Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Not death, but life

This letter is from Duncan Gray III, Bishop of Mississippi and was released Wednesday, August 31 at 4:05 p.m.

Hurricane Katrina

Our state has experienced a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. Long time residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast have noted that the damage and facilities from the storm will far exceed that of Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Thousands have lost their homes and those holy places of worship to which they have instinctively gone in times of crisis. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that at least six Episcopal Churches have been totally destroyed with serious damage to many others. It is a time of deep shock and grief and tears.

And it is a time of hope. Hundreds of Episcopalians from throughout this country have called offering help in many forms. Episcopal Relief and Development has provided immediate financial assistance. Our short and long term relief efforts will be coordinated through our newly formed Lutheran-Episcopal Services of Mississippi. Relief staging areas are being set up at Ascension Lutheran in Jackson and Church of the Ascension (Episcopal) in Hattiesburg. And yet there is a deeper foundation of hope. As Christians, we understand the power of death. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina brings us face to face with the reality of death and the despair when hope seems crushed. But we are a people of both the Cross and the Resurrection.

The last word from God is not death, but life. God uses the open hearts, minds and lives of faithful souls to renew, restore and redeem that which seems beyond hope.

We will work hand in hand with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild their homes and their churches. We will walk with them as bearers of hope through the work of our Crucified Lord. He has borne our grief, brought our sorrows into His heart and has become for us the vehicle and means for life and hope.

We are His witnesses. We shall be faithful.
The damage report for the Diocese at that point said:

St. Peter's, Gulfport
St. Mark's, Gulfport
Redeemer, Biloxi
Christ, Bay St. Louis
Trinity, Pass Christian
St. Patrick's, Long Beach

St. Thomas, Diamondhead
Mediator/Redeemer, McComb/Magnolia

St. Pierre's, Gautier
St. Paul's, Picayune
St. John's, Pascagoula
St. John's, Ocean Springs
St. Stephen's, Columbia

The report on coastal clergy noted two priests whose homes were destroyed. Their congregations will have suffered similarly. No similar update is currently available from the Diocese of Louisiana.

The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, in an August 31 message to all bishops, clergy and congregations, called for "a community united in prayer and service during this time."

Griswold said, "At this time let us be exceedingly mindful that bearing one another's burdens and sharing one another's suffering is integral to being members of Christ's body. I call upon every member of our church to reach out in prayer and tangible support to our brothers and sisters as they live through these overwhelming days of loss and begin to face the difficult challenges of the future."

Episcopal Relief and Development sent immediate aid in the form of $50,000 to the Diocese of Louisiana, $20,000 to the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast, and $7,500 to the Diocese of Western Louisiana. Other funds will be sent to the Diocese of Mississippi.

An article on what the Episcopal Church is doing to respond is found online here. Donations may be made through Episcopal Relief and Development.

Donate to assist Hurricane Katrina victims


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