Hello, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church Community,

In year 2001, I answered the call to ministry. In early September, I made preparations to pack my things and move to Princeton, New Jersey, to commence theological education. On September 11th, two hijacked airliners hit the twin towers in New York City, and on September 13th, I was making my way to seminary to that same region to begin ministry in a time of upheaval, crisis, and rebuilding. On Friday, September 14th, the seminary held a service on the national day of prayer. At the service, the President of Princeton Seminary, Tom Gillespie, mentioned that he thought now more than ever, it was a critical time to be entering the work of ministry and the task of theological education. Now more than ever, he declared, the world needs the church's ministry and pastors, chaplains, and repairers of the breach.

These are not the circumstances I would have chosen to begin in ministry with you, but that doesn't really matter anymore. What matters is that in the midst of all that is swirling around us, we continue to find ways to care for each other, to worship God together, to look out for our neighbors, and to find ways to stand with and to serve those in need in our community. In that sense it is the right time to begin this ministry and to enter into this common work together. Thank you for welcoming me and my family into this community; I am ready to join you now more than ever.

As you know, we are already planning how best to use our resources and to support the hurricane relief efforts in our community and region. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, RHINO was established to help with such efforts and to work for restoration and rebuilding in this community. As we prepare for such efforts again, we invite you and all who are interested to give to the RHINO/Hurricane Relief Fund (www.scapc.org/relief) and when able to give your time and energy to support our efforts to support our brothers and sisters in Christ right here in New Orleans and our surrounding communities.

While Hurricane Ida was a destructive storm and there were some small leaks and a few spots with some water inside and some debris outside, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church sustained minimal damage. I know that is a relief to us all and a cause for gratitude as well.

As we make our worship plans this week, it is most likely that we will not be gathering for worship in-person, but we will provide a service online for all who are able to participate. That service will be emailed out to the church community on Sunday, September 5, 2021. We may have to continue this way for several Sundays until the power grid comes back online and we can ensure the church is ready for our return.

In the meantime, please contact me (318.469.7000) or Sarah Chancellor-Watson (918) 645-2407), as we seek to move forward together, care for each other, and strive to be an embassy of Christ's kingdom in our community.

In faith, hope, and love,