Katrina Disaster Brings Together Denominations, Faith Groups

Christian leaders that normally stand on opposite ends of the theological spectrum gave a united cry for those suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last week.

"The devastation is so severe and the situation is so desperate that I'm sending out a spiritual S.O.S. to Christians of all faiths to come…” said Bobby Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), according to Baptist Press.

Everyone from the conservative Welch to the more liberal Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A, urged their congregants to give prayers, gifts and physical aid, and grab hold of the chance to put Christian servant-hood into practice.

"This is the kind of ministry that's so urgently needed because it points people to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," Welch said, according to BP. "We need to pray, pray, pray, give, give, give, and go, go, go as we never ever have in all of our convention's history for the sake of lost and dying souls, for the sake of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God.”

Kirkpatrick echoed the call in his Sept. 2 letter to Presbyterian churches across the nation.

“We ask you to join us in prayer for those who have lost loved ones and much more; for those who are still stranded in devastated areas,” he wrote.

Katrina also hit Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques, opening a chance for faith-groups to work together. This unity among faith groups was seen during a meeting convened by the Louisiana Interchurch Council in Baton Rouge, La., in the days following the flood.

John McCullough, executive director of the Church World Service, said during the meeting that cooperation among different faith groups must be an imperative in the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, some of the Christian leaders began addressing philosophical questions about God in the same way they tackled questions concerning the devastating tsunami last year.

“We cannot answer why such tragedies happen. What we can do is speak with the sure and certain conviction deep in our souls that God is present in the midst of the pain and panic, and that God will continue to be present each and every hour. God’s faithfulness will endure,” Kirkpatrick wrote.

Denton Lotz, Secretary General of the Baptist World Alliance, explained that God is alive despite the darkness that seems to prevail in the South.

“Yes, we believe that God is present in New Orleans and all the other suffering cities in the actions and lives of those who are on the ground representing Jesus’ hands and feet,” said Lotz. “God is indeed present through the mission and activity of His people. That is the way it has always been. We are not alone, but through the power of the community of faith God’s presence is realized! That’s what the incarnation is all about!”

Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, quoted a passage of comfort from the Bible, in his letter to the congregants.

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” he wrote.

And Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Coordinator of the World Evangelical Alliance, offered a prayer list for the victims and relief workers who are fighting against time.

“We call on Christians across the globe to remember these suffering ones in your prayers and to respond generously toward the relief interventions,” Tunnicliffe wrote in a letter.

The prayer list included prayer for “courage and comfort to people still trapped by the flood waters; rapid deployment of relief supplies – food, water, medical supplies, and clothes; courage for Police and National Guard who are seeking to restore order and provide security; guidance for Pastors, church leaders and lay people as they seek to provide spiritual counsel and help; and an end to the violence and a spirit of lawfulness on the part of all.

Nearly all denominations and faith groups are responding to Katrina. Ask your local church or visit www.christianpost.com/katrina