“Dear Joe: Enclosed is our check for $3,319.72. During the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina, Boulevard Baptist Church in Lake Charles was an evacuee site. A church in Decatur, Illinois sent them $4,000 to minister to Katrina’s evacuees. This is the remainder of those funds, unused due to Hurricane Rita coming to town.”
They sent the money in our direction so we could use it to minister to churches and pastors. Lynn in our office and I talked of several congregations in our association, then sent checks of $1,000 to three churches and a check for the remaining $319.72 to one of our pastors who will find a good use for it.
Such fun. One of my favorite things to do. I’ll be writing a thank-you to Boulevard Baptist Church in Lake Charles and to their director of missions, my counterpart, J. P. Miles.
This afternoon, I wrote a thank-you to the Presbytery of South Louisiana. Those Presbyterians have quickly become some of our favorite people.
I’ve mentioned here how Pastor James “Boogie” Melerine of the Delacroix-Hope Baptist Church in St. Bernard Parish has seen his church attendance triple since Katrina, from 25 to 75, and that they’re now meeting on his property while they look for a place to meet permanently. The little Creedmore Presbyterian Church down there has seen its membership dwindle over the years, and drastically as a result of Katrina. Boogie has talked to the remaining members about merging and investigated the possibility of buying the church buildings.
Today, Wednesday, Boogie brought a letter to our weekly pastors meeting, one he had received from The Rev. Dr. Alan Cutter, General Presbyter of the Presbytery of South Louisiana, headquartered in Baton Rouge. Here’s the letter. You will recognize the final sentence as the one that drew the murmurs of appreciation from the 50 or so ministers and guests present.
“One of the churches of the Presbytery of South Louisiana, the Creedmore Presbyterian Church in St. Bernard Parish, was severely damaged by the storms of 2005. The Presbytery has received funds to help repair the church. After these funds are expended and accounted for, it is the intention of the Presbytery to have representatives meet with the Session and Congregation of the church and, if they so desire as they presently have affirmed, to transfer their memberships to the Delacroix Baptist Church. Then the Presbytery of South Louisiana, in the interest of having a continuing and vibrant Christian ministry in the community, intends, if the way be clear, to transfer ownership of the property to the Delacroix Baptist Church. (signed) Alan Cutter.”
We are still rather amazed at such a display of Christlikeness. They are using the insurance money to repair the church, then they will transfer the membership of the remaining members to the Baptist church and sign over the property to the church also.
I wrote Dr. Cutter that when we have churches going out of business or relocating, I’ve sometimes encouraged them to consider donating their property to some congregation that needs it. “So far,” I said, “no one has taken me up on it, although some have dropped their prices drastically. But you have set the standard.”
And I hope you notice that they are doing this across denominational lines. And as a little footnote, you will be interested to know that this presbytery is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the more liberal segment of this denomination.
They’re liberal all right. Liberal in their gifts in our direction. And we sincerely thank them.
We had a little birthday celebration in the middle of our Wednesday pastors meeting. This being my 67th anniversary of being born–hey, no secrets around here; the white hair gives me away–they interrupted the meeting to bring in this big cake with, thankfully, only maybe a dozen candles. They sang and I blushed and we ate cake. Then David Crosby, pastor of the FBC of New Orleans, came in. It’s his birthday, too. I turned 13 the day he was born. So we sang to him.
Kevin Lee of Edgewater Baptist Church introduced a young friend visiting with their church, Lora or Laura, and today was her birthday. So we sang to her. Later, I told them that according to the newspaper, today is the 52nd birthday of Reba McEntire and “I’ve been watching all morning to see if she was going to walk in.” She didn’t. Shucks.
This morning, my 10-year-old granddaughters woke me up to sing “Happy Birthday.” They’ve been asking for weeks if I was excited about having a birthday. When you’re their age, every birthday is an event. I told them the truth, that if they had not reminded me, I would have forgotten it. These things have a way of coming too rapidly and running together. The next birthday should be here in a couple of weeks.
But I’m thankful for each of these years. Thankful for my incredible, loving family. And grateful beyond words for the assignment the Father has given me for these years in the life of our association of Baptist churches. On behalf of our churches and pastors and staffs, we are so blessed to have friends from one end of this country to the other, partners who are bound and determined not to leave us alone in the middle of our rebuilding. Thank you, blessed friends.
I have two more years on my five-year commitment as the director of missions for BAGNO, and am so glad. I am not close to being ready to hang it up.
Instead of printing the full report of our pastors meeting here, I’ll direct you to our associational website, www.bagnola.org, where Lynn Gehrmann has posted notes she took.