Southern Seminary mobilizes for disaster relief in wake of Katrina

Communications Staff — August 31, 2005

Students, faculty and staff at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary should pray, give and go to assist with relief in wake of Hurricane Katrina, seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said in an Aug. 30 chapel service.

The hurricane, which struck the Gulf coast Aug. 29, claiming dozens of lives, demands that Christians mobilize to help people whose lives have been affected, Mohler said.

“The scope of the devastation is so wide … that we really cannot take it in,” Mohler said. “And sitting here this morning, there is the feeling that we probably can’t do much about it. As Christians, we know we are to pray, and I know we have been doing that. But it feels like there ought to be something else that we can do.”

Southern will focus its relief efforts on helping the students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, La., as they attempt to recover their homes and possessions, he said. Southern’s efforts will include taking up an offering to assist New Orleans students and sending teams of Southern students to assist physically with cleanup efforts in the churches and homes of New Orleans students.

New Orleans Seminary is undertaking a massive cleanup operation and hopes to resume classes Sept. 6. But that date may be pushed back, Mohler said. The New Orleans Seminary campus did not sustain major damage, but the lives of many students have been devastated, he said.

“We want to … try to help the students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and their families and the churches they serve,” Mohler said.

“There ought to be something we can do to encourage them and to help them, those who may very well have lost everything.”

Chapel attendees were given the opportunity to sign up for short-term relief trips immediately following the chapel service, and many responded by volunteering.

Students, faculty and staff who would like to volunteer for disaster relief may continue to sign up in Student Services in Norton Hall 150.

“There are going to be dozens and dozens of short-term trips once the roads are clear and once minimal infrastructure is in place to go down and help put things back together,” Mohler said. “It may be going down for a weekend to help get a church … back in its minimal situation so that a church can hold services. It may be helping a family by going to put their home back together. It could be any number of things.”

In addition to sending short-term relief trips, Southern will begin taking up its offering for New Orleans students during the Sept. 1 chapel service. Anyone wishing to donate to relief efforts may do so during this service or may bring donations by Student Services in Norton 150.

To illustrate how Katrina has impacted Southern in a personal way, Mohler asked all chapel attendees with family members in the affected areas to stand. Several rose to their feet. Mohler then asked how many had not heard from their family members, and about a dozen students remained standing.

“There’s literally no way in terms of human wisdom to put this back together again, but we want to help,” he said.

“God’s people know that in a moment like this, the one thing that we most need to do is to place our trust in God. There’s nothing that can be done humanly speaking from here right now. No one can connect a phone cable and no one can fly down a cell phone. … But we do need to pray.”

Mohler closed his comments on the hurricane by asking chapel attendees to gather in groups of three or four to pray for all people affected by Katrina.

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