our community, our students and our churches,” Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts said. “But this semester, God refocused the whole Midwestern family to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.”
In three separate times during the day -– 7 a.m., 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. -– students, staff and faculty at Midwestern focused their prayer on the hurricane’s victims and their fellow seminary students and colleagues.
At least three Midwestern employees had family in the immediate area of the hurricane. Human resource director Renee Walker said the emphasis on prayer throughout the day was especially comforting to her as she waits on news from family members.
“I felt a great sense of God’s comfort and peace during the prayer service,” Walker said of the 10 a.m. chapel service. “As God still remains in control during the midst of such devastation and trials, this still continues to be a simple reminder of God’s sovereignty.”
“Prayer is what sustains us during this time of uncertainty and not being able to speak with family,” she said.
The regularly scheduled Day of Prayer was led by Al Whittinghill of Ambassadors for Christ International in Georiga. During the 10 a.m. chapel service, he preached from Matthew 6 on the “Important Ingredients of Closet Prayer” to a full chapel audience.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will give financial and physical aid to New Orleans Seminary in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, SEBTS Daniel Akin has announced.
The Wake Forest, N.C., seminary has established an account to be used specially for relief efforts for the seminary. During Southeastern’s chapel services Sept. 7-8, the school will take an offering for New Orleans Seminary.
Southeastern also is planning on sending a work crew to New Orleans to aid the school in repairs. There will be a signup for those who would like to travel during the fall break (Oct. 3-7) and help in the relief effort either at New Orleans Seminary or at a location designated by the North American Mission Board.
“Southeastern Seminary stands ready to assist in any way our brothers and sisters at New Orleans Seminary,” Akin said. “Our heart breaks for them, and we are prepared to help them as they rebuild their world. With Dr. [Chuck] Kelley leading them, we know our sister school will come back as strong as ever. We will gladly work alongside of them, no matter how long it takes, to see that this is done.”
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary will allow students to serve as disaster relief volunteers and provide aid to displaced seminary students, GGBTS President Jeff Iorg announced.
At a special Sept. 6 chapel, Iorg said the seminary will allow students who are trained in disaster relief to miss up to two weeks of class time to assist in the Katrina disaster. In May, many students received training, in partnership with the California Southern Baptist Convention, to provide mass feeding, debris removal, spiritual counseling and childcare.
Also, Iorg offered free tuition and housing for the fall semester for displaced New Orleans seminary students. “I am counting on the Golden Gate community to produce everything necessary to help these families,” Iorg said in chapel, “and I know you will.”
Students from New Orleans Seminary who wish to seek housing assistance at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Fort Worth campus may call the seminary’s toll-free number, 1-800-SWBTS-01. The seminary, in conjunction with local churches and individual Southwestern Seminary students, stands ready to provide assistance.
The seminary also will offer housing and clothing assistance to Southwestern alumni and displaced students in addition to fielding disaster relief teams for the ravaged Gulf Coast, placing them under the direction of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s disaster relief coordinator.
The seminary’s toll-free line also will provide information on where funds and staple items, such as non-perishable foods and toiletries, may be donated.
A number of housing units are available for alumni of the seminary who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Seminary President Paige Patterson said the seminary was offering lodging to displaced pastors and other ministers because their sole source of income, the financial support provided by the churches they serve, no longer exists.
The seminary’s Helping Hands house also is ready to provide clothing. Kent Sanders, director of student life, said the ministry, which receives regular donations of dresses, suits and casual clothes, would prove valuable as people arrive at the Fort Worth campus.
The seminary’s office of church minister relations also is ready to work with displaced pastors who wish to serve churches in Texas that currently have no pastor. Churches in the Fort Worth and Dallas areas who wish to partner with the seminary to offer housing assistance or request an interim pastor should call the seminary’s toll-free number to speak with a representative from the housing office or the office of church minister relations.
Southwestern will be fielding teams to the area of the Gulf Coast affected by the hurricane. Seminary groups will be working under the direction of the Southern Baptists of Texas disaster relief response team, according to Greg Kingry, vice president for business services at the seminary.
“We want to make certain that our teams are being used in a coordinated way where they are most needed. The SBTC is working to identify those locations,” Kingry said.
Students who wish to be involved in work with the SBTC in restricted areas must be certified as a disaster relief volunteer. Kingry said that the seminary would soon host a disaster relief training session on the campus of the seminary for students who wish to participate.
At Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, claiming hundreds lives, demands that Christians mobilize to help people whose lives have been affected.
“Southern Baptists are going to be mounting a massive effort to assist people all throughout the region in terms of families in distress and churches that need to be rebuilt and re-established,” Mohler said. “Entire communities just have to be restarted and refounded. There are a lot of displaced people that really need assistance.”
Southern Seminary will focus many of its relief efforts on helping the students, faculty and staff at New Orleans Seminary. Southern began its efforts Aug. 30 by signing up volunteers to serve on relief teams that will be ready to go whenever they are called upon. To date more than 300 Southern students and faculty have volunteered.
“They’re trying to build an army of volunteers to be ready. And this is your chance to sign up,” Mohler said in chapel. “We’re looking for a few good men and also women who can help with the rebuilding of lives and the reconnecting of the people. There’s a lot to be done.”
Southern also is collecting an offering for its sister seminary. Checks should be made out to the Southern Baptist Foundation and designated for New Orleans Seminary relief. Thus far the seminary family has donated more than $30,000.
The extent of the damage at New Orleans seminary is still unknown, but the lives of students, faculty and staff have been devastated, Mohler said. New Orleans administrators have set up a temporary base of operations at the seminary’s Atlanta-area extension center.
“We have a seminary, as it were, now in exile, setting up in its extension in Atlanta,” Mohler said, commenting on Jeremiah 29. “The most important part of this passage is what the Lord promises His people: ‘I have plans for you, plans for your welfare and not for evil.’ We have claimed that promise for so many who are suffering and grieving and scrambling together today to figure out how they can put their lives and ministries and families back together.”
Southern Seminary also is trying to help in other ways, such as making its campus available as a refuge for displaced New Orleans students.
Mohler noted, “No one knows what this rebuilding is going to look like. President Bush was surely right … when he said it would take years. But it has to start somewhere, and we need to make a response as quickly as possible.”