Monday, August 30, 2010

Five years later: church recalls its fight against Hurricane Katrina

It's been five years since Hurricane Katrina tore its way through southeastern Louisiana, as well as the rest of the Gulf Coast. During the storm, 1,800 deaths were reported, many thousands were left homeless, and New Orleans experienced a 53.9-percent drop in population (between April 2000 and July 2006). In addition, more than $81 billion in property was destroyed, which makes Katrina America's most costly disaster ever.

The Rev. Dennis Watson is the pastor of the Celebration Church, situated in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans along the east bank of the Mississippi River. Pastor Watson recounts his congregation's struggle to stay together in the face of overwhelming odds, and to serve God through the most difficult of pastoral challenges. The church dedicated its new facilities on 17 acres within the Lakeside District of New Orleans in 2004. However, Lakeside flooded and the levees couldn't hold against the force of Katrina.

For Pastor Watson and his congregation, their joint challenges to reclaim the church turned out to be a "teachable moment" that speaks to the endurance of the human spirit and the power of God's grace.

The New York Theological Seminary is dedicated to multiculturalism, diversity, religious tolerance and social justice. The mission of the seminary is to prepare men and women, from every walk of life, for careers in ministry.

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