Open letter from New Orleans
I know many of you have concern for the Lord’s work in New Orleans. We are still assessing the situation in the area, but at this time have little information. Many members have evacuated the area, but many are of unknown status at this time.
Because of the communications and transportation challenges, we have been unable to determine the status of the various meeting places. However, from the pictures on TV and our familiarity with the area, we feel certain that many of the buildings have sustained damage.
The Hickory Knoll building has sustained damage in the new auditorium (the roof is partially off), but the old auditorium and classrooms are intact. We now more fully understand Matthew 18:20. (“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”) There were three in attendance for Sunday morning service.
About half of our members are accounted for. Brother Fred Franke reports that about half of the Carrolton Avenue members are accounted for. We spoke to someone from Chalmette who said the building was standing there. We have heard that the Slidell building was substantially damaged. There was/is flood waters in Carrolton avenue and Elysian Fields. Some of the Elysian Fields members are at Goodwood Blvd in Baton Rouge and we have heard from Brother Isaiah Williams of Crowder Road, who is in the Atlanta area with some of the members, that the elders are in Tennessee and are OK. Some of the Crowder members are at Memorial in Houston.
We know the need for resources will be great in the coming weeks and months. Of primary need will be the members who have lost their possessions and jobs. Most Christians in this area depend on hourly wages to sustain themselves. In order to sustain the Church in the area, these members will need assistance.
Because of the loss of earning power the contributions will be reduced for all the congregations. Some may have difficulty supporting the work. At this early stage, we have not been able to contact the other Elders in the area to formulate a plan for the region.
If you are an elder from the area please contact [email protected] with a CC to [email protected] and put “elder” in the subject line. If you are a member of Hickory Knoll please respond with “member” in the subject line.
Our goals at this time include:
1. Continue the support of the work in the area at the various congregations
2. Assist the individual members of various congregations in the New Orleans area through their eldership (Gal 6:10)
3. Attend to the physical needs of the church and community through the efforts of Church of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Nashville, Tenn., to supply immediate needs of food and water (Mike Fox has been in Nashville coordinating that effort and has left for the New Orleans area)
4. Evangelize those we come in contact with (Mark 16:15-16)
5. Re-establish the meeting places that have been damaged
6. Help members who are unable to return to find a Church in the area they go to.
Items 1 and 4 deserve the most attention, because these are long-term issues.
Support for all the congregations will be necessary in order to keep the ministers in place, assuming the congregations can be reunited (This is a MAJOR open question at this time). A preliminary suggestion would be for those who want to help to choose a work in the area to support for a year or two. The model in New Orleans area could be that similar to a mission work overseas.
Item 3 and 4 will require people resources to distribute food and do follow-up teaching.
You may want to be a part of this effort. We will account for this effort through a separate bank account, and provide you with an accounting of the funds upon request. If you wish to help, please e-mail us at [email protected]. Please CC to [email protected]
Please remember the victims in your prayers, and pray that this disaster will open new doors for the Lord’s work. The Montegut and Village Square congregations were started in this area as a result of the relief efforts during previous hurricane disasters.
Please pray for us that we are able to continue the Lord’s work in the New Orleans area.
The elders of the Hickory Knoll Church of Christ: Harrell Freeman, John Hutchens, Jim Keaton, Al Laguna
Sept. 6, 2005