Katrina can't stop Gulfside from holding annual tour


Special to the Advocate

A hurricane and the destruction of Gulfside Assembly couldn’t stop the 11th Annual Mission Education Travel Study seminar. 

The event was held June 26-July 2. For 10 years, youth attending Gulfside have toured United Methodist mission sites and historically black colleges and universities across the Southeast.  

Gulfside was destroyed when Hurricane Katrina slammed into its Waveland campus a year ago. Although many youth who regularly attend Gulfside events were affected by Katrina, they continued the mission. The youth toured Bishop College in Mobile; Florida A & M and Florida State universities in Tallahassee, Fla.; Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla., and United Methodist-related Bethune Cookman College  in Dayton Beach, Fla. 

“I recall the Friday after Hurricane Katrina, Marian Martin (Gulfside’s director) wanted to drive down to check on Gulfside Assembly,” recalls Ora Franklin, who coordinated the tour. “She needed see if everything was OK. Through all the downed trees, debris and sand on the roads, we found where Gulfside once stood. All the memories were out of sight, but not out of our hearts.  

“As we walked around and reminisced about what Gulfside has meant to so many, especially the young people, Ms. Martin said to me, ‘We don’t need a building to continue our college tour.’ I looked at her in awe. Here was a woman who just lost her home, her precious possessions, and a place that she loved dearly and all she was thinking about was keeping the mission of Gulfside alive.” 

For four years, the youth have attended the Southeastern Jurisdiction’s Black Methodist for Church Renewal Youth Harambee while on tour. At Harambee, more than 500 youth attended daily worship, leadership development and spiritual growth workshops. This year’s mission project was writing letters to injured service men and women.