Young pastor offers hope, aid

3/6/2007

Name: Rev. Robbie Murden 

Church: Gulfport First UMC 

Hometown: Mississippi Gulf Coast 

Favorite Verse: James 4:8 

Quote: “Hurricane Katrina was a ‘great’ tragedy. It brought our church family together as well as our community and the body of Christ. It gave me the opportunity to meet a number of our members in way I never could have were it not for Katrina. It was definitely a time to draw on my favorite verse - James 4:8 – ‘Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.’” (NRSV) 

As the prophet said to Esther, “Who knows but what you came to Nineveh for such a time as this?” so have the members of Gulfport First United Methodist Church said to the Rev. Robbie Murden.  

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Murden was two months into his first appointment after seminary and was immediately thrust into disaster response.  

He began working tirelessly to schedule hundreds of work teams and projects for all the people needing assistance in the surrounding areas and went with them to work.  

Through his connection with Duke Divinity School, he arranged for visiting teams to be scheduled and housed at First UMC and organized interaction between the church members and volunteers. Through the church’s Mission and Outreach Committee, he secured the assistance of another committee member, Dr. Wade Bishop, to work with individual Sunday school classes and other church groups to ensure that each team would have a hot meal once a week served by members of the church, proving to be rewarding for both team and church members. 

Contributions to help First UMC members who had suffered losses came from across America, and Murden set up a Katrina Fund to distribute the funds through applications to the Mission and Outreach Committee. These funds helped many who needed furniture, appliances, repairs and other needs. 

Murden did all this with a constant smile that said, over and over, I love you and God loves you. His character is one of love, faith and enduring spirit, a shining example of what God’s love should be for all of us.