Here's the church, and here's the steeple, open the doors and see all the people... |
Though only feet from the beach, Main Street United Methodist Church in Bay St. Louis was miraculously spared by Katrina. The sanctuary, more than 100 years old, was virtually untouched with the exception of her steeple, which fell and blocked Second Street.
"We had several families who weathered the storm here, and they said it sounded like a bomb when the steeple fell," said the Rev. Rick Brooks, who has led the church for four years.
The steeple was salvaged by a neighbor when an independent cleanup crew nearly bulldozed it. There has been talk of using the damaged steeple to create a downtown monument.
"Amazingly, the sanctuary was spared, but we got water in the fellowship hall from rain and some flood waters," Brooks said.
Like many, this church has been host to volunteer groups from all over.
"We had our last group leave just three weeks ago. They moved to Gulf Side Assembly in Waveland so we can make necessary repairs and resume church life and activities," Brooks said, "though we've lost a large section of our seniors and 50 percent of our congregation are still displaced."
He estimates 85 percent were homeless after the storm.
"Katrina has obviously shaped us all in a new way," Brooks said. "This place is one of the best places in the world and was hit hard as was the entire Coast, and the resilience of the people amazes me. One thing I have noticed is we have more people who have gratitude and goodness of life. Used to, the congregation would quickly scatter after the service and now... they linger. Our community has been strengthened and now it realizes what is important."
- PATRICIA "TSH" HANCOCK