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Faithful step up to assist those stricken by disaster

Sun., Sept. 4, 2005, midnight

The images from New Orleans may be shocking, but Inland Northwest religious leaders said the disaster of Hurricane Katrina may lead to a better world.

“God makes no mistake,” said the Rev. Dr. C.W. Andrews Sr., of Calvary Baptist Church in Spokane. “Out of all of this, some good will come.”

Services this weekend have been and will be filled with special prayers and financial collections for those hit by the storm.

“We believe that we can have impact in little-old Spokane,” said John MacPherson, pastor of Zion Christian Center in north Spokane. “If the Christian Church comes together, we can make a difference.”

Like many churches, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Cheney will pass the plate twice today, with the second offering earmarked for the hurricane victims, said Jose Hernandez, the pastor.

At services in Temple Beth Shalom in Spokane this weekend, prayers were said for the victims. Congregants were directed to an aid organization that will assist refugees and help rebuild synagogues damaged by Katrina, said Rabbi Jacob Izakson.

Pastor Lonnie Mitchell, a Louisiana native, said the disaster has made him think about what would happen to his congregation at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church if a disaster struck Spokane. The church is developing a plan so church members can contact each other in a crisis.

He’s also considering heading south to provide spiritual help to those who have lost so much.

“I believe that people’s lives are going to be even better through this disaster, because people didn’t realize the tremendous poverty that is down there,” Mitchell said. “Poverty was really revealed to everybody.”

Pam Van Does, pastor of Rathdrum Community United Methodist Church, agreed that the disaster brings social justice issues to the forefront.

“We’ll certainly be looking at issues of ‘Where is God when disasters like this happen?’ ” Van Does said of today’s service. “We’re used to these things happening in other places; we’re not used to this kind of large-scale disaster in this country. It’s kind of a reality check.”

Besides other collections for hurricane relief, a member of the Spokane Friends Church will raffle off a quilt she recently finished to raise money for victims, said Nick Block, of the Quaker congregation.

It’s hard to know how much the church will discuss the hurricane, because most of the Sunday service originates from the church members, Block said.

However, he said, “I’m certain it’s on the hearts of an awful lot of people.”

“People are quite unnerved by the death, the disease, the delay. There’s some confidence lost, tremendous confidence lost, in terms of what would happen if it was me,” Block said. “We have to build confidence and tolerance in each other.”

At the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church, Fr. Stephen Supica will read a six-paragraph prayer for disaster.

“…We beg of you merciful God to comfort the grieving, guide the displaced, shelter, feed and clothe the distressed victims of this calamity…” the prayer says. “Rebuke the floodwaters and order the winds to blow once more with moderation, let the wake of destruction that Hurricane Katrina has unleashed be stilled, and lead us back unto your tranquility.”


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