Hurricane Katrina left mark on Baptist relief

Tobin Perry
North American Mission Board

Hurricane Katrina evacuees were spread across the Gulf Coast. Here Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers prepare a meal in Meridian, Miss. In total, SBDR volunteers prepared 14.6 million hot meals in the response. File photo by John Swain/NAMBGULFPORT, Miss. (BP) – "We've shared the Gospel with so many people in this community, I don't know if there is anyone else we can share with," Randy Corn thought to himself six months after Hurricane Katrina when he arrived in Gulfport, Miss., one of the many Gulf Coast cities devastated by the historic hurricane 10 years ago.   

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Still experiencing Katrina in mind and heart

David E. Crosby
First Baptist Church, New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – A middle-aged woman attended worship at our church a few Sundays ago. She came in early and sat up front on the center aisle. I greeted her and introduced myself.

CrosbyShe promptly told me her Katrina story. She lived for years in Lakeview. The flood destroyed her home. She permanently relocated to a small town in central Louisiana. A faith community there reached out to her, and she now attends every Sunday. She came to our church during a visit to New Orleans because she wanted to thank God for the journey of faith the flood had caused her to travel.

A week earlier, a couple I had not seen before slipped into a pew. They had evacuated in Hurricane Katrina, they said, and were only now, nearly 10 years later, returning permanently to our city.

Week by week – almost day by day – without prompting or questioning, I hear the Katrina stories. I told my own story the other day in response to the query of a stranger. The evacuation on the contraflow, the destruction of my daughters' homes, the church facility as a relief center, our deployment of 21,000 volunteers, building 91 homes in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, gutting more than a thousand flooded homes – these are components of my own narrative.

A Baptist denominational executive from Texas said he was surprised and delighted to see the diversity in the membership of First Baptist New Orleans after a visit to our church.

We are black and white, Asian and Latino, and all over the economic scale as a church. This diversity is in part the legacy of Hurricane Katrina.

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina forced an outward focus for our church. The flood washed us out of our building and into our community. Cleanup and rebuilding programs, educational ministries, feeding initiatives, medical missions and rehabilitation efforts involved hundreds of our members. I found myself working in Treme, Bywater, Mid-City, the Ninth Ward, Gentilly, East New Orleans, Chalmette, Lakeview and virtually all over the flooded footprint of our city.

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Ark. Baptist Kay Hardin shares conversation with Elisabeth Elliot

ElliotIn 1987, Kay Hardin, current member of Second Baptist Church in Little Rock and chaplain at Baptist Health Medical Center in North Little Rock, had the opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one Q-and-A session with Elisabeth Elliot Gren – missionary, widow of murdered missionary Jim Elliot and widely influential author and speaker. Elliot recently died at the age of 88. The following is from Hardin's journal following her conversation with Elliot.

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Why your church should be on YouTube

Matt Ramsey
Arkansas Baptist State Convention

ALMOST ON a daily basis, I get asked the question, “Should our church be on YouTube?” While this can be a difficult decision for some, the answer is very simple – “Yes!”

YouTube is the premier video-sharing site on the Internet that allows people to discover, watch and share originally created videos. What started as a fad 10 years ago has now become a multimillion-dollar business. According to, YouTube has more than 1 billion users, and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours of video content. The number of hours people spend watching videos on YouTube each month is up 50 percent year after year. If people are watching a video online, chances are that it is coming from YouTube. These statistics alone should make you want to join and participate in this revolutionary video tool.

So how does this help my church, and why should we be on YouTube? Here are four reasons why your church should be on YouTube:

(1)    It helps your church get discovered on the Internet. YouTube is owned by Google, which is the largest search engine website. When people are searching for a church in your area, they most likely go to Google. If your church’s name is not on the top of the list, these people might not know your church exists. As harsh as this sounds, this is a
reality that churches must deal with.

Being on YouTube helps your search engine optimization (SEO) and increases your rankings on Google. SEO is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine like Google. Basically this translates to: Being on YouTube increases the chances that your church will be top on the list when people are searching for churches in your area.
Along with this, people go to YouTube to search videos or sermons that your church has done to get a feel for your church. People today very rarely come to a church without being fully informed about what the feel of the church is like.

(2)    It is on all smartphones. According to, half of all YouTube views are on mobile devices. Why is this important? Most likely people under the age of 40 have a smartphone. If you want to reach this demographic, YouTube allows you to connect to them very easily. You literally have them in the palm of their hand. Create videos that can keep people interested in your church while they are on the go.

(3)    It is an easy way for you to store your videos and create an archive for years. In case you don’t know, video files take up lots of storage space on a computer. YouTube allows you to upload videos that will be kept as long as YouTube is around, which most likely will be for years to come. Freeing up all that storage space on your computer will help your equipment last a lot longer and allow you to keep creating more videos.

(4)    It is free! This is the most important one of all. In a world where everything that works well has a premier cost attached to it, YouTube costs nothing and could be the best thing to happen to your church. This is a great tool to reach a larger group of people for the kingdom of God.

YouTube is a channel through which you can give life to your church – to promote your events, tell your story and post your sermons. A 1-minute YouTube video can communicate more about your ministry culture and your passion for people than all the written text in the world. Your church needs to use YouTube. Imagine the creative ways you could leverage it!


Pastors' wives need outside support

NASHVILLE (BP) – Pastors' wives overall are happy with their roles, but it's imperative that they build a support network outside the church for seasons of conflict, a study of pastors' wives found.

Pastors’ wives Christine Hoover (left), Kathy MacDonald and Susie Hawkins led a panel discussion at the 2014 pastors’ wives session of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference in Baltimore. Photo by Adam Covington Amy Stumpf, professor of religion and society at California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., and a pastor's wife herself, was stirred to study Southern Baptist pastors' wives after she read a Time magazine article lamenting the unique struggles of being married to a pastor.

"Overall, there was a notably negative tone to the 'lot' of most pastors' wives," Stumpf said of the Time article.

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