Matt talks to the pastor of First Grace UMC in New Orleans about merging a black church and a white church together, preaching in a racially diverse congregation, and how context informs mission.
In January I went to New Orleans with the Protestant Cooperative Ministry of Cornell University to work on a Habitat for Humanity project. My wife, Jeanene, and I drove from San Antonio through Houston and on to New Orleans. As it turned out, our journey through Houston helped us to understand the work we were about to do. I grew up on the west side of Houston, 15 miles out Interstate 10, near Katy, Texas. Our exit had nothing more than a Shell station, a small grocery store and a few shops. There wasn’t much between Katy and Houston either, mostly open country and a few familiar roads. In the late '70s I drove into Houston regularly to visit friends and sack groceries in a little store near Kirkwood Street.
Those weathering Katrina’s aftermath see no end in sight. “It's going to go on for years,” says United Methodist bishop Hope Morgan Ward. "For years and years." “We’re not back to normal, and I don’t know what that would be like,” says Nelson Roth, pastor of Gulfhaven Mennonite Church in Gulfport, Mississippi.