“All that has transpired will change the face of the Southern District,” President Kurtis Schultz told the Council of Presidents (COP) meeting. “Many have lost all things except the mercy and grace of God. And that’s all we need.”
While Schultz spoke to the COP in St. Louis on Sept. 20, the rest of the district staff was together in one place for the first time since Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast in late August.
The hurricane forced evacuation of the district’s building in New Orleans. Temporary offices are in Baton Rouge in a home owned by Trinity Lutheran Church. At the time of the COP meeting, there was no phone service in the area, but the staff was able to use cell phones.
Five days earlier, Schultz and other staff flew by helicopter onto the office building site. They recovered computers and important records — including the computer network and financial system. Schultz said they were there less than an hour, so there was little time to assess damage to the building. He said the computer network was operational.
Schultz said the district staff hoped to return to the building on Oct. 6 to do a thorough assessment.
“The response of the church has been absolutely unbelievable,” he continued. Now, the challenge is not a matter of organization, but finding ways of coordination, he said.
While volunteer help from outside the district is appreciated, Schultz said the issue is how to feed and house the volunteers in communities where homes and facilities are damaged or destroyed. He tells district congregations to accept outside volunteer help only if they can handle them.
“I believe Katrina is an event that will offer opportunity for the Southern District to become a shining witness,” he added. “It is an opportunity for the LMCS to give tremendous witness to the Gospel to be shared.”
“We can speak only of what we know,” Schultz said. “And we can speak of the promise of God to be with us at all times.”
Posted Sept. 29, 2005