One benefit of holding the House of Bishops meeting, which concludes today, in New Orleans, was to focus attention on the Church's participation in rebuilding the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
BILOXI, Miss. - The Rev. Jane Bearden has lived in Massachusetts for 23 years, but when Hurricane Katrina swept through the region of her birth, she felt the tug of her childhood home.So earlier this year, Bearden sold her house in Georgetown, bid farewell to the parish in Methuen she had been overseeing, and moved to Biloxi to attempt an unusual experiment in hurricane relief - the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is employing her for at least two years to work as a priest at a historic parish whose seaside building was one of six Episcopal churches along the Mississippi coast that were demolished by the devastating storm of August 2005.
Bearden's move is the most visible sign of an intensive effort by the Massachusetts diocese to pour resources into this region; the diocese says it has sent several hundred volunteers to work repairing houses here, it has raised $250,000 for the region, and a Boston-based bishop, Roy F. "Bud" Cederholm Jr., has visited six times. One Massachusetts parish, in Winchester, held a shrimp boil to raise money for the hurting shrimping industry here; others have purchased Home Depot and Wal-Mart gift cards to send to people trying to rebuild their homes; and the Massachusetts diocese has launched an organization, Samaritans Now, made up of healthcare workers to provide medical relief.
Read Michael Paulson's story in The Boston Globe.