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The United Methodist Church Creates a Voice for the Voiceless on Gulf Coast

United Methodist Communications
810 12th Ave. S.
Nashville, TN 37203

October 20, 2005

Contact: Stephen Drachler
(615) 742-5411 office
(615) 456-4710 cell

The United Methodist Church Creates a Voice for the Voiceless on Gulf Coast

NASHVILLE In the first of two commentaries due to be published Friday, The United Methodist Church is urging that local people be at the table for the planning and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. The commentaries urge commitment to a fair and inclusive process that creates better places for people to live.

The paid commentaries will appear in The Washington Post, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and the Baton Rouge Advocate in Louisiana, the Mobile Register in Alabama, and the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald and Jackson Clarion Ledger/Hattiesburg American in Mississippi. The second commentary is planned for next week.

"These commentaries are an important part of the church's mission. As Christians, we stand at the intersection of the concerns of the world and the concerns of the church for the world," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "The rebuilding efforts pose tremendous challenges, but also remarkable opportunities. It's important to stand with those who are poor and vulnerable and too often forgotten by society," he said.

The commentaries were developed by United Methodist Communications, in consultation with bishops of the affected regions, the officers of the Council of Bishops, agency heads, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The first commentary encourages broad local input and participation in the rebuilding process.

"Involving people from all walks of life in the reconstruction of areas devastated by the hurricanes will provide the insight and creativity to create communities that are stronger and more vital than ever before," said Jim Winkler general secretary of the denomination's General Board of Church and Society. "Functional cities and neighborhoods will emerge if residents are given a voice in planning and rebuilding."

The copy reads:

In Rebuilding, Set a Place at Table for All

As the humanitarian crises caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita gradually slip off the evening news and front pages of our newspapers, the hard work of rebuilding communities is just beginning.

Following the catastrophic losses of these tragedies, people came together in remarkable and concrete ways, showing concern, compassion and generosity. Across the country, people banded together and lived the biblical call to be our brothers' and sisters' keepers. We all learned that communities are not just places where we live and work, communities are the people who make those places unique.

We pray that this renewed understanding of community will inspire the rebuilding of the devastated areas. In order to rebuild a community, not just a city or town, it is crucial that those people who live there have a voice in the reconstruction. And it's equally important that local companies share in the work and local residents are hired to do the labor, and are included in the planning.

Restoring communities also means encouraging and respecting all the voices of the community. By supporting equal access to housing, education, employment and medical care, rebuilt communities will be even stronger than before.

By incorporating local residents and businesses in the rebuilding process and laying a foundation of respect and equality, communities will not only be renewed, but the efforts to reach their reconstruction goals will also enhance human values, encourage personal and political involvement and open neighborhoods to people of all races, ages and income levels.

In the aftermath of the hurricanes, the outpouring of support was compassionate, fair and inclusive. And it is with these values that communities will be rebuilt.

The people of The United Methodist Church
Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.

Contributions to hurricane relief may be made at One hundred percent of donations made through The United Methodist Church on behalf of communities damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be used in the rebuilding effort. To obtain more information and add your voice, visit