The Gulf Coast Synod Council met in New Orleans on the weekend of March 18-20, 2022.

Friday, March 18, 2022

The early arrivers on Friday gathered at Bobby Herbert’s Cajun Cannon. L-R Paul Antolik (Salem, Houston), Veronica and Rodwell Thom (Peace, Pasadena), Chris Markert (Synod Staff), Danny and Chon Pugh (Memorial Lutheran/First Presbyterian, Texas City), Tracey Breashears Schultz (Synod Staff), Calea Wirtley (Youth Representative).

Saturday, March 19, 2022

A few wandered to Cafe du Monde Saturday morning.
We were surprised to run into ELcA friends Gluck and Herring from Christ Lutheran in Lake Jackson.
Arriving at Bethlehem New Orleans in Central City, Pastor Ben Groth gave us the low down on their Community Table food ministry which has taken off and their affordable housing project. “We are coming out of the pandemic stronger than we went in,” said Pastor Ben.

Affordable Housing Project

Bethlehem has partnered with Tulane’s School of Architecture to build four affordable housing units. Urban Build is run by Professor Byron, above, at the foot of the ladder. Students design a unit in the Fall and build it each Spring.

Community Table

Chef Dee explained the vision of Community Table and her work with Liberty Kitchen which hires men released from prison, helping them learn the skills to make it outside.
Community Table serves shrimp and grits, polenta, and other awesome dishes not often found in feeding ministries.
Our group prepared to serve. L-R, Paul Antolik, Rodwell Thom, Calea Wirtley, Chris Markert, Tracey Breashears Schultz.
Since the pandemic, Community Table has served all their meals to go.
I am grateful that Leigh, the new Executive Director of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference joined us.
We met in the afternoon. Several people joined us by Zoom. In this picture Jessica Vermilyea from Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response addresses the Synod Council.

Sunday, March 20, 2022 – the first day of spring!

The Synod Council visited congregations in the greater new Orleans area. Unfortunately, there are not enough of us to visit every congregation, so we visited congregations who might be needing attention, or who had not been visited in some time.

Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mandeville

Pastor Chon Pugh and youth representative Calea Wirtley traveled to the North Shore. Interim pastor Jerry Mansholt and his wife Anita are in the Holy Land leading a group. Hosanna is in the process of pulling up stakes. They have a contract on their building and are in conversation with Covenant Presbyterian.

Today was the blessing of the quilts.
Synod council youth representative Calea Wirtley with the quilts. Calea served as assisting minister.
Leaders from Hosanna and Covenant Presbyterian met today to conspire together.

Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Chalmette

Pastor Tracey Breashears Schultz preached at Gethsemane in Chalmette.

The activity at the front pew is a service project: stuffing goody bags for an Easter egg hunt at the preschool.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church in New Orleans

Because they hosted our Synod Council meeting, I had the privilege of preaching at Bethlehem. There was a joyful spirit in the room, and a number of visitors, including Pastor Anna-Kari Johnson who serves as Associate Director for Congregational Vitality at the Churchwide offices in Chicago. She and her family were on vacation and popped in unexpectedly. There was also a campus ministry group from Wisconsin who had come to see the affordable housing project.

Pastor Ben Groth
Pastor Anna-Kari Johnson
Pastor Anna-Kari Johnson‘s family with Pastor Ben Groth, left.

Lutheran Church of the Galilean in Laplace

Pastor Rodwell Thom preached at Galilean, where they are still in the process of rebuilding after devastating flooding (again) from Hurricane Ida, which made landfall on August 29, 2021, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.