Katrina Remembered: Anna Journal January 3, 2007

Just a few short months after St. Anna’s Church reopened following the flood waters of Katrina this article was published. Consider where we were and from where we have come. From time to time I plan to dig up old articles from those Katrina times and share them on this the year of the Tenth Anniversary of Katrina.

 From the Anna Journal January 3, 2007
“St. Anna’s Is Falling Apart!”

Recently, I received word that a person once belonging to St. Anna’s said that the church was falling apart and members were leaving. Also, recently our Bishop observed that all congregations in New Orleans could do a lot better in Evangelism.

On December 10th at 5:00 P.M. our Bishop made his annual visitation. On a Sunday evening we had 72 in attendance, which I have been told is a very large turn-out for an evening visitation. We confirmed or received four. Not too bad for post Katrina. We blessed five different missions of the church and one mission to the city. In each mission blessing including feeding, medical, music, and education no less than two were presented for blessing and as many as a dozen were blessed. I cannot help but believe that such blessing has a transforming effect. It was a wonderful evening!

Just after Katrina we counted no more than twenty pre-K members regularly present at worship. Now I count 37 regular canonical members on the rolls and most attend on a regular basis. I am not counting the children  many of  which would increase the rolls to about 40. One of these core members is in diaconal training and should return to us this spring. We have another ten to fifteen “regular worshipers” on Wednesday nights that claim St. Anna’s as their church but have yet to become “canonical members” of the church. In addition we have baptized about 5 in 2006! Ten members have transferred out because they have moved away. Six members have passed away and we miss them. Ten members are displaced but stay in touch with St. Anna’s and attend whenever they are in town. Ten are believed to be in town and have chosen to stop going to church or have decided that anther church is for them. Given the turbulent times that we live in, broken social structures and dramatic changes that continue to take place at St. Anna’s I trust and believe that we are doing well. Four years ago when I arrived at St. Anna’s the parochial reported noted average Sunday attendance at 35. Just before Katrina we were at 70-80. We are still a bit better off than four years ago. Some of the anxiety arises naturally in that the congregation is “new.” Many revered members have passed away: Betty, Vicki. Cirilio, Nellie, Katie, and Bessie. One of the old guard moved shortly after I came and she is missed Sarah Townsend. But new faces have stepped up like Dotti Suthon with her daughter Kate; Megan Buchanan and Jan Boney. Church is home and when new members come into a family it is uncomfortable and when some leave it is very sad but such is the nature of church. We are touching the lives of poor and unfortunates daily and many come to mass even for just a Sunday. St. Anna’s is not falling apart!

The budget for St. Anna’s four years ago was about $160,000 which is about as lean as you can get it. The budget for St. Anna’s is now about $325-350,000! TRUE, much of that budget is grant driven or supported by partner parishes. But, it is significant to note that in 2003 we had a budget of less than $15,000 for mission of any sort most of which was grant driven. In 2007 mission funding will be about $170-190,000 most of which is grant driven. We are handling our operating expenses by generous giving from parishioners and partnering churches; awaiting the day when, by the numbers, we are fully self sustaining without a reliance on extraordinary gifting. Draw your own conclusions but as far as we your vestry and leadership can tell we are OK. Can and must we do more – YEP! So, as we used to say, “Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ at St. Anna’s.” Organic growth is always the most effective. Also, diaconal trainee Elaine Clemmens has invited parishioners to “walk the neighborhoods” surrounding St. Anna’s to share with our neighbors the good news of Christ in Community at St. Anna’s. Volunteers!?

FALLING APART. WE DON’T THINK SO! Busy overwhelmed at times, under-staffed at times, yes. But we are on the move doing SOMETHING for CHRIST!

The Hits Just Keep on Coming

 St. Francis Church- Stamford, CT. Charity finds its way to New Orleans Again! For the past year St. Francis has been doing a “second collection” during services. They have kept the St. Anna’s mission and name alive by prayer and action. In a recent deliberation of the “St. Anna’s Mission Committee”, and later that of the Vestry, St. Francis, has sent us not only their prayers but a gift of $10,000. They have requested that the funds be used to replace our ancient main electrical service panel on the “Old House”, which has been done, along with other minor upgrades at a cost of $7,800. The remaining funds will go to the Medical Mission to assist in paying Luigi’s salary as assistant to Diana and driver of the Medical RV. Should you wish to thank them personally for their support you may email parishoffice@stfrancisstamford.org. THANK YOU ST. FRANCIS! On another note, we are sad to report that The Rev. Richard Mayberry, friend of St. Anna’s and rector of St. Francis have recently retired from service at St. Francis, our prayers go with him.

Pete and Diane Dawson – Chippewa Falls, WI. Long time friends host Jazz Charity Benefit for New Orleans Musicians. In the early winter of 2006 several towns’ folk, small businesses, Christ Church and local jazz artists joined for a wonderful time of food and music in Wisconsin. Over a 1,000 tickets were sold and the purpose was to raise awareness and monies for New Orleans musicians. The Mission Focus was outreach and spreading the word about New Orleans richest treasure her musicians. One of the jazz artists in Wisconsin had spent considerable time in New Orleans as a street musician and is considering a move back to our city. This was a large and significant undertaking and our city, our church, and the musicians cannot express the degree of gratitude that we feel for the work, sacrifice, and time involved in “Keeping the Music Alive [in New Orleans]”. The result of the fund raiser was a check in the amount of $2,000.00! If you would like to thank the kind folks of Chippewa Falls or Pete and Diane in particular please email them thanks at padawson@centurytel.net.