Thursday, December 22, 2005

Some links of interest

The Coast newspaper, the Sun Herald, has done an amazing job since Katrina (and the same can be said for our local TV station - WLOX). Like so many other businesses on the Coast, they have run with a skeleton staff, all of which were suffering from great loss. For weeks and weeeks after the storm they distributed the paper free all over the coast. The information was so needed and timely and was often the only way we knew about things going on, aid that was coming, drinking water safety (HEY - I CAN DRINK MY WATER NOW....WOOHOO), etc.
There are two links I want you to look at if you have time. The first is a series of before and after images. Once you get to the link, scroll down to select various scenes. I know most of you are not familiar with these properties, but you can still get a feel for the destruction. You need to realize as you look at a picture, that the same destruction extends the length of our Coast, especially from Waveland (near New Orleans) to Biloxi. It's the same view over and over again. Click HERE .

The other is an editorial that echoes some of my own thoughts. As I have traveled around preaching and talking about our situation, I am constantly being told by folks "we had no idea how bad it was in Mississippi". The focus on New Orleans really has taken attention away from us, the editorial speaks of a true thing, for I have run across this time and again. In addition, there are some stats at the bottom that help folks understand how bad it truly is. I use these wherever I go as well. Click HERE .

I am so appreciative of all the support and prayers from all over the country. It is overwhelming. The body of Christ continues to be present in powerful ways for us. This will be a strange Christmas for sure. We will gather at the local Lutheran church on Christmas Eve. We will celebrate the Greatest Christmas Ever. Pray for my folks, they are in a slump as the holidays overpower us. During this sermon , (ignore the wrongly named file, it IS from Year B) I absolved them from feeling guilty about not producing a "normal" Christmas, I hope they were able to receive that.
Blessings to all....Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Waiting and watching...

So easy to preach Advent this year. We are all forced to be living testimonies to waiting and watching....on many days it's all we do.
I was very proud of our local gov. folks giving it to Congress in hearings this week. Much of the recovery work has slowed or has not even started because we cannot get funding. The GREAT FEAR of being forgotten looms over us, and the reaction of congress-people from other areas is disheartening. I wish they would all come for a visit, see it for yourselves, work in the relief center, talk to the folks still coming for the basics of life. Spend the night in a FEMA travel trailer with 6 family members, if they dare, or better yet on a tent on a slab because you STILL WAIT for the trailer long promised, which they can't deliver, by the way, because the debris they promised to move off your lot 4 weeks ago still sits.
The job is TOO massive folks. It will take more time and more resources and more people and more money than ANYTHING WE'VE EVER HAD TO DO BEFORE. You can't judge by past storms, you can't judge by the 4 that hit Florida last year, one Katrina has done more than all those combined and then some.
So we wait....and watch.....and wonder if anything we are doing is the right thing....

Sermons here

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Trailer Time

My office trailer has been setup! A bunch of great volunteers moved it last week. The furniture has been installed. We just need ELECTRICITY to be functional. Maybe soon....
I posted last time about media blitz - and now there is MORE. My LW and I and George Werner are on the cover of our diocesan newspaper and the same pic is page 2 of Episcopal Life. Plus the LW's pic with this so cute baby in the medical clinic is on a full page add from erd. Sigh, the paparazzi are all over us!
We spent Thanksgiving in SE Florida with family, then traveled to Marco Island on the SW Coast where I preached on Sunday. Their rector is the former rector of my church and he has been incredibly supportive and involved in our recovery. If you go here you can listen to that sermon (and others).
Restore us o God, let your face shine, that we may be saved.....
Again the Psalms speak to me in this terrible time.

Thank you all for your prayers and continued support. They mean more they I can say.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Media Star and Seminary Friends

It's been a very interesting few days. It's Seabury Reunion time at Camp Coast Care. One classmate arrived last Friday and two others came on Monday, a fourth arrives tomorrow. They are all WORKING VERY HARD! I am so proud of them, and so very grateful that they are here. It is interesting, also, to preach in front of them, but mostly it's FUN.
They are so helpful to me. I tell people all the time that I don't have a &^%$* clue what I am doing. Bouncing things off of good friends whose advice I covet and appreciate is helping me with some struggles. Plus, I can let off steam around them and be comforted.
Today I drove two of them around the beach area, with a parishioner of one. I have made that journey countless times since Aug 29, but it is still hard. I am a little numb to the damage, and today I could even see some signs of advanced debris cleanup, but the task is SO huge. Couple that with the unexpected cold snap, and folks around here are deeply struggling. And I confess - I am whipped. I am tired and confused and drained and questioning. The hugs from friends are much needed these days.
As to "media star", my very unflattering picture is on the cover of both the Arizona Episcopalian and the Virginia Episcopalian - and today I was interviewed by the local newspaper. I am SURE I will be misquoted (that's my excuse and I am sticking to it). Anyway, it is very, very WEIRD to be in those papers, and I have received calls already from people and churches in both dioceses wanting to help. So THANKS to my unknown Arizona and Virginia friends!

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I think I've mentioned before how different preaching is these days. Not just from the post-hurricane standpoint, but also because we often have 40 or more guests - volunteers serving at our relief center. They live in the gym where we hold services. They bring energy and enthusiasm to the service, they laugh at my old jokes, and they cry - a LOT.
We are blessed to have them and they influence what I say each week.
Last Sunday's All Saint's sermon included the volunteers in a big way. I will post a link when it gets online (yes, I am audio recording sermons again).

Jane Ellen asked me to post the new congregational prayer. It is glommed from various sources, some to do with new church plants, some with new buildings, etc. We will use it for church services and vestry meetings. I have asked my vestry to keep it in their cars and pray it as they investigate various real estate properties around town as potential church sites. It is posted below.
Meanwhile, please keep praying and coming. The work is so long and hard and overwhelming. I was back at church site today. It is still so hard to go there. The debris and the smell and the absolute RIDICULOUSNESS of how much is destroyed is beyond the senses.
FEMA reported today that Katrina had the highest ever recorded storm surge - over 35 feet in Pass Christian, which is where I live and 5 miles from my church. We never had a chance. The surge was more than 10 feet higher than Camille, the previous monster storm. All the more reason to pray:

O Lord God of Israel, the heavens cannot contain you, yet
you are pleased to dwell in the midst of your people, and
have moved us to set apart a space on which to rebuild a house
of prayer: Send us your Spirit, that we may learn what you would have us do and the words and
witness you would have us offer, Guide us as we continue your work;
show us the field in which to plant that your Kingdom may come and your power be revealed in this community; to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

So many Saints, so little time

Lots of activity on the church rebuild front this week....
The folks who run the Industrial Park very near where we currently meet at the school, have graciously allotted us over 2 acres to use for a temporary location! This is most exciting. We will move the office trailer over there next week, and should be able to occupy it by the end of the week. Next up - finding temporary worship space to put on the same property.
Meanwhile we are awaiting word from gov. officials regarding feasibility of rebuilding on the beach site, and we are also checking out property north of the beach should we so choose. I put together a prayer, glommed from several sources, for our folks to use during this time of discernment over where we should build.
The relief center and medical clinic are actually busier now than ever. Probably because many other such sites have closed recently.
CNN and Time want to interview my LW, who has made this miracle happen at the medical clinic. It is amazing what has gone on and the numbers of people served.
Saints fill our relief center everyday. They come from all over and each is changed by their being here. The gospel gets preached powerfully 24 X 7. I am privileged to get to watch and listen.
More seminary friends are coming soon - YEA! And our new friend, Jen H. left Thursday (booo!). She was the perfect saint - working in the clinic during the day and doing stuff for us around the house at night, laundry, cleaning, etc. What a blessing she is to us! COME BACK SOON!
CNN has been running more stuff on the Miss. recovery, including a video diary by a senior at Long Beach High School (Long Beach is where my church was / is). If you missed it, some of the video is on It will make you cry.
See ya, Saints...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Let them bring me to your holy hill

I know it's been a little while since posting. The days and weeks all run together.
Since I last wrote, the LW and I had a wonderful trip to California. There I officiated her brother's wedding in Napa Valley, preached at one church, did a Q&A at another, and met with two others. We were able to raise awareness and money for ST. Patrick's and the Gulf Coast. Plus, at the end of all the "work", LW and I had two very nice days in Oakland and in the Valley.
And, the truth is, it was VERY hard to come back home.
Meanwhile we plug along. My vestry has begun pushing for us to make some decisions on where to build and when. We have begun evaluating land, talking to officials about the feasibility of the former site, and looking at temporary office and worship space. Some good news on that over the weekend that I hope to report soon. I have underestimated the importance to my people-in-exile of having a church home, where we are not the visitors every Sunday morning. So I am now clear on that, and we will resolve that soon, I hope. Many of our adopting / partnering churches are ready to help make that happen as well.
In addition to all of your prayers for our church and people, please pray for my parents. My father is facing some difficult health problems, and over the weekend that became even more apparent. We see some docs tomorrow. My mother is a wonderful care giver, but this will be an enormous challenge.
Speaking of prayer, that is my sermon for today. I will talk about praying - and my own struggle with prayer post-Katrina. I am reminded of John Drebilbis (beloved Seabury prof) who often asked me "how is your soul"?
I do pray. But I struggle to PRAY....I don't know if that makes sense or not. But I am committed to following Jesus' example of praying through all things, of carving out that special time of communing with God, of being led by the Light and the Truth that is Jesus Christ, led to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. How then can my soul be cast down, disquieted?

That's the sermon. I wing them mostly these days, although I am again recording them and posting to our web site. The idea is above, what will come out I am not sure of. I am sure of this - we must pray.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Six Weeks.....forgotten????

We have officially entered the "despair zone", and of great concern to me is how the focus of our nation seems to have moved on. Not to say that the recent disasters in Pakistan and Mexico shouldn't take up much needed attention and appeals for help. But debates over woefully inexperienced Court appointees, and etc. now occupy much of the media's attention. I wonder if those outside our region have a clue of the desperate situation we are in.
While some areas of the Coast are up and running, with a few businesses getting online, we still are in a stage of mass destruction cleanup and the need for the basics of life. Our relief center continues to see 100s a day, and we are very short on food and other supplies. We send appeals out now (we didn't have to for a long time), as folks need the free food so they can spend what litle money they have on other things. Many are jobless, with not much hope on that front in the short term.
I know this is not the most popular of blogs in the internet world, but I did seem to have a lot more visitors leaving comments in the early days of Katrina recovery. I don't see that any more. And as I puruse the blogs that I read most often, rarely is the storm mentioned any more. Being forgotten worries me more than the threat of more storms. This will be a long, long haul folks. Keep us in your prayers. Keep coming to help. Keep helping us think of how to put it back together again.

I will be in California this weekend. It was a pre-storm scheduled trip to do a family wedding, but now while there I am visiting several churches in the Bay Area to talk about Katrina and to raise money for the recovery efforts. Plus, the LW and I get a chance to escape the madness for a few days, and for our sanity we must do so from time to time. Problem is, we have to come back. Just typing that depresses me. This is the challenge of a life time. Don't forget us.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Doctors Without Orders

First, for those who wanted to see the sermon for Oct 2nd, click HERE. I did not record it and the Word file is just what I remember from what I said.

I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of my LW (seen in the clinic at right). Right after the hurricane she decided what we needed was a free medical clinic - this was two days post-storm (mainly because she knows how to do medical missions, she no longer has a job - clinic destroyed and no jobs in town). After I asked the Bishop for permission, she ran with it. Having been on Honduras Medical Missions for years, she knew how to get a clinic up and going. Our Diocesan Panama Misison sent meds and supplies to get us started (and their team is working here this week). From our relief center she somehow connected with a group from Meridian that came down and got us going. A group from Charlottesville, VA came too (they were GREAT). Following them came Duke University ( wonderful team). The U of Miami now sends a group weekly - all hard workers. We've had docs and nurses and pharmacists from Canada, Indiana, Kansas....on and on the list goes. They began seeing 300 patients a day, it's around 125 now. They now go out in vans to mobile sites - FEMA trailer cities where people have been deposited with no food, no cars, no gas, no medical, no NOTHING. We have found 3 such sites this week and send supplies and medical personnel to them. It's very sad.
Anyway, I find myself very impressed with the medical community in America. So many have come, not just to our clinic but also to many others on the coast, giving of time and meds and skills to help us in our need. Bless them all. But mostly, I am impressed with my wife. From deep tragedy she saw a way to use the gifts God has given her, and the result is that literally thousands of people have gotten medical care these 5 weeks. She is amazing.
The folks working our medical clinic gave themselves the name "Doctors without Orders". Another group preferred "Doctors without Lawyers". Either way, thanks for coming. We need you. We need you bad.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


As reported in KAT 6, my LW and I spent a weekend (not the one just completed but the one before) in North Miss. with our daughter, and attended a football game. On Sunday, we ran from tornados - the remnants of Hurricane Rita. We were staying in a mobile home and as the weather worsened we left for our friend's house. Meanwhile, a twister touched down on the college campus, wrecking their cafeteria, two blocks from where my daughter was huddled in the basement of her dorm. Over 350 tornado warnings were issued that day in the area we were in! Hurricanes, tornados,....what's next? I got a note from friends in California asking me NOT TO COME! Thankfully no one was killed by all the bad storms.

The days continue to all run together. The last 4 or 5 especially. My LW and I were awakened at 3:30 Sat morning by the phone - our college attending middle child called to tell us a young man whom she had been seeing (for a short time) had been killed - hit by a drunk driver as he crossed the street. My daughter had talked to him on the phone an hour before. Funeral is today. My heart breaks for his family, and of course for my child who is devestated.
Two of my three vehicles broke down this week. I was able to afford repairs on one, and after picking it up I had a blow out on the Interstate. A very nice policeman stopped to help (I discovered I did not have a jack in the trunk). The spare tire, which was in the trunk when I bought this piece of *** car, did NOT FIT! The policeman took me to a tire store and I was able to get something to put on the car. (There are LOTS of tire problems down here as you can imagine, we are still running over debris, including LOTS of roofing nails - their are shingles EVERYWHERE). I thank Gulfport policeman Dave for his generous assistance.
Our relief center is serving over 1200 people a day, and the free medical clinic between 170 and 250 a day. We thought the need would have slowed by now, but it is instead increasing. Our volunteer force really dwindles on weekends, but we had a full house last night (around 100 people). We need them all.
We are 5 weeks post-storm. I sense much more despair now than before. The adrenalin rush no longer carries folks through the days. As they face the enormous, long, impossible tasks in front of them, and struggle with insurance adjusters and FEMA and Red Cross (has their ever been a charity with so much funding and so incapable of using it?) their patience is exhausted. We go through trucks and trucks of food supplies, because people without jobs are afraid to spend money on groceries. It's getting harder.....
Yet as 130 of us gathered for church in the school gym on Sunday, their were smiles, laughs, and a lot of tears. I have been asked to recreate my sermon, I will let you know where that will be. The Palm Pilot I used to use to record them was a storm victim, so I don't have a sound file. It was from the heart but I need to try and type up some recollection of it. I was interviewed on BBC radio after the service and the reporter was very moved and asked me to repeat much of my words in the interview. They didn't come from me, that's all I know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Disaster Recovery

One common comment I have heard since Katrina has been "well, they didn't teach you about this at seminary, did they?".
No, they didn't.
But, as someone who spent 20+ years in the banking world, in Data Processing, I should have been better prepared.
As a mainframe systems programmer, we were required not just to have published disaster plans, but to test them. At least twice a year we would take backup tapes of all our systems and fly to an off site center, load the entire systems (this is WAY WAY bigger than PC network stuff, folks), get it up and running, run a day's work for the bank, establish communications links to branches in Mississippi, etc. It was HARD stuff but very important. We utilized two offsite vaults and backups were sent to each every day - in case the "disaster" affected one vault as well as our main location.
To make it more realistic, at times the auditors would come in a declare a "surprise" disaster test. Part of the surprise was to mark certain staff members as MIA - so they could not participate in the test, nor were they allowed to communicate with those who were. We had 4 folks on my staff, and two would be exempt, really testing how well we documented our plan and cross trained our staff.
So here comes Katrina, and you would think I would have had a better plan. Now I must give credit to our altar guild, as they had a written plan that they did execute - three seperate large buckets were loaded with altar sets - chalices, patens, linens, bread, wine, BCP, Bible - all that we needed to "do church" from one container. They were then sent to three different evacuees to take off site. All survived, so we have all our chalices, etc.
As to the church records, we loaded them to a parishioner's house who had built to withstand 150+MPH winds, and had a "safe room" made of extra reinforced concrete and steel. In it we took our Parish Register, our Services Record, our charter (when we became a parish), checks, financial records, backups of our computers. It was all wiped out by storm surge. All....gone.
Thankfully my secretary, at my suggestion, took a copy of our church database records with her, so we do have a backup to restore from once we get a computer.
I left WAY too much stuff in my office, stuff that is not replaceble. I did get all my personal stoles, but left albs (mine and my wife's), ordination certificates, some pictures, all my books. Idiot. I should know better. And I should have simply taken the desktop PCs (sans monitors and printers) with me, it would have saved us tons of time (and money).

Bottom line - you ALL need a plan and you need to TEST it too. Write it up, declare some people MIA, and try it out. You need redundant backups and you need safe places for stuff. Lots of places. Lots of stuff.
If Seabury (or any other seminary) wants me to teach a class - PLEASE let me know. I can, by example, tell how not to do it - and maybe a little of how to.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


The grace of God continues to astonish me in many ways. The numbers of people who have come to help from all over the continent are amazing. THANK YOU ALL...
I am typing this from a portable Internet trailer. A man from Canada and his Anglican Priest wife drove it down and have setup an "internet cafe" for the volunteers here. He is connected via satellite to the net. This is his business, and he is forgoing any money making opportunities to be here to help us. He told me "I knew I had to put up or shut up. I wanted to help - this was something I knew I could do".
His gift is really cool - being connected to the world is a huge thing for all of us.
Our prayers are for all those in the path of Hurricane Rita. It is so hard to believe another monster storm is upon this area. They keep sliding the path to the east, bad news for us and for New Orleans. We are already receiving rain bands here in South Mississippi, and this is bad news for all of us with tarps on our houses. While we are suffering under RECORD heat (new record highs for the last four days, we have had almost no rain since Katrina, which helps in the drying out process.
My vestry has insisted I leave for the weekend. So the LW and I are getting away from the relief center and medical clinic to spend our anniversary and to visit with our daughter at her college. We need it and will relish the time, although it will be short and way too short to do any decompressing.
I did open my new book collection the other day - THANK YOU AKMA and Mitch! It really made my spirits soar - such a simple thing.
Please keep praying and helping. We are getting such wonderful support and quite a few churches are offering to adopt St. Patrick's. We will rebuild TOGETHER. Bless you all.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Kat 5

Yes, the title is a play on words.
What a week. Hard to believe it's Saturday. I traveled north a little ways to get online access for a small time.
I am living in my home again! Water and sewer are semi-working and we slept in our own bed a couple of nights ago for the 1st time. How blessed we are to have a bed, a roof, a home. In Pass Christian it is estimated 500 homes of 8000 are inhabital! Can you see a little of how overwhelming this is? And how fortunate I feel?
Work at the relief center and medical clinic continues at an amazing pace. This week Mitch and Patrick, Seabury folks, came down and MAN did they work hard! I am totally impressed. They pitched in and did everything imaginable.
ANd they brought me gifts - some $$ and BOOKS! The generosity of folks is so wonderful and affirming. I love you all! ThANK YOU...
Today was a very productive day for me. I was able to go out and see many of my people and to contact a lot of the displaced via phone. Working at the center has kept me from doing much of that, other than on Sunday mornings. Getting re-connected is so important to me and to them and I am blessed to have people FAR better than I running the relief efforts now. Thank you God!
Gotta go, curfer coming soon. I hope to check in later next week. Thanks again to all.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Katrina 4

Here I am in front of the site of my church. Tonight I am just too tired to say much. Go to AKMA's blog for some comments. Also, please go HERE to see pictures of my church before the storm.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina #3

It's way too late and I am much too tired. The day started around 6 am and after the breakfast of champions (NABS!) we headed to the school. LW got the medical clinic rolling and the relief efforts were strong and amazing all day. 200 patients, around 450 served in the relief center with food, clothes, bedding, diapers, etc. It was exhausting and humbling and wonderful and scary. I was even pressed into figuring out electrical and plumbing problems for this school, THAT is the scariest part. But the help was tremendous and loving and giving and so wonderful. Folks from all over the country, hard workers (some went and helped one of my parishioners clean out their flooded home - work they could never have completed alone), friends from my former parish came and did SO Much hard work, nurses and docs from a mobile medic team, two busses full of great people from Virginia, others in smaller groups that sorted supplies and unloaded trucks and ALL of home greeted EACH AND EVERY person as a valid, real, wonderful child of God.
I will try to sleep. It is VERY hot. Where we are staying is still without electricity, although we can take cold showers.
I have learned this - on the list of the good things in life - working plumbing (showers that run, toilets that flush) trumps working electricity (read: air conditioning). But I truly would not mind having both again. But, hey, I have a roof and all the MREs I can eat, and I had the privilege to see the face of Christ in countless people, all thanking US before we could thank them.
Keep praying........

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina update 2

What a wild couple days. Let's see what I can remember.... I am totally wiped. I haven't cried yet. That's different for me, I am usually able to show emotions readily. Maybe too tired or too busy or too shocked.
Yesterday and today we spent MANY man hours (and woman hours, no doubt) preparing the local Episcopal school to be a relief center. We received amazing amounts of supplies - one trucker and his wife drove down from Canada and somehow wound up at our place with a huge load. We cleanued up some and tried to organize things.
Today was HOPPIN. We are setting up a medical clinic, I worked with folks from this amazing ministry, Water Ministry, that provides potable drinking water systems in poor countries all over the world. We put a unit in at the school so we now have drinking water. Then we worked on the power - I got my junior warden to come out and make sure we could receive power, and then THE LIGHTS CAME ON. The power company here has been doing AMAZING work. You cannot even begin to imagine the number of poles down, yet power is coming up all over.
The medical clinic is almost ready and we saw several patients today. More docs coming tomorrow. We are not sure how long this will last but we will see whoever needs us.
Tomorrow the relief part will be fully operating. We did serve a few dozen folks today, tomorrow will be very full. Word is out on radio, tv, etc. that we are there.
My LW is in charge of the medical clinic and is gleefully working hard. SHe so wanted something to do worthwhile.
Our bishop came down and all the coast clergy and spouses were together for Eucharist and annointing. It was a good time together.
At one point today the insurance adjuster for my church showed up at the school (he's their adjuster too).. I corralled the poor guy and off we went. We went to my former church site - it was still so amazing. The Bishop planted an Episcopal flag on the site. I have pictures to post, I don't really know how to do that on a blog. We went through the debris at the main building and our two back buildings. It is still hard to conceive.
I noticed the remains of houses that folks had just bought next to the church. Nothing left. Smashed cars. No furniture or freezers or anything. One VERY large beautiful new house on the beach was gone, they had been working so hard. Just the steps left.
The adjuster took pictures and I sketched out the church for him. There was no way to tell how it had looked before. No way.
Yet in the rubble earlier in the week was found my St. Pats coffee cup with my name on it, not even a chip on it.
That's enough...but this. If anyone wants to give directly to my church, you can do so. Email me and I will let you know how.

God bless
David Knight
STILL the Rector, St. Patrick's, Long Beach, Mississippi

Monday, September 05, 2005

Katrina update

Every day I hear from people, churches, groups that are helping. Money is being raised, supplies sent, etc. The major frustration is coordinating everything and finding a distribution point. We may have that settled very soon.
Meanwhile, the situation is still pretty horrible. Health concerns are mounting. We have no water or sewer and you know what that means. I am trying to get my folks OUT of town, there is not much they can do especially the homeless. I am up to 27 parishioners whose homes are completley gone. It is mind boggling.
Tempers are up and frustration levels are sky high.
We met as a church yesterday in the 105 degree heat. 45 good people, we cried together (a lot), rejoiced in our blessings, shared CHrist's body and blood together. I annointed each person with oil and prayed for them after they took communion. It was a very very moving time, I will not forget it.
Please keep thinking of ways you can help. Push your churches. Don't stop. This will be a long, long haul.
Bless you all.
David Knight
STILL THE RECTOR, St. Patrick's, Long Beach, Mississippi

Friday, September 02, 2005

It is worse than I could have imagined

I type this from Pensacola. My family did survive the storm. I escaped here today to meet my wonderful father in law who purchased a generator and gas cans for me. I finally found gas and will return Friday with gen. and gas and water and some food.
The coast of Miss. is in horrible shape. My church, which was on the beach, is completely destroyed, I rode down there today with a fireman, we salvaged our bells from the debris. That's it. Some of our more precious altar stuff was taken off site Sunday, but all else is gone (including ALL of my books - for the clergy out there you know how many that is).
We will hold services Sunday at Grace Lutheran in Long Beach at 11. After that, I don't know. But this I do know - we will get through this and we will continue to be the church.
I suspect over 30 parishioners lost their homes completely, and probably 90% of the others have significant damage. Looking north from the beach road, there is NOTHING. The storm surge too it all out, no bricks, not frames, NOTHING. It is surreal.
Tomorrow I head back. The conditions are actually worsening. No coastal community has sewer plant operations at all, the health risks are rising. I don't recall a class in seminary that covered this!
Meanwhile, my wife's job is over, the clinic she worked for is gone. And we are but two of tens of thousands in the same boat.
May God have mercy on us all.
Thank you all for your prayers. My church was St. Patrick's, Long Beach. Go to for updates. Our wonderful webmaster lives in D.C. for now, so she can keep you posted. I will be without power or Internet (duh) until I make another supply run to Florida.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I admit, I am scared

When I was 11 years old the strongest hurricane to hit the US, Camille, came on shore. It actually passed (the eye) right over where I now live, in Pass Chrisitian, Miss. I was in Hattiesburg, 60 miles north. We had 150 mph winds and were without power for a week. That's nothing compared to the devestation on the Miss. coast. The church I now serve, as well as most of the Episcopal churches on the coast, was destroyed.
This storm is now at Camille levels. While the exact point of landfall is unknown, we will certainly be severely impacted. We are less than 30 miles from the Lousiana border and the mouth of the Pearl River, which is the center of the projected path cone.
We packed up what we could of the church, we've boarded windows, etc. My church sits on the beach, a beautiful church in a beautiful spot - and the predicted storm surge, should it occur, will most likely destroy it.
I am going to a parishioners home about 8 miles north of the beach. We will hunker down, we have supplies and a generator. That's all we can do. I feel I need to stay in the coast area to be available to my parishioners once the storm passes. I pray it's the right decision.
Please pray for all those in the path of this storm. As I type, the wind is already gusting. Pray God acts miraculously to send some high level wind shears and take some of the power out of this beast.
I don't know when I can post again. May God bless you all.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Recovering and watching

I had knee surgery last Monday - arthoscopic. I had a torn cartilage that really reared it's ugly head on the Appalachian Trail hike last April with my son's class. I couldn't put it off any more.
Recovery has been fine so far. I did the crutch thing for a day and a half and have hobbled without them since. My LW has taken WONDERFUL care of me. Spoiled me, actually. Sweet to have a nurse at home!
I have mostly finished my sermon and now watching the Weather Channel as Hurricane Katrina moves into the Gulf. Looks bad, again, for the Florida Panhandle. Those folks need a break. You wouldn't believe the number of roofs still with tarps on them from Ivan last September. Then Dennis hit very near where Ivan did.
It's almost September and my beloved Cubs are out of it, again. You can see why some of us (ahem) still harbor much anger to the foolish fan that got in the way of a possibe out vs. the Marlins in 2003. We knew these chances just don't come up very often.
The Diocese of Mississippi had a Tent Meeting Revival last weekend. It was AMAZING. Largest gathering of Episcopalians in our history, over 2000 braved the August heat (the tent was air conditioned, of course) to be inspired by our Bishop's vision for the next 10 years. We will plant 3 churches in 3 years, increase attendance, reach out to children and serve our communities in better ways. The diocese has been restructured and the Bishop plans to be our Chief Apostle, instead of CEO - and he was right on target Saturday. It's very exciting.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

One of those bittersweet days....

A little something while I ponder what it means to have a blog nobody reads....
This morning, bright and early, we head north about 4 hours to deposit middle child at college. She will be going through rush this week, so she is a tad nervous. Beyond that, her mother and I are basket cases. Isn't this supposed to get easier? NO!!
My oldest has moved back home to work full time a while and save some $$ before venturing back into college mode. So the family home dynamics are interesting to say the least as we have prepared middle child for her big adventure. She chose her in-state college so she can reunite with her friends from the Delta, my Curacy two years were good for her. She is rooming with her best friend, we are very happy for that. Ole Dad has mixed feelings about the sorority stuff, but I think she will handle it well.
Tears will be shed for sure. I will miss her terribly. She is a very sweet kid, and as prepared as any can be, I suppose. Still, I look at this incredibly cute picture of her on the beach at 3 years old and wonder what happened. Today, she is amazingly beautiful and strong....and I DON'T WANT HER TO GO. There. I said it.
But go she must, as we all do. Prayers are appreciated.

Monday, August 08, 2005

I actually liked this one.....

Preaching - it's an interesting life.
When I was a Curate, preaching basically every other Sunday, with much less stress and pressure vs. that of a Rector, the sermon writing process came much easier to me.
Now almost 18 months into my Rector-ship, the sermon process continues to evolve for me. I put a LOT of time into my sermons. I usually read the lessons early in the week, then as the late hours and the pastoral needs, etc. roll in, I look for those moments where I can actually begin putting things down on paper. Often I find the entire sermon just comes out, on a roll, like I can barely type fast enough to get it all. Other times I may be doing something totally (it seems) unrelated, and an idea comes that I jot down in my now-ever-present-notebook. Sometimes the "hook" comes first, that opening piece, often humorous (hopefully) that still sets up the rest. Othertimes that part is the last thing I do.
Since I dearly love teaching, the Bible study and other classes I do often help me position the sermon. I am finding more and more that I need to teach a LOT when I preach. Doing that with any continuity is difficult.
This summer I decided to preach on Romans just about every week. It's good, foundational stuff and I think important as we grow in our faith, learn our story, become better disciples. I did a theme-based series last Advent and both Holy Weeks since I have been here, trying to weave a common thread throughout those sermons. It helps me, I wonder if it helps those who are hearing them.
Anyway, the sermon I gave Sunday was one that I struggled with all week. I finally wrote it on Friday, came home and tore it up. I started all over. On Saturday I went over it several more times and finally took out a bunch of stuff from the Gospel and just focused on Jonah. I went into the pulpit wondering if there was anything worthwhile at all in this sermon, and as I preached, the Spirit helped me tremendously. I ended up with one of those rare sermons - one that I actually liked. It's so weird how that happens.....and how you never really know until you preach if you've got anything that anyone will be inspired by or edified by or even like!
Preaching is a strange business....
If you want to hear it, click here....warning it's over 15 minutes long!

Friday, July 29, 2005

While the cat's away....

Awww....returning from vacation is always SUCH a joy! NOT.
But the time off was excellent (a new thing for me). I found myself the last couple of days thinking about work stuff - I even wrote half of this Sunday's sermon while in a motel room (don't tell my LW). That is a sign to me that I have had a good time off and ready to return.
Of course, returning means a pile of work and an extraordinary amount of pastoral care. Some very critical life things going on for some parishioners made for a full week. Still, it is in those moments that God's grace abounds and blessings unlooked for can occur.
Which leaves me, here late on a Friday afternoon, with the other half of the sermon to write. We have company coming in so I gotta get going!
Next week we ramp up the program year preparation. Things are coming together nicely. Anybody out there want to be a stewardship chair???

btw, our new webmaster is ROCKING on our church website. Check it out here - and don't forget to listen to ALL the sermons!

Monday, July 11, 2005


One thing that I struggle with in this vocation is vacation. (Wow, how similar those words are!). I have followed the advice of those wiser and more experienced than I to try and take at least 2 weeks consecutive, but so far, 3 years in, I have always had something come up or some crisis arise that kept that from happening.
And this year, as noted in the previous post, a dadgum HURRICANE has messed with my plans!
But, thanks be to God, Dennis did not land with the punch it had for so long, and it was a non-event, weather wise, on my side of the coast. I pray for those who were impacted, but I know most folks are breathing a sigh of relief.
I delayed the vacation until today. And tomorrow VERY early, we will head to the sunny beaches, help the in-laws get the vacation house in order after all the storm prep, and then CHILL OUT until Sunday or so! I am VERY excited about that.
Here's to a lot of NOTHIN to do, sun, sand, and no nasty storms! See ya when we get back!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Same Song, Which Verse is this?

Tropical Storm Cindy arrived right over my house around 4:00 am Wed morning. From a very nice 4th of July, out on a friend's boat watching fireworks in the Bay, to constant Weather Channel watching in no time....
And now, of course, there is Dennis..........
This is a BIG BOY storm! Projecting the path is always risky and rarely 100% accurate. Right now we are in the probable zone, although the Pensacola area has a higher probability. Those poor folks! Ivan the Terrible did a major number on that area, they are a long way from being fully recovered.
I was to start my two week-no church-no church talk-no church worries-vacation YESTERDAY. We were going to the in-laws place guessed it, just over the Bama line into Florida, right in the path. Of course that is all cancelled, they headed down today to board the place up. Evacuations are already clogging highways out of there. Rightly so, folks are in a bit of a panic.
Here we watch and wait. Last year I boarded (ok, some friends boarded) my house but I am not sure I will this time. If we are west of the eye, I probably won't. We will shutter the church on Saturday, and Sunday after church we will cart off valuables and parish register, etc. I was to be off Sunday, but will be there instead. No sense "wasting" a Sunday off, my heart and mind would have been there anyway. I won't evacuate but if it gets bad we will stay with parishioners who are 7 miles further north (my house is 1 1/4 miles from the Gulf, out of storm surge area). They have a generator so it's a good spot.
Cuba is getting slammed as I type this. Let's pray for all in the path of this storm. May God be with them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Summer Time

My church has been holding three worship services on Sunday mornings for over 2 years now. Last summer, having only been here a few months, I continued that practice during the summer months. I found attendance to really be down for the two late services.
So this summer I changed to two services. So far, I have been THRILLED with the results. Our early service was moved up to 8:00 from 7:30, and has seen an increase in attendance over the program year average. A few folks have voiced their preference for the 7:30 time, but overwhelmingly folks have stated they wish we could keep this service at 8:00.
The combination of our 9:00 family service and our 11:00 Rite II with choir service has also worked well. We combined elements of both services, and so far I think things have gone even better than I had hoped. Last Sunday we had 100 folks at that service! Last summer we would be lucky to have 60 total between the two.
I have promised to return to three services in the fall, and I will stick to that, of course. We have some new things planned for our music program and hope to add a children's choir sometime next year. The energy of the combined service will give people pause to think about whether we really need to continue three services or not. Of course, the hope is our growth will continue so that we will have no choice. We continue to add new folks, especially parents with young children. That is SO exciting. I pray we are ready for the challenges that growth will bring, especially as we begin to intentionally move to a program size parish. Keep us in your prayers!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Wedding Update

I must say that the service went off better than I expected. We had a large crowd and I first explained to them what was going on, and why I was doing the opening parts from the back of the church. That piece worked very well, then we processed in, cross, choir, LEMs, priest, bride and groom.
After the sermon I did include the Creed, wanting this to be a "near normal" Sunday service. Then came the Marriage piece- vows, rings, blessing. After that, Communion as usual with Bride and Groom receiving first and serving each other the cup.
We had a nice reception afterwards.
Many folks there loved the idea of doing this as part of the service, I had tons of positive comments and some couples even said they wished they had known you could do it this way!
All in all, I was very pleased .... and now I know one way to pull this off!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sunday Wedding

I know, I know, I should have asked for help on this a while back. But, anyway, liturgical freak that I am, I will be doing a wedding in the midst of my regular Sunday service this Sunday. The couple finds such help and community amongst their fellow parishioners, they asked if they could just do this on a Sunday morning, so here we are.
It's a weird deal. The Priest Handbook (or maybe one of the other handy dandy guides) doesn't offer much help other than "you should know what you are doing"! So I am winging it.
Here's what's in my head. We will do the Opening stuff - "Dearly beloved....." the charge, the consent, from the rear of the church. This is to emulate the ancient custom of doing the marriage on the porch steps before the Sunday service. We wont do it on the steps because we will either be in the midst of Tropical Storm Arlene, or enjoying our usual 98 degrees and 95% humidty. Anyway, then we will process in to a hymn, bride and groom in the procession.
The service will continue through the sermon and Creed (decided, since it's the principle Sunday service, to keep the Creed in), after which we will do vows, peace, Eucharist.
They will process out behind the cross and reception follows. I wanted it to be similar to a baptism - with specific changes in the service for the sacrament to happen, but maintaining enough Sunday "integrity" for those who came to church NOT expecting a wedding.
I will let you know how it goes - and any tips or advice are appreciated if you read this before Sunday morning.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Let's Try This Again

For all my many fans out there................
OK, for those who may possibly still have me in a blogroll, because you never get around to editing it, I am back. Maybe.
For a long time I was a pretty frequent blogger. My intent was to stay anonymous and be able to vent various things without getting myself in trouble. That failed, mainly because so often the way things are read online has little to do with the intent behind them. Posting on a public blog requires different ways of communicating than even "regular" writing does. I am not sure I have learned that yet.
Anyway, I have failed to keep posting on any sort of consistent basis, and I have found it so difficult to say anything meaningful while trying to "hide" my identity.
So I won't try that anymore.
I can't promise to post more frequently, but I can promise I will try my best to do so. If you managed to stop by here to read this, I hope you will make a mental note to check more frequently. If I find I just cannot do it, I will remove the blog and move on. Of course, I will keep my blogroll so I can visit places I really enjoy as time goes on.
While I am at it, for those clergy and / or clergy spouses out there, my LW (that's Lovely Wife) has started a blog of her own for clergy spouses - you can find it here.
As for me, I have decided to do a whole sermon series this summer from Romans, since the Episcopal Lectionary helps out. I have done series before - Advent, Lent, Holy Week - but they were thematic based, this is my first attempt at a series from one book of the Bible. I have sketched out the first 6 weeks worth, so I will keep you posted on how it goes.
Since I believe sermons should be heard, not read, if anyone wants to listen, go HERE, click Sermons on the left side, and you can play audio versions. I would LOVE feedback, and not just the "wow, great job dude" kind. We are too nice to each other as preachers sometimes and HELPFUL comments can do just that - help.
Much more about me soon - after I let this "new launching" take the blog-o-verse by storm!
Peace ya'll.