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Churches Race to Support Members Impacted by Oil Spill

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) As oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, churches and religious organizations along the Louisiana coast are providing food, money and support to parishioners whose livelihoods hang in the balance.
More than 7 million gallons of oil have contaminated the Gulf since an oil rig explosion on April 20, pulling the region’s fishing industry to a screeching halt. It’s been particularly hard for churches like St. Patrick Catholic Church in Port Sulphur, La., where many parishioners are fishermen.
The Rev. Gerard Stapleton and his staff at St. Patrick’s have distributed food and $100 vouchers to 300 families in his congregation affected by the oil spill.
“It could very easily … destroy our way of life which generations have enjoyed,” Stapleton said. “This is one of the top 10 areas in the United States for fishing.”
One of St. Patrick’s parishioners is fisherman Vincent Frelich, whose family has owned Frelich Seafood and Bait for about 35 years. At its best, the business brought in more than 3,000 pounds of shrimp and seafood a week. In the last month, they are lucky if they get a hundred live shrimp a day, Frelich said.
“Right now, we don’t even know how long the extent of the damage is going to last,” Frelich said.
Frelich has tapped into his savings to pay the bills and his employees. He regularly attends service at St. Patrick’s but hasn’t yet asked for any money.
“That’s all we got left right now, to pray and hopefully we can get some help from the Lord,” Frelich said. “We pretty much know, we outta business right now.”
It’s much the same story at Mary, Queen of Vietnam Church in New Orleans, where almost all of its 1,000 members have been affected.
“It has reached a certain point where the issue here is the future uncertainty of our people,” said the Rev. Vien Ngyuen, who was in Washington Monday (May 24) to introduce President Obama at a White House reception for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. “We don’t know (if) the fishing industry in the Gulf Coast will be affected for the next two years or 20 years.”
Ngyuen is working closely with the Mary, Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation to help resident of the eastern New Orleans community of Village de l’Est, which is home to more than 5,800 Vietnamese.
The corporation serves as a liaison for parishioners and representatives from oil giant BP, Medicaid and the Catholic Charities, said executive director Diem Nguyen. Translators are available.
“We’ve gotten people come in and you can’t help but feel bad,” Diem Nguyen said. “They’ve done this all their lives. Coming from Vietnam, that’s all they know how to do.”
Outside Hosanna Church in Marrero, Pastor George McLean and his staff have put up a black and white sign in support of the 60 or so families affected by the spill. “Pray for a solution to the oil leak problem,” it says.
“We are resilient here in bouncing back from storms that we’ve been through, but we’ve never have to face oil coming at us,” McLean said.
McLean has provided counseling to his congregation and has tailored his sermons to address their concerns.
“I’ve really been trying to address faith and encouragement,” he said. “Somehow, in what seems to be a drastic and tragic situation, he’ll (God) bring good out of it.”
This same optimism is shared by Pastor John Dee Jeffries of the First Baptist Church of Chalmette, who is also trying to lift the spirits of the 180 people in his congregation through sermon.
“God is a God of hope,” said Jeffries, who has been with the church for 20 years. “I don’t understand how God will work this together for good, but I’m confident that he will.”
About 40 percent of the church is unemployed and still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Jeffries said. They were not ready for the oil spill.
“It’s a pretty tight-knit web of pain and despair that has been here for awhile that is starting to lessen, but this is really complicating things,” Jeffries said. “There is a general gloom and anger across the metropolitan New Orleans area. … They can’t believe this is happening again.
By FERNANDO ALFONSO III
c. 2010 Religion News Service
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



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Glenn

posted May 26, 2010 at 6:18 pm


Christians to the rescue! These awesome people take so much abuse for everything, get accused of heinous things and all they do is help people. All over the world. No one is spewing their manufactured hatred for them here? Wonder why? This world would be in a horrible state if it weren’t for these people! God Bless these wonderful people! makes me proud to be counted among them and proud to be an American!



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nnmns

posted May 26, 2010 at 6:38 pm


This is going to devastate those people. The article doesn’t say how much, if any, actual church money is going to people but it will run out and the government will be the aid of last resort.
For many years BP and the other oil companies have worked the system to make immense profits, partly by cutting corners on safety. Now the bill has begun to come due and thanks to a compliant congress some years ago BP’s exposure is fairly small and it will come down on the US government to do what it can for these people.
Barring a miracle, that is. While the US government (or probably any other one) has no equipment to stop this leak shouldn’t “God” be able to do it? Why aren’t there preachers and priests and bishops lined up shoulder to shoulder praying as hard as they can for God to stop that leak? Is it possible they have no expectation their prayers would be answered? What does that say about the power of prayer?
This tragedy could almost surely have been averted if drilling were only allowed where multiply-redundant safeguards were in place and enforced and checks done regularly by independent inspectors. But that kind of thing is politically hard so these people and that beautiful area with all its wonderful wildlife is going to suffer for decades.
We must get away from our dependence on a lot of petroleum.



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pagansister

posted May 26, 2010 at 8:02 pm


Those poor people really didn’t need this man-made disaster on top of having to still deal with Katrina.



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nnmns

posted May 27, 2010 at 8:06 am


Now I repeat my earlier question.
Why aren’t preachers and priests and bishops of all kinds and maybe rabbis and any other religious leader who’s profited by preaching a god that answers prayers, why aren’t they all lined up along the gulf coast praying that oil back into the seafloor and that hole closed?
Humans don’t at this time have the power to fix that at all soon. If “God” is as so many people believe, “He” could. If “He” responds to prayer, surely an armada of prayerful leaders like I described could sway him. If you believe at all in such a god it’s worth the try.
Why aren’t they doing what they can?



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pagansister

posted May 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm


nnmns, we will wait for god to send down a huge vacuum to suck that oil right out of the water…and make it disappear. In our dreams! Then he/she will plug the leak, solving the situation. Think we will be waiting for a very long time..eternity? The preachers best get a move on with those prayers.



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cknuck

posted May 28, 2010 at 12:32 am


nnmns and pagan seems like you have made your usual level of contribution to this disaster. Condemn Christians who will be on the ground helping people long after the government is gone and regardless if your lack of response. My organization has been there since Katrina helping and building long after everyone else faded away and we will help the clean-up and feed people who will be in need now that their way of living will be impacted.



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nnmns

posted May 28, 2010 at 6:18 am


ps that would be a real test of whether there is a powerful god that answers prayers. If it actually worked I’d be convinced and stop being an atheist.
Of course if those preachers thought for a second it would work they should be out there praying for all they’re worth.
cknuck where have ps or I condemned Christians, or anyone else, actually helping people?
What is your organization, cknuck?



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cknuck

posted May 28, 2010 at 1:58 pm


nnmns I wonder about you sometimes, are you retarded or something that you would not realized the condemnation you spew about Christians and this you mentioned Jews also I guess to prove you hold a general contempt for the people of God and God Himself. The article talks about real challenges, financial, spiritual and physical challenges you and your sidekick pagan can see nothing but the opportunity to taunt. I’ve been at ground zero in disasters and people are so glad to see people come together to help Jew, Christian and concerned non-believers together one cause and that is to help the people that are in need. Your contribution of negativity is less than desired and I’m sure if you went and asked the people in need “hey do you what this sarcasm?” that they would pick the benevolence of the Christians Jews, and caring non-believers. You really should look into counseling for your addiction to taunting God and His followers, you accuse Christians of doing it but you do it way more than any person of faith I have conversations with, as a matter of fact I cannot remember a time when a Christian conversation ever entered into the level of toxicity toward anybody as yours do toward them.



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cknuck

posted May 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm


nnmns why do you want to know the name of my organization? You want to leave your computer stop trying to criticize every Christian artical and come down and volunteer in the Gulf area? Hahaha.



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cknuck

posted May 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm


sorry should be “article”



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nnmns

posted May 28, 2010 at 5:17 pm


cknuck: “…and come down and volunteer in the Gulf area?”
Oh, and are you in the gulf area, like you imply, cknuck?
I made a valid point, that if Christian (etc.) leaders who have preached that “God” answers prayers, they ought to be out there praying for that very damaging oil to disappear. If they think prayers are answered and that their god is powerful this seems reasonable.
So you respond by talking about “real challenges” as though the idea “God” would perform a little miracle is imaginary. I think it’s imaginary but I’m an atheist. It’s revealing that you seem to think it’s imaginary too.
As for helping, you make all kinds of claims but offer no verification.



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cknuck

posted May 28, 2010 at 6:31 pm


nnmns you are seriously impaired by you hate for Christian it has consumed you. They are their praying and it is foolishness to challenge them to do something they already are doing. Yes they are also the hands and feet of God and they are caring for folk. Only you could find fault with that. I am not at the Gulf area at the moment but I am well represented by many others from my organization. I need not to verify anything to you nnmns, why would I? You do nothing but attack Christian organizations and I am wise enough not to invite a bother. What a joke.



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nnmns

posted May 28, 2010 at 7:58 pm


Constantly you make things up to attack me cknuck. I don’t hate Christians; some of my best friends are Christians. Show me where I expressed hate for Christians.
Admittedly I’m not very happy with some widely known Christian leaders and I’ve noticed there’s no basis for belief in Christianity as it is most often practiced but that is far different than hating Christians.
It is a shame you can’t distinguish the one from the other but that’s your failing, cknuck, not mine.



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pagansister

posted May 28, 2010 at 8:33 pm


cknuck, still waiting for your man (or woman) to take care of this situation.
If I was a hater of Christians, most of my immediate family and some of the posters here would have to be included in that feeling. I don’t hate anyone because of their religion. Do I have fun with some beliefs? “You Betcha”. If one can’t have fun with beliefs, or lack of beliefs…life would be boring.
Do I get ticked off with some pushy people of faith? Yes. Do I get upset with zealots in religions? Yes, but it really doesn’t make any difference what religion those people are. Being human, there are lousy Christians, Jews, Hindus, Pagans, Muslims…poor examples of what their religion represents. So chill out, cknuck. nnmns isn’t a hater of Christians anymore than I am. We just see things differently than you and some others do. Smile, your God loves you.



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pagansister

posted May 28, 2010 at 8:39 pm


BTW, cknuck, I am so not making lite of the man made disaster currently underway. If you honestly think I am, that would be your problem. If I thought praying to your god would help, I’d be in the first row.



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nnmns

posted May 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm


I am not making light of it either. I think it’s incredibly serious.



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nnmns

posted May 29, 2010 at 10:37 am


As it happens some local churches are praying for divine intervention (go to slide 9).

“Pastor Allen Jenkins of the First Missionary Baptist Church in Bay St. Louis led over 20 members of the congregation in prayer at 3pm Sunday afternoon, in hopes of divine intervention with the oil spill. According to Jenkins, other local churches in the area held prayer groups at the same time in a ‘show of unity and strength.’ ” “‘We were praying that the oil slick would dissipate,’ said Pastor Jenkins ‘And that it wouldn’t create any ecological or economic problems for our coast. We know the Lord can work miracles and has our best interests at heart.’

I think that’s touching and appropriate. What I find hypocritical is that national religious leaders, who’ve made fortunes off preaching the power of prayer, aren’t touching this.



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cknuck

posted May 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm


pagan you are making light of this disaster, you can make light of it and the claim that you are not. And you are challenging my God to clean up something scientist created and if you think this bad just wait and see the next scientific blunder. Your behavior is classic but not as much as nnmns, check this out.
Classic nnmns quote, “I don’t hate Christians; some of my best friends are Christians. Show me where I expressed hate for Christians.”
Need I say more?



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pagansister

posted May 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm


You can believe whatever you want, cknuck. You are incorrect, as believe it or not, I am not taking the oil leaking as insignificant.
As to your God…would you say Katrina was man made or was that a divine creation…or the tornados or floods man made? Yes, this oil leak is totally man made, but there should be some divine intervention to help out his/her creations, right? ..that’s all I’m saying. (and if you can’t handle a little humor…once again…that would be your problem, not mine). As I said above, if I hated Christians, I’d have to hate most of my immediate family, all my RC friends, and bunches of other folks. And I actually don’t “hate” those of the Muslim faith, Jewish faith, or any other beliefs that I’m aware of. So I don’t accept your opinion of who I hate or don’t. I just give my opinion on things…like others on this site.
On another note, since this is Memorial Day weekend…I sincerely wish to recognize your service to this country in Viet Nam. Thank you, cknuck.



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nnmns

posted May 29, 2010 at 4:57 pm


ck: “Need I say more?”
Only if you want to try to actually make a point for a change.
“And you are challenging my God to clean up something scientist created”
So? Your god’s not capable of that? It’s a much punier god than I thought you claimed. Or maybe your god’s not willing to help out the innocent creatures and people harmed by some really greedy big businessmen.?
It’s greedy businessmen who caused this, cknuck, not scientists. If any scientists were involved I expect they were saying “Leave that mud in the pipe, fool!” but we’ve heard it was the company man who wanted to get their expensive mud back to use it in another drilling.



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cknuck

posted May 29, 2010 at 7:01 pm


nnmns you sound silly and the only thing puny is you my friend. Scientist were involved what you fail to note is that scientist are controlled by politics and money and most are not nearly as noble as you think.
pagan thanks for the Memorial Day comment, as to Katrina if man did have a role in it’s origin I don’t know, if God did I don’t know, but I do know that disaster is not God’s original intention for us.



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pagansister

posted May 29, 2010 at 8:19 pm


Noah and the 40 days and 40 nights of rain, cknuck? Wasn’t that God’s doing? :o)



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nnmns

posted May 29, 2010 at 10:40 pm


cknuck: “Scientist were involved what you fail to note is that scientist are controlled by politics and money and most are not nearly as noble as you think.”
Scientists were involved in figuring out how to drill underwater. Maybe some scientists said it could be done that deep in the Gulf, I don’t know. But it was the businessmen who said to take all those shortcuts and it was the company man who said to suck up that mud that probably would have held the oil down. It’s greed, as in Greed’s Own Party.
But I don’t claim all scientists are good people. They are human. Some are greedy, some are lazy, some are jealous; some are real prostitutes like a few who argued smoking wasn’t harmful and who then argued we aren’t causing harmful global warming, both because they could get big payoffs from the respective industries.



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nnmns

posted May 29, 2010 at 10:45 pm


But back to my question. People facing the end of the lives they have known are at the beach praying for the oil to dissolve (go away). Why aren’t the religious big dogs doing it? They claim to really have God’s ear. If they believed their own claims they should think they at least might do some real good by such prayers. But you never hear about such prayer sessions.
The pope isn’t. Billy Graham isn’t. You name a famous Christian and he isn’t. I’m thinking they have no more faith than I do that it would work and they hope no one notices they are taking a pass on it. What do you think, cknuck?



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cknuck

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:22 am


pagan are you serious? yes pagan different circumstances



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cknuck

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:26 am


You are sick nnmns your hate knnows no bounds or respect, first of all Billy Graham is in very poor health, harping on him does show your character. Second how in the world do you know what the pope is doing? You do know you are being a first grade jerk, right?



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nnmns

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:48 pm


Asking a question that needs to be asked can be seen as being a jerk by those whose way of life depends on people not asking questions like that.
Who do you work for, cknuck?



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pagansister

posted May 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm


I thought that would be your answer, cknuck…and yes,I was serious, as you believe the Bible and it’s stories. What different circumstances? God punishing us with floods, and allowing the oil spill to continue to leak is different? How? Wasn’t the flood deal because all those creations of his had been goofing off and not following directions?
And since this article is about that oil leak, which is only getting worse….isn’t it time for some “divine intervention”. Human kind in the form of BP is certainly not making any progress in solving this disaster!



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cknuck

posted May 31, 2010 at 1:00 am


pagan I believe that unlike nnmns there is a lot of genuine good and a desire to live in harmony.
I don’t know the answers to many of the questions you ask and I won’t try to lie to you in the name of promoting God as some religious folk do. I do think that much of our problems are man made like the poles melting, the atmosphere disappearing, pollution, ozone, deforestation, plastic, fossil fuel. Should God intervene? Only God can answer that and the truth is we might not like the answer. I care for you pagan as I do others here and I don’t know why I include you in my prayers but I do, even if you don’t believe.



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nnmns

posted May 31, 2010 at 5:51 am


“I do think that much of our problems are man made like the poles melting, the atmosphere disappearing, pollution, ozone, deforestation, plastic, fossil fuel.”
There’s hope for you. Now support the major political party that will oppose those things (if way too weakly) rather than the one that will support them with all our resources.



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nnmns

posted May 31, 2010 at 6:10 am


But my question is not about what “God” does, as you implied to ps. I’ve no doubts along those lines. My question is about the major Christian (and other) leaders who have preached all these years that their god answers prayers and is very powerful.
It seems very clear we humans are at this time unable to stop the flow of that oil, which is doing immense harm to the Gulf and will do it to the people around the Gulf. To stop it short of months, by which time things will be unimaginably bad, will take a miracle.
I want to know why those who claim to believe in a powerful god who answers prayers are not praying for that oil to disappear. I, of course, think it’s because they are as sure as I am that nothing would happen. What do you think?



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pagansister

posted May 31, 2010 at 10:39 am


cknuck: You mentioned you include me in your prayers…..I take all the help I can get…and my lack of believe in your particular God won’t stop me from appreciating your concern/caring. We do certainly disagree about many things…but that doesn’t mean that I dislike you or wish you any harm.



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