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NCC groups meeting in New Orleans
will focus on Gulf coast rebuilding

New Orleans, Louisiana — May 19, 2006 — With the official start of the 2006 hurricane season just two weeks away, the National Council of Churches (NCC) is planning back-to-back delegations to put a faith-based spotlight on rebuilding and recovery efforts in the New Orleans area ranging from housing and the environment to economic and racial justice.

Next week, the NCC Governing Board will hold its quarterly meeting here so members may get a first hand look at hurricane relief and rebuilding efforts. 

The Governing Board will hear a report from the Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, which is also meeting in New Orleans next week.  It was established last September to call on government and other entities to keep justice at the forefront of all rebuilding efforts: justice for residents, justice for the land and justice for the workers rebuilding the Gulf Coast. The Special Commission has requested a meeting with the Governor of Louisiana to coincide with its meeting next week

Part of the three day meeting (May 22-24) will include visits to some of the damaged areas as well as this city’s convention center, site of such human misery immediately following Katrina’s arrival. There will be a “Prayer Vigil Walk for Justice and Compassion” from the meeting site at the Doubletree Hotel, 300 Canal Street, to the now infamous Convention Center at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 22. Prayers of petition and intercession will then be offered by local and national clergy.

On Monday, the NCC’s Eco-Justice Program will sponsor a special training for clergy and church trustees on building a sustainable church building. The session, “Rebuilding Congregations & Caring for God’s Creation: Environmental Stewardship that Makes Sense” will introduce both clergy and church trustees to practices that help reduce congregational expenses while protecting God’s creation from pollution and toxics. Theological reflections, practical, hands-on ideas and tips on energy efficiency will be included in the training.

The Eco-Justice program will then return to New Orleans, June 1-4, for its bi-annual conference which will be held at Loyola University. This national conference features various learning tracks and plenary speakers from the faith and environmental community.

According to Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, NCC’s general secretary, “We decided to have our meeting in New Orleans to help the local economy and to bring a message of hope and encouragement to the many people of faith and others who have worked tirelessly since Aug. 29 to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. The NCC is firmly committed to help with the long-term efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast region and our presence over the next few weeks is evidence of that commitment.”

Faith-based relief agencies, such as the NCC's partner humanitarian organization, Church World Service (CWS), have received and distributed more than $100-million and have helped coordinate countless numbers of volunteers who have come to the region assisting in the rebuilding efforts. 

The NCC’s Governing Board acts on behalf of the NCC General Assembly between the Assembly's annual meetings on all responsibilities except for those reserved for the General Assembly by the Council's Constitution. 

NCC News Contacts: Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, or Leslie Tune, 202.544.2350


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