20-some pastors and other church staff will meet today for our annual Leadership Gathering at Christ the King. Tomorrow we are joined by congregational presidents and other key lay leaders. Keep them in prayer. This is a big weekend with the 5th anniversary of Katrina.
Female staff are staying at Dusangs (Assistant to the Bishop Peggy Hahn’s parents), Mission Director Kerry Nelson is staying with Pastor Pat Keen (Bethlehem, New Orleans), and I’m at Pastor Ron Unger’s (Christ the King, Kenner) with Kevin Massey (Director of Lutheran Disaster Response).
I’m proud that we have church leaders in New Orleans who love hospitality (Heb. 13:1-2), opening their homes with joy to the family of faith. This calls me back to my Lutheran Youth Encounter days in the 80’s when we stayed in host homes every night for a year. I’m proud of our synod staff who are not too proud (Luke 14:7ff) to stay in homes. They could use their travel budgets to stay in hotels, but choose instead to leverage resources for maximum impact.
The TV here has been rolling images of the city five years ago: 80% flooded, rescues, tears, the Superdome. The images invoke all the feelings of nauseous despair that time held. All the morning news anchors are broadcasting from New Orleans. The mayor has an event. The Governor and President are speaking. Some are tired of grieving, but the feelings, so close to the surface, cannot be stuffed.
Who imagined then that this city would stage a comeback like no other? Who imagined the Saints would win the Super Bowl, with a quarterback who at the time has a shredded shoulder, and was recovering from torn rotator cuff surgery? FEMA just gave New Orleans a $1.8 billion grant to rebuild schools.
We have a long way to go, but this is a resurrection story in progress.