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Southern Seminary mobilizes for disaster relief in wake of Katrina
September 02, 2005
By David Roach

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 during chapel services in the days following the storm.

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

"Southern Baptists are going to be mounting a massive effort to assist people all throughout the region in terms of families in distress and churches that need to be rebuilt and re-established," he said. "Entire communities just have to be restarted and refounded. There are a lot of displaced people that really need assistance."

Southern Seminary will focus many of its relief efforts on helping the students, faculty and staff at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Southern began its efforts Aug. 30 by signing up volunteers to serve on relief teams that will be ready to go whenever they are called upon. To date more than 300 Southern students and faculty have volunteered, and the sign up is continuing in Student Services, Norton Hall 150.

"They're trying to build an army of volunteers to be ready," Mohler said. "And this is your chance to sign up. We're looking for a few good men and also women who can help with the rebuilding of lives and the reconnecting of the people. There's a lot to be done."

Southern is also collecting an offering for its sister seminary. Checks should be made out to the Southern Baptist Foundation and designated for New Orleans Seminary relief. Donations should also be taken to Student Services in Norton 150. Thus far the seminary family has donated more than $26,000.

The extent of the damage at New Orleans seminary is still unknown, but the lives of students, faculty and staff have been devastated, Mohler said. New Orleans administrators have set up a temporary base of operations at the seminary's Atlanta extension center.

"We have a seminary, as it were, now in exile, setting up in its extension in Atlanta," Mohler said, commenting on Jeremiah 29. "The most important part of this passage is what the Lord promises His people: 'I have plans for you, plans for your welfare and not for evil.' We have claimed that promise for so many who are suffering and grieving and scrambling together today to figure out how they can put their lives and ministries and families back together."

Christians must not downplay the fact that much of the damage caused by the hurricane was the destruction of physical objects, he said, adding that God has programmed humans to need physical possessions and to attach to them great sentimental value.

"It is just stuff in many cases, but it's the stuff of which human lives are made operational," he said. "... There are people who have no homes in which possessions could even be kept. No jobs: That's one of the real issues in the rebuilding of the seminary ... how they put together an entire economy for the region. Students won't have any place to work."

Mohler noted, "No one knows what this rebuilding is going to look like. President Bush was surely right ... when he said it would take years. But it has to start somewhere, and we need to make a response as quickly as possible."

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