Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ministry Down Here: Not for the Faint-Hearted

Churches around the US are pouring love, people, stuff and money into our area. I've gotten calls from several churches asking if they may adopt or partner with us as we rebuild. All of the distressed area churches have received calls offering help and money. Day after day, I get calls asking if we need help.

The answer is "yes".

Several of our churches won't get enough insurance money to repair their buildings. They'll be indebted for years unless they get help. Several of our pastors are traumatized to the point of being walking dead. Pastors are homeless. Furniture, books, electronics, household goods are gone along with their homes. Their families are split up so that children can go to school elsewhere. Their spouses may or may not have jobs.

Pastors are trying to figure out how to do ministry with congregations traumatized, exhausted and broke. Many churches have lost 20% or more of their people. Church records are destroyed. Buildings aren't useable.

Whatever we planned for Fall of 2005 is shelved because their aren't enough church school teachers, youth programs are messed up and no one has energy for much of anything.

I'm doing ok. Our church can re-roof and make the necessary repairs. None of our members are bolting from the area. All of my people survived the storm.

I'm doing ok but my colleagues are suffering. In pain. Exhausted. Stressed trying to meet the needs of their people.

If you want to do exciting ministry, come on down. Give one of our pastors a break by offering to preach for a Sunday or two. Come down and start congregational redevelopment in one of our congregations where members left for new lives elsewhere. Come hold our hands, listen and offer the Hope you have.

I'm trying to do this, I really am.

We need more help. We aren't giving up. We are thinking of new ways to do ministry. We are praying for guidance as we use the gifts we've received so that we strengthen congregations for future mission. We are doing what we can with what we have.


Jody Harrington said...

My presbytery is looking for ways to help churches and pastors in your area. Rita postponed the plans for a work trip to your area to help clean up church properties, but I'll check and see if and when that will be rescheduled. I assume your presbytery offices may not be functioning very well.

I think that we could probably recruit some pastors from New Covenant presbytery to go out to MS to preach and be "pastors to pastors". I'll talk to our general presbyter about that.

Can you use Sunday School materials? Any other types of educational materials? Other ideas?

Unknown said...

Do you really want preachers? My gifts as a carpenter are limited to knowing the difference between a plain screwdriver and a Phillips head. I think my church would let me come, if there were something pastoral I could do to be of help.

St. Casserole said...

Grace, our presbytery offices are up and running. We have an interim exec. Our commission appointed a person to handle receiving gifts and working with workcamps. PDA is has three or four camps set up.
We have church school materials for our congregation but other churches may need replacements and children's library books. Thanks for asking.
Songbird, we need pastoral help around the presbytery, so let's talk.
What would I do without all of you???

Anonymous said...

Second, I can preach, too.

Unknown said...

I ditto PPB, check the e-mail.

Becky Ardell Downs said...

St. cass--
our presbytery is sending people to Gautier-- i think like 4 groups, including college students-- and we're working on a partnership with Bay St. Louis. Several pastors and other preacher-types are in the mix, including probably my husband right after Christmas. I know this is too long to wait-- I hear your loss in all your posts-- the pine cones about made me cry too, memories of tennissing them into the azaleas reflect my own young days--please know all of our prayers remain with you and your family.