Coast churches embrace similarities to Easter story
By Woody Woodrick
One found a calling to ministry. Another found a new outlook amid despair. A third has become a community symbol.
Three United Methodist churches along the
The Aug. 29 storm actually provided some answers for
“One of the things that has really impacted us is serving the community in a way where we now see what we need to be doing.,”
In addition to using its new building to accommodate feeding 500 to 600 volunteers a day and providing housing space, the Eastlawn congregation has sacrificed some of its own cleanup.
“All of us are just so messed up,”
Rebuilding takes money, but
“Financially, it’s been amazing how folks - even members who can’t live here anymore - are still keeping up their pledges,” he said. “We’ve got people living up in
Folks at Eastlawn appear more aware of the meaning of the Easter story,
Inspiring a community
The new facility is located near the bridge over the
“Every day I see people who say they just love seeing that church come up,” Williams said.
Recovery has come more slowly to the Pass Christian area, so seeing a new building nearing completion gives the community hope it can rise again.
The building was originally scheduled to be complete in March. However, that has been pushed back to May. However, Williams said her members aren’t discouraged by the timing.
“We feel that the church is being built in God’s time,” she said.
Once the new facility is finished, the old one won’t be empty. Since the storm, the church has been home to four congregations. In addition to
While excited about the new building, Williams said her congregation seems more focused on Easter as it approaches. “I’ve had more folks tell me they are fasting and praying this Lenten season than I ever have. We have uplifted that more than in the past,” she said.
‘Up from the ground’
One can easily understand if residents of Pearlington were discouraged. One of the towns hardest hit by Katrina, that area of the
“The town is still pretty well destroyed,” said pastor Rich Handy. “Many members have moved away, and they aren’t planning on coming back. There’s nothing to come back to.”
But the generosity of others has boosted the spirits of Pearlington UMC members. It came in the form of a pavilion.
After the storm, Pearlington UMC members worshiped with Clermont UMC, the second church on the charge. But, Handy said, the Pearlington folks wanted to worship in their own community. First, the church received a tent, which looked much like a Quonset hut. Then, a volunteer team suggested a pavilion.
Handy said the church from
“Here was a church planning to build a picnic pavilion for themselves,” he said. “They decided they wanted to spend their money on Pearlington church. They started on Thursday and finished on Saturday night.”
That was about three weeks ago.
Handy said church members were excited about meeting under a real roof. Curtains hang around the pavilion to keep out cold winds and rain, but that doesn’t bother the Pearlington UMC members. The pavilion stands on the slab that once was the site of the church parsonage.
“Right now we’re very encouraged. In the past, there was a lot of discouragement because there was not a lot happening. We didn’t have a building and didn’t know about (an) insurance (settlement). Now, we think we’ll get about $70,000 to $80,000 in insurance money and be able to build something,” said Handy.
More importantly, Handy said, his members have seen what it means to care for others. “We see lots of people caring. These (volunteers) are giving a week out of their lives to come and help out,” he said. “(Pearlington residents) are having a hard time accepting that kind of generosity and kindness. There’s no way they can replay that.
“I hope three or four years from now, if a storm hits somewhere else, some of these people respond and remember the kindness done to them and give to someone else.”
Handy anticipates a more meaningful Easter. “It will be a very thankful Easter,” he said. “They will be able to reflect on what good is happening in their lives. During hard times, one of the constants they have is the love of our Lord.
“I think I see lot of similarities from where they are. Some are living in tents as opposed to a pile of debris. I think they see something coming from nothing and relate to the resurrection story.”