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Diocese of Louisiana: Little to No Word on Damages
The Living Church Foundation ^ | 9/02/2005

Posted on 09/02/2005 4:03:56 PM PDT by sionnsar

Four days after one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history there has been no report on the 18 parishes of the Diocese of Louisiana located in New Orleans, most of which is under water, and with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials cautioning that it will be weeks or even months before residents can return, the true extent of the diocesan loss may take even longer, according to Ann Ball, director of communications.

“We’ve seen TV pictures of St. Paul’s … Holy Comforter … Chapel of the Holy Spirit” in New Orleans, all “flooded.” But with roads closed, telephone and cell phone service out, and the declaration of martial law closing the city and surrounding area, “we just don’t know what’s happened,” she said.

Speaking from the diocese’s temporary offices at St James' Church in Baton Rouge on Sept. 2, Mrs. Ball said the diocese believed the “churches around the lake” had been heavily damaged, but “you cannot get into Jefferson Parish. There is no entry, no exit from it.”

Outside the flooded areas the situation for many survivors is grim.Solomon Episcopal Conference Center].” “We are sheltering 139 evacuees” and hosting “80 National Guardsman at the conference center.” 90 miles north of New Orleans, she said. “The people had no cash to pay for food or water.”

Rumors the diocesan offices had been looted were not true Mrs. Ball said. “Someone spent the night [Monday] at the St Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie and six parish-run schools had been closed, and “we have had no word” on their condition. State officials estimate it will take two to three months for public schools to reopen across the region.

Offers of support and encouragement have been arriving steadily at the temporary diocesan headquarters, Mrs. Ball said. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sent a personal note to Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold and the bishops of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Central Gulf Coast expressing his concern and holding “all those affected in my prayers at this dreadful time.” The diocesan website remained up and running, she noted, and now contains news and information on how Episcopalians outside the diocese might help.

Amidst the destruction, the Bishop of Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, III, has been working tirelessly, according to diocesan staff and Louisiana clergy. At a service of prayer and thanksgiving held Sept. 1 at St James' in Baton Rouge, Bishop Jenkins began his sermon with a roll call of parishes, giving thanks for the survivors, the relief workers, and “most of all” for those “who are lost.”

He told the congregation that he was “praying for perseverance and patience” and that it was proper to grieve, and praised the consolation of one’s faith in difficult times. Bishop Jenkins was reticent about his own loss, not telling the 100 people gathered for the noonday service that his home, purchased two weeks ago, had been destroyed by the storm. Unlike most residents, Bishop Jenkins, who was out of state visiting his son when Hurricane Katrina struck, did not have an opportunity to collect personal papers and family heirlooms.

After the peace, Bishop Jenkins interjected a moment of levity into the service, asking the congregation’s pardon for his dress. It would be the first time he celebrated the Eucharist “wearing brown shoes,” he reported.

“Bishop Jenkins is a beacon of hope” one worshiper later said. A member of his staff told TLC “he does shine in moments like this. He is a great organizer” and has “worked very hard” to inculcate a positive “spirit in everyone.”

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: katrina

1 posted on 09/02/2005 4:03:56 PM PDT by sionnsar
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