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God and Tragedy: The Christian Response.

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Radioblogger has posted the transcript of Friday’s conversation betwwen Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Mark D. Roberts, and Dr. John Mark Reynolds. This is Christian theology’s answer to the Three Tenors –each is very skilled, and together they are wonderful.

If I led a freshman seminar on any college campus in America, especially the campuses of Christian colleges, I would bein the semester by assigning the students to read this conversation between three superb scholars and theologians, each of whom bring to the table an enormous grasp of history and philosophy. In fact, I will ask each professor –all three of them are authors and talented professors as well as skilled in the pulpit– to suggest what readings might accompany the dialouge in the event some folks take me up on the idea.

And if you are a pastor, elder, or leader in a Presbyterian Church, USA congregation –or know one– please read this post. Thanks.


The Genius of 1789

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Five years after a disputed and deeply divisive presidential election, a week short of the fourth anniversary of a devastating attack on the United States and the start of a war with a deadly enemy which has seen the U.S. invade and topple two brutal enemy dictatorships and replace both with the seedlings of free regimes, two months after a surprise resignation from the highest court in the land and now on the night of the death of the court’s anchor for two decades and a member for 33 years, and just five days after the greatest natural disaster to ever smash into our country, with order restored in the New orleans and a massive relief effort underway throughout thousands of square miles for the displaced and the devastated…

and I doubt if there is even one elected or appointed member of the United States government in any of its three branches, or any of its states’ governors or state supreme court justices, any of its senior military commanders, any among its responsible bishops, pastors, rabbis or other senior religious leaders, or any of its major newspaper editors, network execs, church or widely respected public intellectuals, or any major college or university president who does not agree that the state of the union is secure, its people committed to the government as it has existed for 216 years, its partisan divisions while severe, not disabling, and the love of country as deep as the Grand Canyon and as enduring as the Rockies.

Five years of extraordinary change and turbulence, war and disaster, and yet there is no crisis of confidence in the country’s purpose or its structure outside of the very small precincts of the extremes, and nothing but certainty as to its orderly transitions of power on the court in the next few weeks, in the elected branches in November of next year, and in January, 2009, in the presidency.

And while the task of recovery from the storm is huge, and while the loss of life and livelihoods cannot be underestimated, the vast resolve of the American people to come to the assistance of their fellow citizens is unmistakable. In no other country in this age or any age could so much have been done to come to the aid of its people as has happened in the past five days. Far from perfect, but far more effective than anything else in recorded human history.

And all of this record of the past five years is unremarkable because it is the United States of America. Because of the nature of its people and the genius of its Constitution’s framers.

William Rehquist was a great believer in that document, and a great servant of the people it protects. We will be blessed to have a replacement half as wise and dedicated, though I am also certain President Bush will find such a jurist. (In fact, in order to add to the stability, the president may just change the wording on the Roberts’ nomination while he searches for a new associate justice –which would allow a Chief Justice Roberts to be seated by the opening of the term.)

Even though the past five years have been full of all sorts of shocks –of terror attacks at home and across the globe, political upheavals, and now from nature– the country is fundamentally secure and stable because of its Constitution. Which is why I expect this president to name another new justice in the mold of Roberts, and a third and a fourth if he has the chance. It is the Constitution that has kept the country together not just for the past few years of crisis and uncertainty, but through its young years, its Civil War, depressions and conflicts that dwarf the one we are now enagged in.

The president knows that it is the Constitution that has, along with God’s grace, allowed this country to survive and prosper and, when necessary, recover, and will look for another nominee who knos that as well.

I suspect President Bush, so very aware of the Constitution’s vital role, will search for the best nominee, without regard to that nominee’s race, creed, or background.

Which is why I would not be surprised by, and would be gretaly pleased with, the nomination of Judge Michael Luttig.

With that bit of appreciation and speculation, back to the raising of aid. Two more days in the blogburst, and NZ’s counter stands at slightly more than $700,000 raised. Please consider a gift to the special fund at for the families of military serving overseas who have been affected by Katrina. I will be making one in honor of a great American, Chief Justice Rehnquist. He never retired, but served until the end. Please consider doing the same, and let NZ’s site know about it.

And if you are a member of the Presbyterian Church, USA, please read the post below and act on it.

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PCUSA Congregations in the Recovery Zone

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Thanks to the incredible work of Ed Brenegar here is a list of the 140 PCUSA congregations in the area directly impacted by the disaster. (More on Ed’s work, and the work of other micro-relief innovators in the post below.) It is almost certain that every one of them has new burdens, and that some of them are devastated. Time is of the essence, and many needs could be met –say emergency financial assistance or housing– if only there was a way to match that need with the ability to respond, within a framework that promoted both accountability and long-term commitment. That framework seems to me to be best built on a foundation of direct congregation-to-congregation partnership.

If you are a pastor or elder in a PCUSA congregation outside of the recovery region in a position to commit your congregation to the relief of one of these 140 churches (by polling the session by e-mail or phone?), I suggest you simply start trying to get in touch with anyone in one of these churches and get the wheels moving. Pastor Mark D. Roberts initiated such an outreach this week and his church is now partnered with Canal Street Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. As an elder inthe PCUSA, I don’t think this is an occasion for the ordinary amount of PCUSA process. I think enormous good can follow from initiative at the local level, and urgent needs met by reaching out before an actual request arrives.

My suggestion: Simply sign up for a church, and start trying to get in touch with its leadership or any members that can locate the leadership. If you e-mail me the congregation you represent and the church you are approaching, I will list it here. I doubt very much if there will be too many partners per church, or too much aid flowing in the wrong direction –not given the scale of the destruction. I am also confident that any church in the impacted region that finds itself without need will either say so or simply regift the assistance.

If you are an elder/pastor/member or friend of a PCUSA congregation in the region and know that your congregation needs help but that the leadership is scattered or communications crippled, drop me an e-mail at and I’ll post your need.

I will also update this list as often as I can. Check over at Ed’s site as well for his thoughts on how best to get relief rolling on a congregation to congregation basis. My belief is if the list gets wide dissemination, each of these congregations will have multiple long term partners in their recovery efforts and in their efforts in the community beyond their congregation.

Churches of the Presbytery of South Louisiana, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Albany Hungarian Presbyterian Church
PO Box 119
Albany, LA 70711

Amite-Arcola Presbyterian Church
501 Walnut Ave
Amite, LA 70422

Atkinson Memorial Presbyterian Church
212 4th St
Morgan City, LA 70381
985-384-7685 FAX

Baker Presbyterian Church
3015 Groom Rd
Baker, LA 70714
225-774-6397 FAX

Bayou Blue First Presbyterian Church
3200 Hwy 316
Gray, LA 70359

Berean Presbyterian Church
PO Box 50549
New Orleans, LA 70150
504-899-2483 FAX

Broadmoor Presbyterian Church
9340 Florida Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA 70815
225-924-9613 FAX

Canal Street Presbyterian Church
4302 Canal St
New Orleans, LA 70119
504-483-0016 FAX

PARTNERS: Irvine Presybterian Church, Irvine, CA

Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church
7408 W Judge Perez
Arabi, LA 70032

Carrollton Presbyterian Church
2032 S Carrollton Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118

Chinese Presbyterian Church
2901 W Esplanade Ave
Kenner, LA 70065
504-461-5435 FAX

Church of the Way Presbyterian Church
250 S Foster Dr
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
225-927-8747 FAX

Clinton Presbyterian Church
PO Box 7938
Clinton, LA 70722

Covington Presbyterian Church
222 S Jefferson Ave
Covington, LA 70434
985-892-3591 FAX

Creedmoor Presbyterian Church
PO Box 123
St Bernard, LA 70085

Faith Presbyterian Church
12855 Old Hammond Hwy
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
225-275-7399 FAX

Faith Presbyterian Church
2525 Apollo
Harvey, LA 70058

First Presbyterian Church
202 N Royal St
De Ridder, LA 70634

First Presbyterian Church
321 E 4th St
Crowley, LA 70527
337-783-2249 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
511 Avenue D
Bogalusa, LA 70429
985-735-0048 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
763 North Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
225-338-1010 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
357 Windermere Blvd
Alexandria, LA 71303
318-443-5965 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
109 N Louisiana Ave
Abbeville, LA 70510

First Presbyterian Church
PO Box 726
Hammond, LA 70404
985-345-8523 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
3661 College St
Jackson, LA 70748

First Presbyterian Church
301 East Academy Ave
Jennings, LA 70546

First Presbyterian Church
305 W Hudspeth St
Welsh, LA 70591

First Presbyterian Church
522 Green St
Thibodaux, LA 70301
985-447-1795 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
1041 9th St
Slidell, LA 70458
985-641-6577 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
197 S 4th St
Ponchatoula, LA 70454

First Presbyterian Church
5401 S Claiborne Ave
New Orleans, LA 70125
504-866-7400 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
1801 2nd Ave
Lake Charles, LA 70601
337-433-4601 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
1130 Johnston St
Lafayette, LA 70501
337-234-5183 FAX

First NCD Presbyterian Church
4850 Lakewood Dr
Zachary, LA 70791

First of Iberia Parish Presbyterian Church
204 N Lewis St
New Iberia, LA 70563
337-364-0936 FAX

First Union Presbyterian Church
134 Lakewood Dr
Luling, LA 70070

Gentilly Presbyterian Church
3708 Gentilly Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70122

Gheens Presbyterian Church
2634 Hwy 654
Gheens, LA 70355

Grace Presbyterian Church
1412 Hospital Ave
Franklin, LA 70538

Grace Presbyterian Church
518 Roselawn Blvd
Lafayette, LA 70503
337-984-6412 FAX

Gretna Presbyterian Church
101 11th St
Gretna, LA 70053
504-366-6881 FAX

Highland Presbyterian Church
10024 Highland Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Jefferson Presbyterian Church
4450 Jefferson Hwy
Jefferson, LA 70121
504-733-2096 FAX

John Calvin Presbyterian Church
4201 Transcontinental Dr
Metairie, LA 70006
504-779-5823 FAX

Kenner Presbyterian Church
2129 Iowa Ave
Kenner, LA 70063

Korean Presbyterian Church
7001 Canal Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70124

Lakeview Presbyterian Church
5914 Canal Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70124
504-494-6029 FAX

Madisonville Presbyterian Church
701 Pine St
Madisonville, LA 70447
985-370-5090 FAX

Metairie Ridge Presbyterian Church
215 Phosphor Ave
Metairie, LA 70005
504-833-1419 FAX

New Covenant Presbyterian Church
4375 Hwy 22
Mandeville, LA 70471

Northminster Presbyterian Church
63140 N Military Rd
Pearl River, LA 70452
985-863-0160 FAX

Norwood Presbyterian Church
PO Box 214
Norwood, LA 70761

Palmer Memorial Presbyterian Church
165 Mercer Rd
Pineville, LA 71360

Parkway Presbyterian Church
6200 Camphor St
Metairie, LA 70003
504-733-1647 FAX

PC of St John Presbyterian Church
1260 Main St
La Place, LA 70068

Peace Presbyterian Church
5919 Morrison Rd
New Orleans, LA 70126
504-241-0987 FAX

Raceland Presbyterian Church
PO Box 326
Raceland, LA 70394

River Community Presbyterian Church
36367 Old Perkins Rd
Prairieville, LA 70769
225-744-4369 FAX

Scotlandville Presbyterian Church
1246 Rosenwald Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA 70874

St Andrew Presbyterian Church
751 Abe Allen Dr
Leesville, LA 71446

St Andrew Presbyterian Church
4020 Hodges St
Lake Charles, LA 70605
337-477-6002 FAX

St Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church
1545 State St
New Orleans, LA 70118
504-897-0105 FAX

Trinity Presbyterian Church
3001 Verot School Rd
Lafayette, LA 70508
337-856-8145 FAX

University Presbyterian Church
3240 Dalrymple Dr
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
225-383-3495 FAX

West Baton Rouge Presbyterian Church
640 Florida Ave
Port Allen, LA 70767

Westminster Presbyterian Church
301 Center Cir
Sulphur, LA 70663

Woodland Presbyterian Church
2889 Military Hwy
Pineville, LA 71360

Woodland Presbyterian Church
5824 Berkley Dr
New Orleans, LA 70131
Churches of the Presbytery of Mississippi, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Alexander Memorial Presbyterian Church
312 Tipton St
Kosciusko, MS 39090

Briarwood Presbyterian Church
620 Briarwood Dr
Jackson, MS 39211
601-956-4824 FAX

Covenant Presbyterian Church
4000 Ridgewood Rd
Jackson, MS 39211
601-981-4947 FAX

Diamondhead Community Presbyterian Church
5301 Diamondhead Cir
Diamondhead, MS 39525
228-255-5557 FAX

Fairview Presbyterian Church
469 CR 52834
Heidelberg, MS 39439

Faith Presbyterian Church
3255 Bailey Ave
Jackson, MS 39283

First Presbyterian Church
114 Ulman Ave
Bay Saint Louis, MS 39520

First Presbyterian Church
PO Box 346
Brookhaven, MS 39602
601-833-7071 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
PO Box 614
Lucedale, MS 39452

First Presbyterian Church
400 State St
Natchez, MS 39120
601-442-2590 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
1101 Church St
Port Gibson, MS 39150

First Presbyterian Church
1819 Pascagoula St
Pascagoula, MS 39567
228-762-0296 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
921 Ocean Ave
Ocean Springs, MS 39564
228-872-0401 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
202 E Peace
Canton, MS 39046
601-859-9846 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
1501 Cherry St
Vicksburg, MS 39180
601-631-0301 FAX

First Trinity Presbyterian Church
PO Box 528
Laurel, MS 39440
601-428-8492 FAX

Fondren Presbyterian Church
3220 Old Canton Rd
Jackson, MS 39216
601-982-3233 FAX

Gautier Presbyterian Church
PO Box 340
Gautier, MS 39553

Gavins Chapel Presbyterian Church
PO Box 1240
Bay Springs, MS 39422

Grace Chapel Presbyterian Church
307 New Mannsdale Rd
Madison, MS 39130
601-856-7825 FAX

Handsboro Presbyterian Church
1304 Pass Rd E
Gulfport, MS 39507

J J White Memorial Presbyterian Church
110 3rd St
McComb, MS 39649
601-684-4199 FAX

Jones Memorial Presbyterian Church
4415 Royal Rd
Meridian, MS 39307
601-482-6220 FAX

Liberty Presbyterian Church
PO Box 219
Liberty, MS 39645
601-657-4818 FAX

Long Beach Presbyterian Church
O Box 332
Long Beach, MS 39560

Magnolia Presbyterian Church
PO Box 454
Magnolia, MS 39652

Mc Farland Presbyterian Church
186 CR 377
Heidelberg, MS 39439

Orange Grove Presbyterian Church
16148 Robinson Rd
Gulfport, MS 39503

Osyka Presbyterian Church
PO Box 298
Osyka, MS 39657

Pilgrim Grove Presbyterian Church
1354 Mt Moriah Rd
Newton, MS 39345

Pineview Presbyterian Church
1200 Old Country Club Rd
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Pineville Presbyterian Church
510 N Jackson St
Poplarville, MS 39470

St Luke’s Presbyterian Church
260 Presto Ln
Jackson, MS 39206

Toomsuba Presbyterian Church
PO Box 250
Toomsuba, MS 39364

Trinity Presbyterian Church
4223 Poplar Springs Dr
Meridian, MS 39305
601-485-5505 FAX

United Presbyterian Church
PO Box 500
Sandersville, MS 39477

Memorial Presbyterian Church
3549 Lower Cetreville Rd
Liberty, MS 39645

Vernal Presbyterian Church
455 McInnis Vernal Rd
Lucedale, MS 39452
601-766-0372 FAX

Westminster Presbyterian Church
5005 Lawson Ave
Gulfport, MS 39507
228-864-3247 FAX

Westminster Presbyterian Church
115 N 25th Ave
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
601-584-7574 FAX

Westminster Presbyterian Church
33 Fatherland Rd
Natchez, MS 39120

Wiggins Presbyterian Church
PO Box 416
Wiggins, MS 39577

Yokena Presbyterian Church
472 Jeff Davis Rd
Vicksburg, MS 39180
Congregational Statistics
Update Congregational Info

The Churches of the Presbytery of South Alabama, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Central Presbyterian Church
1260 Dauphin St
Mobile, AL 36604
251-432-0592 FAX

Christ Presbyterian Church
8450 Wispering Pines Rd
Daphne, AL 36526
251-626-9049 FAX

Columbia Presbyterian Church
806 N Main St
Columbia, AL 36319

Cottage Hill Presbyterian Church
4201 Cottage Hill Rd
Mobile, AL 36609

Evergreen Presbyterian Church
1103 N Pontiac Ave
Dothan, AL 36303
334-792-3160 FAX

Evergreen Presbyterian Church
PO Box 553
Evergreen, AL 36401

First Presbyterian Church
195 E Berry Ave
Foley, AL 36535
251-943-8338 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
PO Box 848
Citronelle, AL 36522

First Presbyterian Church
211 McMillan Ave
Bay Minette, AL 36507
251-580-3732 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
12185 Homestead Ave
Grand Bay, AL 36541

First Presbyterian Church
PO Box 256
Gulf Shores, AL 36547
251-968-7472 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
PO Box 355
Jackson, AL 36545
251-246-9620 FAX

First Presbyterian Church
223 S Three Notch St
Andalusia, AL 36420
334-427-8052 FAX

Geneva Presbyterian Church
PO Box 417
Geneva, AL 36340

Government Street Presbyterian Church
300 Government St
Mobile, AL 36602
251-434-9324 FAX

Grace Presbyterian Church
1255 Navco Rd
Mobile, AL 36605

Green Hill Presbyterian Church
PO Box 310637
Enterprise, AL 36331
334-347-9530 FAX

Hillsdale Presbyterian Church
569 Cody Rd
Mobile, AL 36608

Memorial Presbyterian Church
2450 St Stephens Rd
Mobile, AL 36617

New Hope Korean NCD Presbyterian Church
1260 Dauphin St
Mobile, AL 36604

Northminster Presbyterian Church
531 Hwy 43 N
Chickasaw, AL 36611

Orange Beach Presbyterian Church
PO Box 306
Orange Beach, AL 36561
251-981-4223 FAX

Overlook Presbyterian Church
5311 Overlook Rd
Mobile, AL 36618
251-344-1740 FAX

Providence Presbyterian Church
2320 Schillinger Rd S
Mobile, AL 36695
251-633-9772 FAX

Spanish Fort Presbyterian Church
PO Box 7386
Spanish Fort, AL 36577

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church
10 Westminster Way
Mobile, AL 36608
251-342-1559 FAX

Stockton Presbyterian Church
PO Box 438
Stockton, AL 36579
251-937-9518 FAX

Swift Presbyterian Church
23208 Swift Church Rd
Foley, AL 36535

Trinity Presbyterian Church
PO Box 441
Fairhope, AL 36533
251-928-5690 FAX

Union Presbyterian Church
3983 CR 13
Ozark, AL 36360

Westminster Presbyterian Church
2921 Airport Blvd
Mobile, AL 36606
251-471-5349 FAX

Presbyterians, Lawyers, ER Docs, and Martial Artists.

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The idea of microrelief efforts aimed at knitting together needy communities with counterparts outside of the recovery area is advancing pretty quickly. In the post immediately above this is a list of every Presbyterian Church (USA) in the affected region –a mammoth undertaking accomplished by a truly amazing man, Ed Brenegar, who saw the need and just got it done. I am hoping that now the thousands of PCUSA congrgations around the country will pick one of these churches and start the process of establishing a long term recovery partnership as MarkDRoberts’ church has done with Canal Street Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. Even if some of these churches have not suffered physical damage, it is almost certain that they are bearing new and heavy burdens and need help from their fellow PCUSA members. There simply isn’t any need to wait for instructions from Louisville. I hope pastors and elders simply pick a partner and send word that help in the form of prayer, money, and when appropriate, volunteers of all sort are on the way. Immediate contact might also help fill the housing needs or special needs of many of these churches whose flock is in whole or part homeless. I will continually update the list to note which congregations around the country have adopted which church in the recovery region, and I have asked Ed to think through the protocols that might apply, though in the near term, picking upthe phone or sending an e-mail or somehow tracking down a contact makes the most sense. If a pastor/elder/deacon or friend of an impacted church in the region sees this post, please feel free to send me word of whether and how urgently you need partner PCUSA congregations, and I’ll post the request here.

This is one small example of how I hope the new portal NZ Bear is working on will match need and ability to provide. Here’s another.

NZ has asked for some technical help in putting this portal together. (Scroll down.) In the comments section to that request was this comment and link:

Hello everyone. I put up a rudimentary site called “Martial Artists Affected by Hurricane Katrina” that was inspired by Hugh Hewitt’s article, NZBear’s interview with him, and that one site “Openings for Students Affected By Hurricane Katrina”. Obviously, its focus is much more long-term as many people right now don’t even know the full extent of damage to their homes, workplaces and lives, let alone their martial arts community.

It is for informational purposes only, being a list of martial arts schools harmed by Katrina and those martial arts schools that wish to help. There is also a list for those schools wanting to offer temporary “instruction refuge” for displaced martial artists.

Thank you and best of luck to everyone on the relief efforts.

Posted by: John Oberle on September 3, 2005 11:16 AM

That is microrelief of the sort that the bigs will never be able to supply, but which the web has already made possible, and which the new portal may accelerate.

Second and third example: HedgeHogBlog is already helping keep track of the response of the country’s major law firms.

Now, because of some unique circumstances, HedgeHog was able to match another need with resources. Dr. Greg Henderson is an academic pathologist who found himself in New Orleans on vacation and responded by setting up a clinic and basically going into ER medicine. Help began flowing to him via a number of sources, and the next update will detail how, I hope. The power of matching need and ability to respond.

This matching is no doubt being replicated over and over again. A friend of mine in Southern California, Todd Sousa, who owns a string of swim schools, found himself with an offer of trucks and a large quantity of bottled water. So he’s going to ask for some other appropriate stuff, find a shelter in the area that is need, and head out asap.

The point is that when the need is literally infinite, every help matters, even though sophistication in delivery is crucial so as to avoid bottlenecks etc.

While we get the protal designed, I am going to concentrate on the Presbyterians. If you are among them, please flag your pastor at church tonight or tomorrow and ask him or her or a member of the session to pcik a partner church and get moving.


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