Main Street UMC turns mission focus to recovering community


Special to the Advocate

BAY ST. LOUIS — In 2005, Main Street United Methodist Church earned the award as Seashore District Mission Church of the Year.

The congregation was cited for its service locally and around the world.

Since Aug. 29, however, the church has had to focus its efforts primarily on the local community as it has played a key role in helping the area recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Main Street UMC has concentrated on getting its church building back in shape to house the various ministries, while trying to meet the needs of those who are trying to rebuild their homes and lives. To do this, the congregation has relied on help from fellow United Methodists and other Christians who have come to share the love of Christ by working in Bay-Waveland and the surrounding communities.

Soon after the storm, volunteers arrived and offered help by providing food, water, clothing, cleaning and other supplies in a distribution tent in the front yard of the church. The volunteers listened to the needs of the people in the community and gave them hope.

The volunteers came and have continued to come from the Kansas East Conference of the United Methodist Church to coordinate the teams from throughout the country who work out of the church and assist in the recovery effort. These teams represent more than 20 states with more signed up to arrive later this spring, summer and fall. Because of the housing shortage, the building usually provides a place to stay for 50 volunteers, although as many as 150 have been sheltered.

Another strong presence at Main Street UMC has been the NOMADS (Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service). These couples and families who participate in the NOMADS ministry share their time and skills in meaningful Christian service. They have brought their own recreational vehicles and stayed to help those in need in this community. United Methodist Committee on Relief and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are also working in conjunction with Main St. UMC to provide continuing services.

In addition, donations of money, books, furniture and other supplies have also been given to help the church and community. One southern Indiana United Methodist Church continued its plan to hold a fund-raising event and send the proceeds to the church, even though its own building was been demolished by a tornado.

Main Street UMC has contributed at least 56,000 man-hours of volunteer labor at 618 sites and continues to make a difference with work and spiritual support in the community. The hours of service also help the area when applying for matching-grant funding from other sources.

Anyone needing assistance or willing to help, may call the work coordinator at 228-216-2543.