Seminary community grateful in the midst of power outage

Communications Staff — September 16, 2008

Though remnants of Hurricane Ike downed more than 5,300 power lines Sunday, leaving more than 300,000 homes and business in the Louisville metro area without power, including Southern Seminary and Boyce College. R. Albert Mohler Jr. pointed the seminary community to God’s lavish grace in the midst of the storm.

Just hours after the wind storm left much of the Louisville metro area in the dark, Southern Seminary’s president addressed students, faculty and staff who remained on campus. Given the level of destruction the hurricane left in its wake in the Gulf Coast region late last week, Mohler said the seminary community has been graciously spared.

“We need to thank God for where we are and the fact the everybody is safe and the buildings on campus are all secure,” Mohler said. “Let’s put this in context: We look at the pictures from Galveston, Texas, and let’s be very thankful that we aren’t looking at pictures like that.

“We are going to take this an opportunity from the Lord to learn something we otherwise wouldn’t have learned and have some experiences together we otherwise wouldn’t have had.”

The unexpected 75 mph winds snapped and uprooted thousands of trees in the Louisville area Sunday afternoon around 1 p.m., leaving at least one dead and several injured. More than 300,000 were without power, a figure three times larger than the numbers that lost electricity in Louisville due to a tornado in 1974, LG&E representative Chris Hermann said.

Southern canceled classes through the end of this week due to the power outage. Mohler encouraged students who remained on campus to alert administration of any needs. The seminary began providing complimentary meals for students Sunday evening.

The campus had regained electrical power by Tuesday afternoon, but much of the larger community remained in the dark, and the seminary continued to provide the complimentary meals through Wednesday morning. Grounds crews worked to clear the debris and get the campus ready for normal operations.

Students did not let the lack of electricity sour their spirits. Instead, worship music, conversation and laughter have filled the dormitories and outdoors commons areas as students used the downtime for fellowship, study and rest.

Emily Phillips, a first-year master of divinity student , said the break from classes has provided time both to study and to deepen relationships.

“People have been hanging out a lot who have not been hanging out much lately,” she said. “Sunday night we hung out, the lights were off, and we just had a good time reading the Word together, praying and just being together. We stayed out in the hall until 1 a.m., reading our textbooks and talking.”

Fellow Mullins Hall resident Jennifer Hall, a third year M.Div. student, said the extended time for fellowship and rest has been a blessing.

“It [the fellowship, prayer and Bible study] is stuff that we normally do, but I have met people I haven’t met before and that has been neat to have that family feel and go through all of this together,” she said. “It has been a good experience and I am very grateful to the Lord for it. It has allowed me to slow down and rest more. One of our friends really needed to go home and see her sister and the Lord has allowed here to go home [with this break]. You see how God is using all of this [for good].”

Student Stan Choate said the seminary administration and staff have handled the emergency situation well.

“It seems like they had a plan already in place in case something like this happened because immediately they had food being barbequed and Dr. Mohler came out here and told us what was going on,” said Choate, a second year M.Div. student. “It is good that they had a plan or if they didn’t have a plan then they threw it together real quick and did a great job.”

Phillips said she appreciated Mohler and Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president of academic administration, spending time with students Sunday evening at dinner, talking to them and helping assure everyone’s needs were met.

Allen Amschler, a second year M.Div. School of Theology student, noted Mohler’s quick attention to the situation.

“I was out here (on campus) all day after church on Sunday. Around six o‘clock, Dr. Mohler parked on the sidewalk and was here,” he said. “He was here that first night while dinner was being served, checking out the campus.”

Boyce College Dean Denny Burk said he sensed a greater feeling of community among Boyce students on campus following the storm. Burk said he walked the dormitory halls twice Monday evening and early Tuesday morning. As he walked with Dr. Mohler at 12:45 a.m., Tuesday, he said there students were still up playing games in the commons areas.

Burk said 60-70 percent of Boyce’s on campus students remained in the dorms during the outage. Boyce moved the female students to Mullins Hall at Southern, while the male students have remained at Carver Hall.

Though Southern is losing a week of classes, Mohler said the schedule for the rest of the semester, including fall reading days, remains unchanged. Mohler thanked the staff for its faithful and sacrificial service to the students and institution and challenged the seminary community to shine the light of Christ in this situation.

“This is really where we are going to show the city what we are made of,” he said. “Let us show the love of Christ and concern of Christ in the midst of all of this and let’s also show people that there is a joy here that goes beyond just saying ‘hey, this is an interruption in life.’

There is a joy here because the Lord has brought us here for a purpose and even in the midst of this unexpected and unplanned event in the semester, this happened for a purpose. Let’s use it for God’s glory.”

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