Bollwahn joins initiative to restore New Orleans churches
Lt. Colonel Paul Bollwahn joins Ambassador Andrew Young and L.A. pastors to discuss revitalizing New Orleans churches.
by JANET CHISMAR –
(L-R) Lt. Colonel Paul Bollwahn, New Orleans Councilwoman Cynthia Willard Lewis and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.
Lt. Colonel Paul Bollwahn, whose division continues to serve Katrina evacuees taking refuge in Southern California, recently joined former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, a number of Los Angeles area pastors and civic leaders from New Orleans to discuss ways they could help churches struggling to recover from the 2005 hurricane.
Hosted by Bishop Charles Blake at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ, the meeting included an update on rebuilding efforts from Cynthia Willard Lewis, a New Orleans councilwoman; Joe Givens, a regional Council of Churches representative, and Carl Williams, the faith-based coordinator for the Louisiana Recovery Authority.
The speakers agreed that in a city plagued by crime and despair, churches are desperately needed. “Unless the congregations come back,” said Givens, “the neighborhoods won’t come back.” Sadly, many churches in New Orleans remain shuttered. “People are looking for their pastors,” Givens added. “Eighty percent of churches have not returned.”
Councilwoman Lewis pointed out that since Katrina, depression and suicide rates have risen in New Orleans. “People are wounded and hurting. In the midst of great loss, churches make sure that people don’t lose their souls.”
Special guest Ambassador Andrew Young of Operation HOPE announced an initiative designed to revitalize 36 churches in New Orleans. “It is clear that congregations in the Gulf area are still struggling to get back on their feet,” said Young. “This coordinated effort will help provide them with the support they still desperately need to restore their places of worship.”
The initiative, which springboards from the National and Regional Council of Churches, hopes to include representation from all faiths and will encompass 36 local churches working in partnership with 360 churches nationwide to unify efforts for the next two to three years. The effort hopes to create an institutionalized buddy-system for rebuilding centers of worship in New Orleans.
“In this effort,” said Givens, “there is no more Baptist, Methodist, Jew or Catholic. There is no more Democrat or Republican. There is no more uptown or downtown. There is no more White, Black or Hispanic. We need to work together to rebuild as God’s people.”