Tucker helps Safe Harbor recover, grow following Hurricane Katrina

5/1/2007

Nominee:  Rev. John D. Tucker
Church Affiliation: Safe Harbor United Methodist Church, Moss Point
Hometown: Pascagoula (native of Key West, Fla.)
Favorite Verse: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” — Zephaniah 3:17

Quotable:  “Katrina had a great impact in my life. First, although the storm pounded our shores with its fury, God’s bride the church, has hit us with wave upon wave of loving kindness. Second, I have visually witnessed the power of Christian conferencing. By conferencing I mean Christians gathering around other Christians in times of great stress to listen, to hold hands, to pile up damaged goods and to aid in rebuilding homes and hope. Third, I experienced a God alive. In every minute of the 100,000-plus hours of community service given by the 1,300-plus volunteers, I have witnessed a calling from our risen savior on their hearts.

“In the numerous gifts and donations given, I have seen the tremendous potential of a church alive. In the trueness of our actions, we are but a small part of a much larger outreach that goes beyond ourselves.

“To my wife, who took care of our children as I put in 14-20 hours a day for nearly 10 months, I am forever grateful. Finally, to every person who invited me into their lives and allowed me to give assistance, I give thanks because I certainly received more than I could ever give.” 

Tucker has played a vital role in the recovery efforts of the Safe Harbor UMC and its surrounding community. His actions immediately following the storm, and every day since the storm, have been nothing less than heroic. 

Once the storm passed, Tucker visited all members of the church in the vicinity of the Kreole community to make sure they were safe and to identify any specific needs they had at that particular time. He then began cleaning the fellowship hall at the Kreole campus of Safe Harbor UMC with the help of his son Kristopher, who had driven from Missouri with supplies. The fellowship hall then became a supply center and was available for worship services. Tucker was emphatic in his desire to not miss a service when people needed their church the most. 

Before he finished cleaning the fellowship hall, an 18-wheel tractor-trailer pulled into the parking lot. Tucker unloaded the truck and began distributing water, cleaning supplies and food to all those who approached the church. Tucker organized the entire fellowship hall into a regional supply center that was an oasis in this time of need. This supply center remained open for at least 10 hours every day for six weeks after the storm. 

Tucker’s chief concern was getting his congregation, of which more than 140 families had significant flood damage, back into their homes as well as helping those in the community who had no one to help them. He began to liaison with numerous churches all over the country to coordinate mission trips and teams and to assure that each team had adequate housing and food. Tucker developed a system where work orders were distributed to each team so they could organize their efforts and make sure the proper materials were on hand to complete their volunteer work. 

Safe Harbor hosted more than 250 mission teams from more than 28 states. The church has grown and reached members of its community through Tucker’s leadership. During the recovery process, he never neglected his pastoral duties continuing to preach and conduct his Wednesday night Bible study.