Seashore Mission starts over

4/3/2007

By Lisa Michiels
Special to the Advocate 

BILOXI — Just in time for Easter, Seashore Mission has new life on the Gulf Coast.

Clergy and lay members of the Seashore District gathered March 18 at Beauvoir United Methodist Church to celebrate new beginnings of ministry to the displaced.

Seashore Mission Church, located on Howard Avenue in Biloxi, housed the district’s ministry to the homeless. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed its building and scattered its staff, the future of its programming was uncertain.  

“After the storm a number of people began conversations about how to recover the ministry. We kept running into road blocks along the way until the conversations lead to a partnership with Beauvoir UMC giving the ministry of Seashore Mission a place to begin anew,” said the Rev. Bill McAlilly, Seashore District superintendent. “To that end we have re-appointed the Rev. Elijah Mitchell to Seashore Mission Church and as an associate to Beauvoir UMC. Beauvoir and Seashore Mission will join as a worshipping community.”  

For more than 15 years the mission church offered those seeking refuge a place to find food, shelter, a 12-step program, GED and discipleship classes. Through partnerships with area businesses and other agencies, it was also able to provide limited medical, legal and employment services. Prior to Katrina it met the needs of 75 to 100 persons a day.  

In the 18 months since Katrina, temporary housing and employment were found for the staff. Mitchell accepted an assignment with Mississippi United Methodist Disaster Response. The original site of Seashore Mission Church had presented challenges through the years, so the storm offered the board an opportunity to seek property that can better serve the ministry’s needs.  

“Katrina may have destroyed the facility, but it did not destroy the spirit or the love of the ministry to God’s precious souls,” said Mitchell. “Our partnership with Beauvoir does not mean that we have given up our dream of a building to house and expand the ministry.” 

It does offer a place of worship and an office space for Mitchell. 

The Rev. Sally Bevill and the congregation of Beauvoir welcomed Mitchell and the members of the mission. Beauvoir has a history of community service and just recently was awarded the 2006-07 Community Partnership Award from Hands On Gulf Coast. Since Hurricane Katrina the grounds of the church have housed the Hands On service organization, and Bevill, the church’s pastor, also serves as the conference Hispanic-Latino coordinator.  

The shared ministry of Bevill and Mitchell gives an opportunity to open new doors to expanded programming to the displaced in our community. 

“We’re not sure where it leads, but we are sure that God is the leader,” said Bevill. “Katrina has showed us God makes beautiful and wonderful things out of disaster. I know what the past looks like and we can’t change it; but we can look forward and make changes. I trust God to show us the way.”