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10/13/2005 3:10 PM

A Shout-out To Churches

(from the Morning Advocate in Baton Rouge)

Article

Let's have a big "Amen!" for the churches and temples and mosques of Louisiana. They have been truly doing the Lord's work by caring for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

President Bush's assistant working with faith-based initiatives called the work of the religious community an inspiration.

"This has been remarkable to see in Baton Rouge," Jim Towey said as he began a tour of the hurricane zone. "This has been a profile of compassion in this community."

He particularly praised those churches and other institutions that have disregarded the rule book, opening sanctuaries and other spaces for the displaced and distressed -- often in smaller institutions dependent in large part on holding services and passing the collection plate.

"Compassion isn't easy, and there's a lot of fatigue out there," Towey said. "This isn't easy work."

He encouraged the faith community leaders and flocks to brace themselves for the long haul in relief efforts. He quoted the singer Woody Guthrie: "My sabbatical turned into a Mondical and a Tuesdical."

Patience, civility and realistic expectations about the future are vital. "The worst thing that can happen is for people to have zeal, get disappointed and quit," Towey said.

Amen.