BPFNA staff members Evelyn Hanneman and Bob Spinks have been in New Orleans this week at the annual meeting of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. Here's their brief report on the final day of the meeting...
As most such gatherings go, the attendance today, the last day of the conference, seemed smaller than it was yesterday and Monday. Although there was a reported registration of more than 800, you wouldn't know it from the size of the crowd today. But, as is also true in such situations, less booth traffic meant that we were able to spend more time with each visitor -- a reward in itself.
As you may know, the National Basketball Association (NBA) All Star Game will be played in New Orleans this weekend. In advance of the game, "NBA Cares," the charitable arm of the NBA, is staging a number of high visibility projects around the city. We learned from our friend Tronn Moller, a consultant to Churches Supporting Churches (CSC) and a midday visitor to our booth, that the NBA had provided CSC with 500 vouchers to be given to individual members of CSC churches for gift baskets of groceries and toiletries that will be distributed Saturday afternoon. Tronn was pleased that CSC had been included in the NBA's generosity.
You'll recall from our earlier notes that the focus of our attention this week has been on the work of CSC. We welcomed three CSC pastors to our booth today and were grateful for their help in introducing and explaining the organization to those who stopped by. The pastors were Charles Duplessis (for the third consecutive day), Sam Johnson (again), and Marvin Turner.
In our conversations toward the end of the day, as we sort of evaluated our time here, we agreed that the biggest benefit we had received was a deeper understanding of the tragedy that had occurred and, more importantly now, an appreciation of the complexity of the problems that remain. It seems to us that there are a growing number of outside groups that are offering help that doesn't meet the needs that those who live here tell us they have. We hope we're not among that number, of course. We want to believe that we're responding to the carefully considered needs that our partners have expressed, that we're able to meet those needs, and that we're not compounding an already horrendous disaster. This isn't the appropriate place for a philosophical discussion about it, but, at least, we have a better picture of the enormity of the task.
We also realize that we need a lot more help if we're ever going to make substantial headway against these needs. Perhaps your church would be interested in learning about CSC and would consider becoming a sponsoring congregation. You can send an email message to LeDayne McLeese Polaski, our colleague who directs this program, by "clicking here" and requesting more information.
Perhaps you'll also consider a generous gift to BPFNA to directly help underwrite our expenses for our leadership in this program. They're considerable and they're worthy of your prayerful support. You can easily make such a gift at our secure site by "clicking here."
It's been a blessing for us to have been here in your stead this week. As always, we're grateful for every opportunity to speak and be seen on behalf of the great cause we share.