Sunday, November 05, 2006

Distinctly Episcopal

Gutting homes and passing out supplies/listening to people in the ninth ward are both important ministries, each with their own distinct advantages. One of the advantages of working on the mobile respite unit is that it has helped to insure that my experience here would be an Episcopal one. For the most part, our gutting program could be run by any church, or even secular group. 6 of its 9 regular workers are not Episcopalian (although many of the short-term volunteer crews are) and the gutting itself is just generic deconstruction. Now, obviously there's nothing wrong with a non-Episcopalian program - I worked with the Evangelical Free Church of America when I was here in March, and recovery is recovery. But I didn't come here just to work on Katrina issues - I also came to be with my church, partially in preparation for ordination. Perhaps that is one reason I was guided to the mobile unit.

Virtually all the volunteers we get at the mobile unit are Episcopalian (although there are other groups as well, such as the Messianic Jews). Certainly all the regular, local volunteers who come in for a day or two each week are Episcopalian. This means I get to hear about Episcopal churches all over the country - you may recall my post about Bishop Cederholm. We also, at one point, had volunteers from Truro Church in Fairfax, VA, which has dealt with recent controversy. It was interesting to hear about it firsthand. The gutting program deals mostly with Episcopalians, but they also get college crews and other assorted groups.

Every Thursday, Father Joe Rhodes comes in from Baton Rouge to hold a short Eucharist with us at noon. Quinn reads the Gospel and Father Rhodes races through a Eucharstic Prayer, and it takes us 15 minutes, tops. We stop distribution for those short 15 minutes, and sometimes waiting residents will join us in worship. There's one lady who makes a point of coming each Thursday for the Eucharist. And even on days when we don't have the Eucharist, we have deacons running the program (which reminds me to tell you, Mike has gone to Alabama for the month, and left me in charge of supply duty at the warehouse!).

Finally, working with the mobile unit means I get to see our churches all over the city. Sometimes we leave from Grace Episcopal Church, sometimes from St. Paul's (my favorite). And since Mike uses me to help with various errands, I get to see places like St. Augustine's in Metairie and St. Anna's in the French Quarter. (I've also been to Annunciation and St. Andrew's, though that would be true even if I were routinely gutting.) Through in the Episcopal shields looming over us from the side of the RV each day, and you can see that I'm definitely with my church!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch a Jodie Foster movie. Yay for Jodie Foster! :-)

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