Bitterness, despair and confusion mixed with hope, joy and gratitude during church services held across the nation Sunday, the first Sabbath after Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf-coast cities.
In Biloxi, Miss., where Katrina ripped apart walls and tore-down roofs, members of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer came to the place where their church once stood, with lawn chairs and blankets at hand. They sat nervously, sifting through rubble, but thanked God and asked for the strength to get them through the aftermath.
"Rejoice in hope. Be patient in suffering. Persevere in prayer," said Father Harold Roberts to the flock, according to AP.
In Chicago, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. of Trinity United Church of Christ called on his flock to give to those who were stranded and suffering.
"May the gifts we give remind them that somebody cares," Wright said, according to AP. "The more you give, the more the Lord gives to you."
Millions have already been collected through the joint efforts of churches across the nation, and dozens of denominations have made public calls for prayer, reflection and financial assistance for those recovering. Many churches opened their doors and turned their activity rooms into make-shift shelters to temporarily house those who lost everything.
This spirit of mourning and hope led many to church on Sunday.
"I saw those people who were just like my own mother. I saw those babies. I cannot be silent," Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, which has already pledged $100,000, according to AP.
With hope and prayer, the congregants looked toward brighter days.
"God is with us, God will bring us through this," Rev. Roberts said. "This church has been through this before and we will rise again."