New Pastor Has Quite A Task Post-Katrina - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/02/05

New Pastor Has Quite A Task Post-Katrina

"Back in April, I came down to interview with this church and to preach before the congregation, and that was the only time I set foot in the pulpit and was able to preach from the pulpit," said Pastor Guy Richard.

Now, the pulpit of First Presbyterian in Gulfport is laying on the floor.

The pews are missing, and the wall that separated the foyer from the sanctuary is just a memory.

"We're estimating about 25 feet of water got into the sanctuary at least because the pipes that are up about that high had water in them," said Richard.

Nearly four million dollars of damage.

It was quite an overwhelming welcome for Pastor Guy Richard who was set to take over his first church as senior pastor on October 2nd, leading a flock of nearly 300 members.

While Richard has not questioned why he was chosen to lead this church during this time, he believes Katrina has ironically answered his prayers.

"From the beginning of January, my prayer has been to the Lord that he would build this church, that he would grow this church and not only this church, but He would reach out to the whole Gulf Coast area, and if is the way He can do it, then I think most of us would say Amen. I think people are open to the Gospel like never before because they've lost everything. There's nothing here to hold them to this world anymore. They see how finite and how frail life itself is, and that's an opportunity for the church to reach out to love people and to show them the love of Christ," said Richard.

Richard says his responsibility is to be faithful to his congregation and to his community through service, a duty that does not take a building to fulfill.

Pastor Richard is married and has two children.

First Presbyterian of Gulfport now meets on Sundays at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium of Bayou View Elementary School.

By Karla Redditte

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