Knowing We are Blessed

Wednesday morning, on my way to First Baptist-LaPlace for our weekly ministers’ gathering, I found myself wondering if anyone would show up. I missed last Wednesday, in Jackson for our friend’s funeral. And last week, we cut the meetings to two hours, from 10 to noon. So, perhaps the interest is dwindling. As always, I sent up a brief reminder to the Father that “This is yours; it’s not about me; let this weekly meeting continue as long as it meets the needs of even one person.”

It may have been our best meeting ever. Some fifty people were there, including several for the first time.

We were thrilled to welcome home Rev. and Mrs. Johnny Jones, pastor of the ill-fated Free Mission Church in the Lower 9th Ward, and now living in the Fort Knox, Kentucky, area where their son is a chaplain. “We had a meeting last Sunday of about 25 members,” Brother Johnny said, “in front of our building.” They’re meeting again tonight (Wednesday) at Shoney’s on the West Bank. Both the church and the Joneses’ home have been gutted out and await restoration. Since they are in the tragic Lower 9th, no one knows to this day what the city is going to allow or require for rebuilding. My guess is everyone is waiting for Saturday’s mayoral election, and then for the new mayor to make this call.

James “Boogie” Melerine, pastor of the Delacroix-Hope church, now meeting in a carport in the community of St. Bernard, reported, “We had 77 for church Sunday.” They were running 25 before Katrina. “We’ve had eight adults saved recently.” The Presbyterian church in that community may be for sale, and they’re in conversations with the half-dozen members there about buying it. “To their credit,” he said, “they’re spending their insurance money to restore the church before discussing with us about purchasing it.” Someone asked what they planned to name the “new” church. A nearby bayou is one possibility, but he said, “Some want to name it ‘Katrina.'” The laughter that provoked made me wonder if he was serious. He seemed to be.

That’s the way with Christians, isn’t it. Taking the worst flung at them and turning it into a badge of honor. Like the cross. Like Good Friday. Like Paul reading his resume’ in II Corinthians 11:23-28 where he lists as his credentials the suffering he endured for Jesus’ sake.

Continue reading

Tearing Down and Building Up

In Monday night’s mayoral debate, moderators Norman Robinson and Chris Mathews tried. They pushed and pushed the candidates but got little of substance from any of them. Each had his talking points and strayed little from them. On Tuesday’s op-ed pages, the columnists called them on it.

Stephanie Grace’s column was headed, “Candidates duck rebuilding debate.” Early on, she says, there was hope that the massive needs of this city would provoke vigorous debate over the decisions the city would have to make on land use. Shall we turn the lowest sections of the city from residential neighborhoods into parks or industrial development? It seems the candidates are afraid to take the most reasonable stand, that some areas should be deemed unsafe at any cost and left alone. In order to be elected, they take the path of least resistance. “Trust me with your vote,” they imply, “and I’ll do the right thing later.”

Columnist Jarvis DeBerry told the kind of candidate he was looking for, the man or woman who would capture his vote. “Anybody who steps up and offers me the bitter-tasting, hard-to-stomach truth…will have my support. And I’ll be happy to give it.” Alas, no one of the two dozen candidates qualified, he says. “Don’t get me wrong,” DeBerry writes. “I understand that at its most basic level, a political campaign is nothing more than an elaborate version of the note that gets passed to the cute girl in the 7th grade reading class: ‘Do you like me? Check yes or no.'” None of the mayoral candidates want to say anything that will offend. “We’re being talked to as if we’re children, children who are too immature to be told how dire our situation really is, too petulant and self-centered to appreciate how much sacrifice our recovery will require of us.”

The Times-Picayune has just won two Pulitzers. One was awarded for meritorious public service for the paper’s coverage of Katrina and its aftermath. The other was given for distinguished reporting of breaking news, again for Katrina. I notice that the Sun Herald, newspaper of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, received the public service award, too. That should not imply that the way to get a Pulitzer is to have a major catastrophe occur on your watch; many papers do not rise to the occasion the way these two did.

On Elysian Fields Avenue Monday morning, the wrecking machines were tearing down the beloved Baptist church on that street. Ironic how a grand edifice like that, one which has stood imposingly on that corner for over 40 years, can be reduced to a pile of concrete and rubble so quickly. Ironic and sad. I expect a new, smaller, more functional building to go up on that corner before long, and won’t we all be glad.

Perhaps the weirdest moment in Monday night’s mayoral debate came when each candidate was allowed to ask another a question, and Peggy Wilson asked incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin if he really wants all the welfare cheats, the pimps, the drug dealers, the murderers back. “Do you want those people back?” Nagin answered, “I want everybody to come back to the city.” Then he added, “The ones I’m not excited about coming back are the people that have been involved in very serious crimes.”

People ask me who I’m voting for. I live in River Ridge, in Jefferson Parish, not in New Orleans. I wish I did live there, just to vote this Saturday.

Continue reading

Grace and Love on Easter Sunday

Pastor Tony Merida got it right today. This young man of God, in the second year of his first pastorate, is so solid in his presentation, so sound in his theology, and so right in his connection with the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Kenner, it’s pure joy to hear him. His message on the resurrection of Jesus was precisely what I needed to hear after burying a good friend and a dear brother this week. I pray that I shall live boldly and never fear death, which if the Gospels are to be believed, is a conquered enemy.

Tony’s sense of humor is so refreshing. Referring to the John 20 scene where Peter and John rush to the tomb to find it empty and the Lord’s grave clothes flat and the head towel folded neatly by itself, Tony called that two miracles. “The Lord was risen and a single man folded his clothes.”

Early this morning after spending time in the Word and then on the floor with my exercises, I walked on the Mississippi River levee, caught a quick shower, then rushed to LaFreniere Park for the 7 am Easter Sunrise Service conducted by the Lutheran church. The people were all leaving. “I thought it started at seven,” I said to two ladies decked out in bright Easter colors. “Six-fifteen,” one said. “The one in the cemetery starts at seven.” It would be half over by the time I got there. As I drove away, they called out a bright, “Happy Easter.”

This Monday night at 8 pm Central, the debate of the candidates for New Orleans mayor goes national. Chris Mathews and MSNBC will broadcast this show, and it should be worth watching. Sunday’s Times-Picayune says some of the candidates are through playing nice and have started making accusations. Ron Forman accuses Mitch Landrieu of never meeting a tax he didn’t like when he was in the state legislature. Landrieu fires back that Forman sure did like to receive the money from those taxes at the various Audubon enterprises he oversaw. Peggy Wilson is predicting that she, the official Republican nominee, will meet Mayor Nagin in the runoff. The newspaper has endorsed Forman but finds a lot it likes in Rob Couhig, Virginia Boulet, and Rev. Tom Watson.

Sewell Cadillac, the prestigious downtown dealership, lost a lot of great automobiles to the Katrina thing when as many as 90 police officers helped themselves to vehicles for transportation in and out of the city. Attorney General Charles Foti is investigating and it’s still to be seen what recommendations he will make. In the meantime, Sewell has decided to capitalize on the event. Billboards going up around town announce: “New Orleans’ Finest Drive Sewell.” Police Chief Warren Riley smiles about it and says, “It’s good advertising, a stroke of genius, really. A good-humored joke. It was smart of them to use us to their own benefit.”

Continue reading

Seeing Each Other for the Last Time

Originally, I had planned to leave Saturday, April 8, in late afternoon driving toward Charlotte, NC, to visit son Marty and his family before heading back to Anderson University Monday night for Tuesday’s speaking assignments, then back to New Orleans. The death of my brother Charlie that Saturday morning changed everything. For the whole family, of course. I left Sunday morning and drove to Nauvoo, Alabama, visited with Charlie’s wife Carolyn and their sons Patrick, Russell, and Chris, then spent the night with my folks. Once I learned that they were scheduling the funeral later in the week following an autopsy on Monday, I continued with the Anderson University assignment. So, Monday morning, I drove to Anderson, SC, and had a wonderful time Tuesday morning speaking to the student body, then to a group of administrators and pastors.

I’ll pause here long enough to share the gist of my message to the students. This was a missions-oriented service, and everyone knew my message would be related to the New Orleans situation. I said, “I’d like to start a conversation today, one I hope you will continue among yourselves. I’d like to ask you five questions.”

“One. Do you think God knew Hurricane Katrina was going to happen and do the damage that it did? The reason I ask is there is a new theology around called ‘Open Theism’ which claims that since something has not occurred yet, it’s impossible for God to know it.” I shared with them God’s call on my life to become director of missions for the Baptist churches of New Orleans 18 months before Katrina, and the story of Patricia Prechter (told here several days ago) who said God led her to join the National Guard in 1978 so she would be the chief medical officer on duty in the Superdome for those 10 days following Katrina. What do you think, does He know?

“Two. Do you think Katrina was God’s judgement on New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast for sin? Many have said so.” I told them of my letter to the editor in the aftermath of Katrina addressing this, pointing out that I am amazed at the certainty of those who know it was His judgment as well as those who are sure it was not. I suggested it may be; we deserve it; let us seek the Lord. If one says the storm was God’s judgment on New Orleans, he should be prepared to explain why the storm spared the French Quarter and destroyed the poorest section of town. “If the Lord should mark iniquity, who would stand?” Psalm 130:3 puts it well.

“Three. Is Romans 8:28 still in effect?” I told ways in which God had brought good from the destruction of Katrina.

“Four. Are you willing to trust God with your future?” After all, He knows the plans He has for you and you don’t. Can you trust Him?

And five. “Will you pray for us in New Orleans?”

I left Anderson Tuesday around 2:30 and drove straight through to Jackson, Mississippi, arriving around 10 pm dead tired. I was so tired that when two hotels in a row had no non-smoking rooms left, I took a smoking room just to have a bed. Big mistake. I was had trouble breathing all night and determined never to do that again.

Continue reading

Sunday, April 9, in New Orleans

Yesterday, we held the appreciation event for First-Responders in the New Orleans Arena. I have no idea how many of our heroes got the message and attended. Fewer than we had hoped, obviously. But we had a great turnout of volunteers from various churches and the fellowship was great, and the heroes who did attend seem to have been touched by the kindnesses and gifts they received. Thanks to Cherry Blackwell and her team of volunteers for overseeing this.

Saturday was a doubly sad day for our family.

Around 8 o’clock that morning, my sister Patricia called from north Alabama to say that our youngest brother Charlie had had a heart attack and was being rushed to the Jasper hospital. At nine o’clock, she called back to say he did not make it, that he was dead on arrival. We were stunned. Age 62, the youngest of Mom and Dad’s six children. Charlie had lots of health issues and had been on disability for years, but he was not an invalid. In fact, Mom said he was at their house Friday, visiting, being his jovial self.

You can get a good snapshot of Charlie if you go to our website and read his comments left at the end of various articles, usually signed Charles. He always says some variation of how proud they are of me, how he expected no less, how I’m following in the footsteps of our terrific Dad.

Charlie and Carolyn have three sons, Patrick, Russell, and Chris, and I don’t know, maybe 6 grandchildren, including Chris’ triplets. Burial at Nauvoo, Alabama, later this week after the autopsy.

Mickey Brunson died Saturday also. Mrs. W. C. “Bill” Brunson was the receptionist at First Baptist Church of Jackson, MS, in the early 1970s when I was on staff. A dearer, classier, kinder, more gracious human never existed. The funeral is set for Wednesday morning at that church. Depending on when Charlie’s service is set for, I plan to make it.

A double-whammy. If it were not for the promise of the Lord that “whoever believes on the Son of God shall never die,” I don’t know how we could handle these blows.

Turning to the news today….

Continue reading

Good News, Little by Little

We’re always glad to grab on to any good news we can find these days. Here are seven tidbits I’ve noticed, starting with a personal item.

1. Birthday number 94.

My mom and I are on the phone almost every morning, one of the blessings of cell phone technology. Wednesday, we spoke of Dad’s birthday coming up April 13. This will be number 94, if you can believe it. She asked if I had invited readers of this e-mail to send him birthday notes. “Not really,” I said. We’ve done that in the past, but I didn’t want to burden anyone or take advantage. Mom is not one to beat around the bush. She said, “It’s not too late.” Okay, mom.

At Pop’s age and with his various infirmities, the high point of his day is opening the morning mail. So, here’s the address: Carl J. McKeever, 191 County Road 101, Nauvoo, Alabama 35578. And if you happen to find this later and don’t make the April 13 deadline, remember: he reads the mail every day. (A note on any kind of paper carries as much weight with him as a store-bought card, so don’t go to any trouble.)

2. Lifeway returns

Walker Downs, former manager of our Lifeway Christian Store (aka Baptist Book Store) on the campus of our New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, called today to say they’re coming back. “We’ll be open by May 1,” he said. That’s great news. We have missed that store!

“We’ll be hiring an all-new staff,” Walker said, and invites people to apply for the sales and stock positions. How? Go to the website and fill out an application:

I invited the new manager to attend our Wednesday pastors meeting and tell our people about the plans for this “new” store. Welcome back, Lifeway!

3. Suburban Baptist Church is meeting every week now.

Pastor Jeff Box tells me they are running about 40 in attendance each Sunday. They have power and everything, and are meeting in the fellowship hall of their church. They’re located at intersection of Chef Menteur Highway and Schindler Drive in east New Orleans.

Continue reading

The Wednesday Report: Look Who’s Come to Dinner

IMPORTANT NOTE: Saturday, April 8 is our “First-Responders Appreciation Event” in the New Orleans Arena. We’re trying to honor all the medical/military/firefighting/law-enforcement/other people who helped New Orleans survive those first weeks after Katrina. Please help us get word to any you know. Admission is one’s identification tag or badge. We’ll have gifts and prizes and food, all free, of course. The hours are from 10 to 4. The arena is just behind the Superdome. Park in the Dome parking lot for $5.

Today, Wednesday, was the last of our three-hour pastors meetings. Had you told me pre-Katrina that we would be gathering our ministers every week for 3 solid hours of doing nothing but sitting and talking and listening, and that that would go on for over SIX MONTHS! I would have known something unusual must have happened. Next Wednesday, we shorten it one hour and begin at 10 am, closing at noon. We’ll continue at First Baptist-LaPlace through April, then move across the river to Oak Park Baptist Church beginning the first Wednesday in May (from 10 to noon).

At first, this morning, I thought the pastors were sending us a message that these meetings had about run their course. We have known all along that when that time comes–as it will–the way we will know is by the decline in attendance. We got underway with no more than a dozen present. But by the time we reluctantly closed the meeting at 11:40, the room was packed and no one wanted to leave. I was one o’clock getting away. It was evident we’re still addressing some real needs here. Several said this was the best meeting yet.

Boogie Melerine had 70 at Delacrois Hope last Sunday. They’re still meeting in a shed. Some had to sit on buckets, they’d run out of chairs. Grace is running 40 or more. The Brazilian mission at Emmanuel is running 70. Getsemani is running 40 in Frost Chapel at the seminary, and Alberto is about to baptize some in classroom 101, in the small baptistry normally used for baptism demonstrations rather than the real thing. A number of those present raved about the Sunday night presentation of the praise music from the choir and orchestra of FBC Jackson, Mississippi.

The last hour of our session was devoted to a visit from Dr. Bill Taylor of the North American Mission Board, but recently retired from Lifeway as the director of church education (or some similar title; a lot of us call him “Mr. Sunday School”). Bill has a resume like few other ministers. Before heading up Sunday School for 40,000 SBC churches, he served on the church staffs of Roswell St. in Marietta, FBC LaFayette, Prestonwood in Dallas, and several other great churches. Early, he was making the point that he had served under pastors like Nelson Price, Perry Sanders, Jack Graham, and a couple of others whose names escape me now, all equally well-known throughout the SBC. He said, “They were all great pastors.” And in my heckling way, I said, “And with huge egos.” It got a laugh, which was all I was looking for, and he said, “No, I never worked with Joe McKeever.” (That brought a bigger laugh.)

Bill and his team of visiting educators (I listed them in the previous article) have been visiting the churches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and listening to the ministers, and that was the plan here today. “We’ve not come to do anything for you,” he said, “but to listen. We want to hear what your needs are, your frustrations, your situation. And we’ll go back and think it through and see what the Lord tells us as to how we can help your churches.” They are well aware of the fatigue factor, here and with our Mississippi colleagues. So many “experts” want to come to help, but they need you to put them up, provide for them, and come to their meetings. “We will not do that to you.”

Continue reading

It’s About Time

A friend who is working on our church history was surprised today to learn that I kept a daily record of every day of the decade of the 1990s. Since I came to pastor the First Baptist Church of Kenner in September of 1990 and stayed for nearly 14 years, that means the 46 “wordless books” which I filled with my nightly journaling are a great repository of information on the church during those years. But under no circumstances would I let anyone see it. Not for years to come. I told him, “I called names. Some of that would be embarrassing to people.”

I told the church when I resigned two years ago about this decade-long journal and said, “Twenty-five years from now, anyone working on the church’s history may read it.” But not until.

I have kept my yearly calendars and promised my friend to go through them and make a few notes on the high points of each year. On Monday, I went through 6 years in an hour. And got an education.

It’s like fast-forwarding your life. You see what you left out of your ministry and what pops up too frequently. I noted, for example, the days I was sick. Back trouble here and flu there. Two or three times a year, several days at a time. But that was in the early years of the 1990s. No more.

Sometime in the mid-90s, I decided to go against the male pattern and find me a doctor. Men, they say, fear doctors and resist going for checkups. But in my mid-50s, I knew it was high time. My new doctor examined me thoroughly and prescribed a regimen of vitamins and minerals, as well as a baby aspirin a day, and pronounced, “I think we have saved you from a heart attack.” Then, I took it one step further.

I got serious about exercise. Instead of the occasional nighttime walk around my block, I stepped off a three mile route from home to the Mississippi River levee and down it and back. Three miles, 45 minutes. Every morning early. Then I bought some small weights and worked up a routine on the rug in front of the fireplace. I suppose we could call them home-made exercises, because I didn’t invite a professional trainer in. I didn’t buy anyone’s video. I just worked up some stretching/lifting/pushing to exercise the various parts of my body. It normally takes about 15 minutes, and often I do it both morning and night. The results were worthwhile.

Continue reading

Awards and Honors in our City

(Please invite every “first responder” you know–the medical/military/law enforcement/firefighting workers who served New Orleans during it’s first few weeks after the hurricane–to our Appreciation Event at the New Orleans Arena this Saturday, April 8. The arena is open from 10 to 4 and we’ll have lots of family events going on. First Reponders get in with their I.D.s as admission, and later in the day, we’ll draw for a new car. Our main difficulty is getting word to everyone.)

Fred Luter is back. This exciting pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, so devastated by six to eight feet of floodwater, has been living in Birmingham since Katrina and spending a lot of time in and out of airports and on the interstates. He served on Mayor Nagin’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission and has been preaching in major cities and conventions all over the country. These days, he preaches at 8 am to his congregation meeting temporarily at the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, then later in the morning to another group at one of Baton Rouge’s largest churches, and twice a month to his folks in Houston at the First Baptist Church there.

Sunday night, he told me, “We had 1500 here at FBC-NO this morning. And probably 600-700 in Baton Rouge. And about the same number in Houston twice a month.” For a dispersed congregation without a meeting place, they are making the most of a difficult situation. Fred is the moderator for our Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans, and we’re eager to have him attending our weekly pastors meetings.

Those pastors meetings–tell every pastor in our area you see–will continue at the FBC of LaPlace through April, then move to Oak Park Baptist Church in Algiers on May 3, meeting from 10 to noon, with lunch at 11:30.

Sunday night, April 2, the incredible choir and orchestra of the FBC of Jackson, Mississippi, brought an evening of inspiration at the FBC of New Orleans. The local choir joined the Jackson group, making a choir of several hundred. These friends had boarded buses Sunday after morning church and ridden three hours to get here. After the program, they rode back home. Most did not get home until after midnight, and went into work Monday morning sleepwalking. But how they blessed us. Just their presence was a-plenty, but the musical program was so stirring.

Among the participants was Professor Benjamin “Benjie” Harlan, one of God’s great personalities and a well-known composer of Christian music. Dr. Graham Smith, retired (I think) from the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, did recitations from James Weldon Johnson’s “God’s Trombones,” sure to stir anyone’s heart. I handed him a cartoon in which someone is commenting that James Weldon Johnson showed up tonight and did his best Graham Smith imitation. Listening to Graham, I found myself hoping some young people were being awakened to the power of the human voice in announcing God’s truth. I can still remember the time this really hit me. I was a student in seminary, we’re talking the 1960s here, when Professor Wilbur Swartz stood in chapel and read from the Gospel of John, chapter 1. Until then, I had no idea that passage was as deeply moving as it became that day. Bible reading for me has never been the same. Graham Smith has the kind of power in his voice to awaken young believers.

Continue reading

Deja vu all over again

They’re making a big Hollywood movie in town these days, and disrupting our disrupted lives. They close lanes on the bridge over the river some days and other days, take over the ferry which runs from the foot of Canal Street to Algiers. Lots of big explosives and plenty of extras hired. The word is that this is a sci-fi movie starring Denzel Washington in which he has this “second sight,” hence the name Deja vu, which alerts him to the work of terrorists before it occurs so he can stop it. Oh, that it worked that way.

Every day we relive our Katrina story all over again, even while trying to move into the future.

A typical day’s headline stories will describe efforts to save our eroding wetlands, the deal-making over the towing of the thousands of flood-ruined cars in New Orleans, and Katrina-affected politics. Lots of politics. In Kenner, Saturday, voters put Mayor Phil Capitano in a run-off against former councilmember Ed Muniz, the mayor with 30% and Muniz with 33%. Retiring Police Chief Nick Congemi was an also-ran at 27%.

In New Orleans, each of the 23 candidates for April 22’s mayoral election is still trying to break out of the pack.

Columnist Stephanie Grace writes Sunday that originally Mayor Nagin was a shoo-in for reelection. Then Katrina gave him more challenges than he knew what to do about and scattered the electorate across America and suddenly he looked vulnerable. Campaign funders went looking for alternatives and honed in on Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and Audubon Nature Institute’s CEO Ron Forman. What they did not count on was both men running. Meanwhile, she says, no one paid any attention to two lesser knowns, Rob Couhig and Virginia Boulet.

So, in the mayoral debates, while the front-runners were boring us with their platitudes, so afraid to slip up that they refrained from saying anything, Couhig and Boulet did something unusual: they told us what they thought. “They’ve done it by talking about policy, sharply questioning their opponents and, most of all, airing their personal frustrations.” Good for them. And in the long run, good for all of us. Maybe they will start a trend.

Saturday saw a big march across the Crescent City Connection, the double bridge over the river into Algiers and Gretna, led by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, a couple of Reverends always in search of a cause. They called this a reminder of the September 1 incident when Gretna police turned away New Orleanians fleeing the flooding of their city. Since they were walking, they decided to protest the April 22 election which, they say, strips evacuated citizens of their voting rights. The courts and respected leaders have pointed out that while this election may not be perfect, it’s fair and legal and the right thing to do. Those scattered throughout Louisiana will have branch election sites, and those outside have received invitations to vote absentee. Secretary of State Al Ater says Jackson and others want him to set up voting sites in Houston, Memphis, and Atlanta, but he accurately points out that the laws governing Louisiana do not necessary apply in those other states. If someone votes fraudulently, will the Tennessee cops arrest him for violating Louisiana law?

Citizen Bill Davis writes in a Sunday letter, “My constitutional rights will be violated if people who have lived elsewhere for eight months are allowed to vote in the upcoming elections.” He says, “The vast majority of the remaining evacuees will not be coming back anytime soon…. It is unfair for us to be governed by people elected by those who are no longer residents of our city.”

On another subject, Jarvis DeBerry writes in his op-ed column, “Skyrocketing cost of insurance could cripple recovery.” That’s been my thought all along, that regardless what our politicians say, if a homeowner cannot get insurance or can’t afford it, his rebuilding ends right there on the spot.

In Saturday’s paper, someone pointed out a new thought for me. With, say, 100,000 homes in New Orleans lying unoccupied and spoiled, who’s going to cut the grass in the yards? The growing season is well upon us, which in New Orleans means lawns will require mowing almost weekly. With tall grass comes all kinds of vermin. One more headache which we do not need.

I wrote here Saturday evening that the Final Four basketball playoffs were a welcome respite for our citizens. Well, hardly. We watched as Florida demolished upstart George Mason University in the late afternoon, and then had the privilege of watching UCLA hand LSU its head in the evening contest. Neither game was even close. Sunday morning in a 30 minute local news broadcast, not one word was uttered about the LSU loss. I suppose it hurts too bad. The LSU women are in their own Final Four, with their game Sunday night. Go, Lady Tigers.

Sunday morning at Oak Park Baptist Church in Algiers, a large team of volunteers from the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, SC, was on hand. With special guest speaker (and member of Oak Park) Col. Patricia Prechter of the National Guard to speak of her experiences in the Superdome during the Katrina event, a large group of her friends and people from the community came, making it the largest crowd in that sanctuary since the hurricane scattered the congregation.

If one likes titles, Pat Prechter is to be envied. She is Colonel, Dean, Doctor, and a lot of other things. According to Lt. Col. Marie McGregor, she is the first and only “full bird colonel” in the Medical Detachment of the La. National Guard. Academic Dean Judith Miranti of Holy Cross College, where Prechter is Dean of the Nursing School, said, “I make no claims about Pat being a steel magnolia. But it is her faith that has made her service so special.”

Continue reading