Marcelo Schneider's blog from the US Living Letters visit

The Living Letters blogs are written to share about visits to specific countries or regions around the world, organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Decade to Overcome Violence initiative along with assistance from local coordinators, churches and other organizations. The Living Letters blogs are personal narratives from members of the "Living Letters" team and do not necessarily represent the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

Ground Zero New Orleans - part two

The visit we made to several areas of New Orleans has caused impact in each one of us. It is hard to see the concrete devastation caused by Katrina, even if this happened more than two years ago. Many wounds are still visible in New Orleans. But there is also hope and strength, such as the ones that move Brenda, one of the few members of Beecher Memorial Church, from the United Church of Christ, who are living in their own homes.

Rev. Dr Bernice Powell-Jackson, the North American President of the World Council of Churches, is the pastor of Beecher Memorial. She took us all by the hand and shared the pain of the members of her congregation and the suffering of the people in New Orleans. It was through the eyes and witness of one of the most proeminent leaders of the WCC that we knew New Orleans and its call for help.

\"Most of the rebuilding work around here is being done by chuches or for Habitat for Humanity\", said Bernice, when we were visiting the Lower 9th Ward, the closest neighbourhood to the Mississipi river.

Looking at the new levees that are supposed to hold possible future floods from the Mississipi was also intriguing. If these are the new ones, how high were the previous ones, that had a direct influence in this man-made tragedy?

You can learn more about this area watching this video:

It was clear that the suffering from this people and their ability to cope has shown us that the churches have a decisive role to play in New Orleans. Many of them are already doing on a local level. Many are also the messages and material support being sent from several parts of the country, but we still wonder how much can be learnt from these people\'s cope and attachement to their roots.

Sacrifice, reconciliation and communion are some of the theological keys that have appeared in our informal coversations during and after the visit.

Later on, we all went to the Snug Harbor, a famous jazz club in the French Quarter, and were blessed through the hands of an incredible line-up of jazz players from New Orleans, including Ellis and Jason Marsalis. It was a healing moment to all of us. And we sure had glimpse of what this city has to offer to the world in terms of culture. Sorrow is still there. So is beauty.

Posted By: Marcelo on Sep 25, 2007 11:50PM