Biloxi Church Keeps East Biloxi Roots

The continued struggles of people in East Biloxi has reinforced the Church of the Redeemer's decision to keep a presence there, even though the church building is moving north. After Katrina, members voted to move the 150-year-old church to Popp's Ferry Road, and to renovate the parish hall on the original site. It's now a center of activity in East Biloxi.

DeMiller Hall is a church building but there's much more than worship services going on inside.  Church leaders say they want to help the people who can't help themselves.

These days the Interfaith Disaster Task Force and the Steps Coalition can worry about serving the community instead of how to pay for office space. The Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi is letting both organizations work out of its parish hall rent free.

Rev. Jane Bearden said, "We are sustained by our relationships here and the relationships that we've built with organizations that are not necessarily connected with the Episcopal church but do work for social justice."

Also inside DeMiller Hall is one of the few day care centers in East Biloxi. There is also space here for worship services and community meetings.

"There are not very many places in East Biloxi that are large enough to accommodate large community meetings," said Rev. Bearden. "Communities need to come together. They need to meet together to hear what's going on, get to know each other and be able to come together and discern where they need to take a stand."

The Hispanic Outreach is the latest to come under the DeMiller roof. People can worship in Spanish, get help translating documents and soon they'll be able to learn English.

Rev. Margarita Swetman said, "So they'll be able to do the simple things like going to the restaurant and going to the grocery store to buy groceries. Teach them the most important expressions so they can function in our community."

Church leaders say they're happy to be a place the East Biloxi community can depend on now and for the future.

"It's exciting. It's really exciting," said Rev. Jane Bearden. "It brings joy to my heart."

The Church Of The Redeemer plans to convert the front part of its East Biloxi property into a memorial. Members say they intend to have the Camille Memorial repaired and also add landscaping.