Community of Shalom in New Orleans Continues Their Faithful Ministry
by Barbara Wheeler
The Community of Shalom at First Street United Methodist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana remains faithful in their ministry to a neighborhood that was transformed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer.
I visited New Orleans in December 2005, almost four months following Hurricane Katrina struck the city. At that point life and activity were slowly returning to the streets of New Orleans. First Street United Methodist Church was the site of a relief center of the Louisiana Annual Conference. Its fellowship hall was full of supplies including flood buckets, health kits, food and blankets. Volunteers from the church, community and across the country were distributing supplies to hurricane survivors.
Now, ten months after Hurricane Katrina, First Street United Methodist Church is housing young adult volunteers. The Community of Shalom is planning summer activities for neighborhood children. The fellowship hall -- once over-flowing with supplies -- is lined with bunk-beds where volunteers from the Hands On Network stay while they are working in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the city.
The Community of Shalom “Grandparent House” is now home to two long-term volunteers, the church secretary, and a grandparent from the community. In the midst of a housing-crisis having a place to call home is a blessing. The “Grandparent House” was originally established as a housing complex for grandparents who were raising their grandchildren.
Two leaders of the Community of Shalom, Ivy Porter and Joann Cook, shared that the care and support of volunteers is invigorating in the midst of the hurricane aftermath.
Ms. Porter said that the church has remained a beacon in the community. The volunteers are living witnesses to church and Community of Shalom ministry. Ms. Porter explained that church is not simply a place to visit once a week wearing one’s fancy clothes, but a continuous ministry in the community.
“This church is where people gather and then go back out in the community to serve,” Ms. Porter said.
As their neighbors rebuild their lives in New Orleans, the First Street Community of Shalom continues to model a community-focused ministry.
Barbara Wheeler works with the Communities of Shalom Program at Global Ministries. The Communities of Shalom Program provides training and tools to assist congregations and communities in working together to experience wholeness and well being among all people in their neighborhoods. Communities of Shalom are financially supported by the local congregations and annual conferences that sponsor them; they also receive grants funded through your gifts to The UnitedMethodistChurch's Advance for Christ and His Church. You can give individually or through your church or conference. Please write ADVANCE Project #742566 on your gift and designate it to "Communities of Shalom." For more information visit How to Give Through the Advance.
Date posted: Jul 18, 2006