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Read more of Kim Lawton’s March 19, 2007 interview in New Orleans with the Rev. Jerry Kramer of the Church of the Annunciation (Episcopal):
Q: Nineteen months now after the storm, give me a sense of day to day life here. How has it changed since we did our story last year? How is it better, how is it worse?
A: It’s still really hard, and we don’t really — I was sharing with the congregation Sunday — don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel yet, just as people of faith and hope we have to believe it’s out there and keep working towards this. I mean, good things are happening. Our neighborhood will be 60 percent repopulated by December 1. Our church is growing, which is exciting and unusual. You know, 60 percent of all parishes, all denominations in 3 civil parishes, are closed for good, and of the 40 percent of us remaining half will probably close in a year to two. But we’re growing in numbers and, I think, in faith. Our family’s back in our house, and that’s certainly a big victory, and it’s great to be home. So, you know, good things are happening, and we need to dwell on those things, but we still have an incredible road in front of us, and I just — there’s no way people around the country have any clue what we’re dealing with here and the uphill fight that we’re enduring right now.
Q: Let’s talk about some of those challenges. You shared in a newsletter recently that you were, a couple weeks ago, at your lowest morale point since the whole thing began. Why was that?
A: Well, you deal with a lot of pain and stress every day, and it builds up. You know, we have people here every day, broken. We had three suicides in one week right around the church here, so you have to absorb a lot of peoples’ pain and hurt constantly, and then you look at issues on sort of the macro level, with the total collapse of government here absolutely, and the incredibly slow pace of something resembling progress, and it builds up. I think a trigger moment for me was we had a neighborhood association meeting and actually our neighborhood Broadmoor meeting — the neighborhood’s doing really well, but still I sat there and thought of all the struggles we have to endure right now. I mean, we’re still fighting life and death, and we’re probably out there well ahead of the pack for neighborhoods that got wet, and I thought to myself, gosh, what about the others, how are they enduring this right now, you know, if we’re at the head of the pack? For example, we’ve received a charter for our neighborhood public school, and you have to have school to have a neighborhood. We received a precious charter. We’ve hired a great company from out of state to run the school for us, but we don’t have a building, and what the state wants to do is put us in temporary facilities on the other end of town in a housing project that’s not repopulated in a blighted area, that’s basically crime, drugs, abandoned, and that’s supposed to be our neighborhood school? So we’re going to have to fight battles like that, and it wears on you, and morale just goes up and down, up and down, and really about two weeks ago was, I think, our lowest ebb since Katrina, and it’s just the totality of the stressful environment we live in.
Q: You said there are a lot of people dealing with emotional problems, mental problems, spiritual problems. How do you deal with that as a pastor?
A: We have about 200,000 people in the city right now, and we probably all have post traumatic stress disorder, just some are brave enough to admit it. But we’re all wounded in some way. I mean, we’re talking about being in this siege for 19 months now, and we’re talking about the most fundamental elements of life, you know, security, housing, schools for your kids’ future. Those things will wear on you, so, you know, the most pressing, demanding things in life are always at play here. You got a tremendous amount of uncertainty and frustration, and it really grinds people down, and you just see people getting sick a lot, I think. Their defenses are down. We have a lot of pneumonia around here; the elderly get sick quite frequently. I mean, some of them are just giving up. You know, they know they’re not going to live to see their city rebuilt, their neighborhoods rebuilt, things like they were, and so it wears you down. Pastorally, on my end, I have to be up, you know. I have to constantly be up or best I can, and if I can’t be up, I need to withdraw for awhile from the battlefield, so when I’m in it, you know, I can respond to what’s happening in people’s lives, and it’s just a constant struggle and ebb and flow. And we’re very — we’re low on mental health providers here in the city, probably one of the greatest needs we have right now. It’s just clergy in the trenches.
On Ash Wednesday, I went to the hospital to visit a parishioner, and I had my little ash kit and Communion kit. This guy saw me in the elevator, and he looked over at me and he said, “Busy day, huh?” And I said, “Yeah, it’s kind of the Super Bowl for me.” He said, “Hmm,” and it was dead quiet for a couple of minutes. The elevator’s taking forever. He looked over, and he said, “You ever given ashes to anybody outside an elevator before?” And I said, “No, but I’m adventurous like that.” So I did, and all of a sudden people just came running. They had been watching, and I just stood there and gave ashes and blessed people, you know. I could have stayed there all afternoon doing it. So, you know — a great need for pastoral care and ministry in the city right now. It’s all over, and it is — I’m tired. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m tired.
Q: How do you, in the midst of that, think about writing an Easter sermon, especially this season — preaching and urging people to talk about hope and new life, all of those themes, given everything folks here are dealing with?
Q: Well, despite the pace we’re on right now and what we’ve been through, I still bounce out of bed every day to get here. You know, I love what I do, and I think the great thing is to see what God is doing here, and there is great hope. I’ve seen transformation in lives. We’re seeing some inklings of racial healing. I go down to the Lower Ninth Ward throughout the week. Pretty much I try to get there most Sundays. You know, pre-Katrina I would have had no business going down to the Lower Ninth Ward. I didn’t know where it was. Now I have friends there, people that I can really call friend and call me friend with the black folk down there, and we enjoy each other. We spend time together and we’ve really bonded, and I mean that’s grace, and that’s something God’s up to in this mess. God didn’t cause this storm. Where God comes in is in the redemption of it and in the resurrection, which again doesn’t mean resuscitation. It means something new — new life.
And what we’re doing here on the campus — we’ve converted our whole main building to dormitories for mission teams that will house 100 people at a time for the next 10 years, and people smarter than me say we’re going to contribute a million dollars a year in volunteer labor to the city of New Orleans. One little church that had annual giving of $50,000 a year before Katrina? I mean, that’s God, and that’s exciting. So, absolutely, if you have eyes of faith, you know, and eyes to see, God is moving here powerfully in people’s lives and in the community. You have to look for it, and you have to see, really, through those lenses of faith what God is up to, but we see little mustard seeds blossoming here and there. And heck, yeah, that’ll preach on Easter Sunday.
Q: You’re naming the dorm here Resurrection House. Why?
A: It’s really been our battle cry from day one here as we saw, after the total bleakness of when the levees broke, that God does promise to make things new in him. And that, again — we’ve talked very seriously about this, that resurrection doesn’t mean Jesus just didn’t have air breathed back into his body, and it was the same old Jesus, and he just sort of got up and put his business suit on and went back to work. It wasn’t like that at all. I mean, the early church struggled to describe what it was like encountering him. I mean, he could eat, and you could touch him, but he could still go through walls and through the doors that were closed. So there’s something new and something different about resurrection, and I think that’s what God is calling to us here — it’s a new mission field here, it’s a new environment, and you have to adapt to be relevant to bring the Gospel forward in this environment. And so this sort of calling at Resurrection House, I think, captures this church’s commitment to rebuild and renew and restore, but also to be different from the way things were before, much more powerfully for the kingdom than before, far greater impact, reaching out deeper than we ever thought we could, shining light in darker corners than we ever thought we might able to, but with that resurrection power we can go into those dark places, and it’s happening, and it’s great. We’re just a little tired.
Q: I jumped straight to resurrection without talking much about Good Friday. Are there new connections, new resonances with suffering, abandonment, some of those themes that come out when you think about Good Friday?
A: I think the better focus for us is not to sort of — I mean, suffering’s here every day. We deal with it. I mean, it’s Lent year round. I told the folks this year you don’t have to do anything for Lent; we do it all the time. I think the better theme, because we see so much suffering, the Christian response is self-giving. We’ve seen the cross in a new way and in the model that we’ve tried to really strike home hard for the church here is that Jesus on the cross held back nothing. There was nothing left of him on that cross. Imagine if he had held back something for himself. Where would we be? And the model for the church is the church can hold back nothing, and if the church itself is trying to keep something for itself, then it’s not being the church. It’s not being the faithful church, bride of Christ, because it’s not acting like Christ himself. And so really the battle cry has been to, like Jesus on the cross, give everything, and that could mean something as simple as — I’m not talking about just our volunteer hours, our labor in the community, but giving up our comfort zones, giving up our comfortableness. We used to be a nice chapel sort of church, pretty stained glass windows, great people, you know, really good worship, wonderful community; it was all good and great. But God is calling us to something more, something different right now, and it takes a lot of sacrifice. I mean, we’ll be worshipping with our mission teams here for 10 years with them running in and out, and opening our doors in God’s grace to people who are really broken, and it challenges you, and you have to give up a lot to do that, but that’s our model, and the cross is ever present with us in that call to self-sacrifice and really learning what “die to self” means. And we’re really learning here that discipleship comes at a cost. I tell them, if your faith is not costing you something dear, it’s not faith. It’s got to cost you. And we’re learning that the hard way. But that’s the life of Jesus we’re called to live, and we just have that hope for down the way, and I tell folks it’s not faith if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re out in the water, and you can see the shoreline, and you know it’s there right in front of you, that’s not faith. Faith is being out in the storm in the boat and the waves rocking you and not being able to see the light and not being able to see the shoreline and still going forward. That’s faith, and that’s what we’re learning.
Q: What about you personally? How have you changed? How have you grown spiritually? What has been your biggest struggle as you’ve tried to be the shepherd in the midst of all of this?
A: I think the biggest challenge I have is having to multitask on so many levels constantly at a frantic pace. The big issues are we have a lot of broken, wounded people here and people in great need, so you have to do pastoral care ministry and take care of the flock, and then you have to do your other churchy stuff around here, prepare sermons, and teach, and do all that. But then you also have to — the reality is I have to raise about $3000 a week, or hope $3000 a week comes in somehow to keep us afloat. And that necessitates, now with people sort of forgetting about us or not hearing about us very much, I have to get on the road a lot. So probably two Sundays a month I have to be on the road telling the story of what God is doing here, and that’s a real challenge, because if I go on the road for too long they hang on the chandeliers here. I’m afraid I’m going to find the deacon bound and gagged in the closet when I come back. But the problem is if I stay here too long I can tell, because we’ve gone broke or gotten close to it. So it’s that fine balance there. I think for me personally it’s just been this total daily dependence on God. Just, to just pour your heart out to God daily and realize that every step forward is by God’s grace, and trusting in that and just letting him lead and not — I mean, God wants our total focus. He wants our total trust. And it’s so to the point where I can’t trust this one person that I’ve always relied on anymore. I can’t trust in any of these things I used to rely on before. It’s God and God alone, and that’s been the lesson. That’s the pruning lesson going on in my life right now — hard lesson, but a good lesson.
Q: You’ve had your own physical exhaustion. You’ve been sick yourself.
A: Oh, yeah, I mean I had all kinds of infections. I had fungal pneumonia for about four months. I wake up in the middle of the night with hives — that’s from stress — burning hives up and down my arms. That’s not a lot of fun. And good luck trying to get health care here in New Orleans. So yeah, I think your immune system is really susceptible, they’ve broken down, you’re susceptible to a lot of things right now. In the air there are just all kinds of bugs, and we all get sick up and down. Mold is still around. I’m allergic to mold, so yeah, we have our health challenges here.
Q: How much are you seeing people still coming and volunteering? You mentioned feeling like people are forgetting about you a bit. Are you feeling like people are pulling back, neglecting New Orleans?
A: I think generally people are really good and responsive and wonderful around the country when they hear the story. The problem is they’re not hearing the story. They think by and large either we’re done with Katrina — I mean they see the Superdome packed for Saints games or Mardi Gras, not realizing that its — that a lot of those people are from out of town or from unaffected areas. Or seeing Mardi Gras parades, and it’s just tourists coming in. In the old days what would happen was people would send money. That was great. Then the next phase was we could sort of write for it. We could send emails out and get help. Now I have to get on the road physically and go tell the story and show the pictures, and this happens every trip that I take. For the rest of this week I’ll be on the road, including a 12:50 a.m. redeye flight to get from Point A to Point B. What invariably happens is we raise up a mission team, and then about three days in they’ll pull me aside, and they’ll say, “Jerry, we’ve got a confession to make to you.” I know what it’s going to be, but I’ll say, “What is it?” And they’ll tell me, “When you came and spoke to us about New Orleans, we thought that you were either lying or crazy, but now that we’re here it’s worse than you described,” and I just tell them I try to paint a picture, but you have to smell it and touch it. So what happens is that when people come in and see it, see the work we’re doing, how hard we’re fighting every day and, you know, the good and the bad, the progress, and just the breadth of work to do here, and damage still, people are very responsive. But we have to work harder and harder and harder to get that story and keep the story alive around the country right now.
Q: How encouraging is it when you do have volunteers coming, just to have them coming in and helping out?
A: It’s such a lift. This morning when we took our group from Tennessee down to the Lower Ninth Ward, what happened was this woman who used to live in the Ninth who lost her house, her mom lost her house, the car, her with pneumonia, they pulled over to greet us and thank us, tell the folks, ask the folks where were they from and “thank you so much for coming.” And it’s incredible. We have about 14,000 college students coming in for spring break estimated, and, you know, everybody’s talking about it: “Have you seen those college kids on the corner, picking up the trash? Have you seen those college kids working on the house?” The heart of it is it’s the work being done, but it’s also so important to us to feel not forgotten: “Oh, my gosh, people are still coming in. We haven’t been totally abandoned here.” From a faith perspective, really, that’s how we see God’s faithfulness. What I see and we see is when people come in to our aid, that’s God saying I have not abandoned you. I will not leave you orphaned. I will always be with you, every step of the way. You know, be of courage and good cheer, and that’s what they do for us. These people to us are the hands and feet of God coming to our rescue and working out his salvation plan for us here. That’s how important that is to us.
Q: How do you respond when people say New Orleans is not worth rebuilding? All the problems and all the corruption here — why bother? Just accept it and move on. What do you say to that?
A: Well, first off, New Orleans is so important to the national economy. The port system in and around New Orleans is the largest port system in the country. I tell folks around the nation when I go about is if we go away you’re paying eight dollars a gallon for gasoline. You’ll have no salt, no sugar, no Mississippi Valley produce. About a million jobs around the country depend just on the port of New Orleans. So, I mean, there’s an economic impact right there. I think the other piece of it is this great American city with great Americans, but it’s a unique culture. Anybody who comes here will tell you there’s no place like it, that’s for sure. Great story I heard when I came to New Orleans: I was the new guy and they told me, “Here in New Orleans we don’t care what kind of car you drive, what kind of home you live in, what kind of money you make, what kind of job you have. The only thing we care about in New Orleans is whether or not you have a story,” and that so sums up the people here. They are just the warmest, most interesting people I’ve ever been around. But I think also a very important part of that is, are we really going to fail here? As the American nation, are we going to let this fail? Are we going to admit defeat? When I was pulled out of the boat from the water, the European media asked me a question, and it was an antagonistic question. It was, “Are you Americans finally humbled now? Do you finally realize that you can’t do everything you think you can, or do what you want to do? Are you finally defeated?” And I looked right back and said, “This kind of stuff happens. The American spirit is we will persevere, and we will rebuild, and we will come back.” Now this is one week after the storm, standing in the water. I said that’s the American spirit — that we will come back and fight and we will win. Well, we’re not winning here right now. We’re not winning. Is the nation really willing to admit a defeat here? I don’t think so, and we’re here fighting, boots on the ground, and this is a patriotic struggle for us. People need to get that. We are fighting for a great American city without much help. We’re the holdouts here at the Alamo. We need cavalry, we need reinforcements. But we see this very much as a patriotic struggle to save a great American city, and it’s our patriotic calling. This is the battle of our lifetimes, of our generation. We see it this way. We’re in a war here, and this is the great struggle that will define us. I think it says something about our whole nation, how New Orleans goes.
Q: Is it still your fight? People would say you’ve really done your share. You’ve put in a lot and given up a lot. Do you ever feel like, okay, I did my duty, now it’s time for someone else to step up?
A: Never, and boy do I get that. Matter of fact, a couple of weeks ago when I was at my low ebb, a number of friends around the country had great concern, started arranging job offers and places to be, but I am not leaving my people. I’m not leaving my flock, and I would be a bad pastor if I did. The good shepherd stays with his flock, and I have to do it. Would there be easier places in the world? You bet, but I’m committed to this fight. But I’m more committed to my people, and I will not leave them, absolutely not.
Q: When we were here a year ago, you were worshipping in a doublewide trailer, and you were thinking that this sanctuary, the old church, wasn’t going to be salvaged. You were going to build something else. Tell me what happened.
A: We were in our doublewide building, worshipping away. The record in the trailer was 146 one Sunday. It was hotter inside than out. Plan A was we didn’t think we could salvage the old main building; it just wasn’t going to work. So what we went towards was what we could afford insurance-wise, was a modular building. So we ordered a $200,000 modular building that would seat about 200 people, and we could have multiple services there, and great, fine and well, we can afford that. The problem with the main building is, once you get into it you can’t sort of be half pregnant. You have to do all the plumbing, all the power, all the infrastructure, and it’s very pricey in this market right now. So the modular building was on its way from somewhere in the southeast, being towed in. All along the architects and engineers told us it would be about $50,000 in site prep work. We bought a lot to put it on, so that was good. And then right when the modular building was on its way to us, we got word from the city that it was going to cost about another $250,000 in site preparation. The city had classified it as permanent commercial, so now our little modular building we could afford was up to half a million dollars without anything in it yet, or anything done to it, just a shell, and that made no sense. So within a couple of hours the church leadership and I got together, stood in the old church, looked around and said we’ve got to move back in. Now, of course, we had had the poor bishop come out and he had to do this emotional, heart-rending, awful deconsecration service. I cried through the whole thing like a baby, had to apologize to him afterwards for losing it, and I know it was hard on him to sit there and watch me sit there and blubber. It was hard on everybody. Then we had to get the poor bishop back here to reconsecrate the old building, which he was a great sport about, and we had an awesome day, and it was — we just packed the place. Our mission church, All Souls, came and did the music. We had a gospel blues mass, and actually the bishop received 12 of their members into our church, and it was a beautiful, it was lively — wonderful. Now we have no power inside, and we do get sick from the mold. We don’t have bathrooms, or they’re just starting to come about right now, but the folks are pretty happy to be back in the old church. You know, it is home. Even without power and flooring and walls and things like that, we’re home. Sunday mornings are kind of interesting, because it can be so cold in there I can see my breath when I preach. The folks are pretty happy, though I’ve got to cut the sermon time down a little bit now. But it’s great to be home. Some folks from the outside coming and seeing it might wonder about it, but for us it feels great.
Q: You mentioned your mission church. How did that come about?
A: That was the work of the Holy Spirit. We were down in the Lower Ninth doing relief work for about a year. The diocese had a mobile relief union down in the Lower Ninth, and driving it was a Nigerian priest who didn’t have a full-time parish ministry. He was driving the van. There were about 75 churches in the Lower Ninth pre-Katrina, and now they are just maybe a small handful, and the local residents there approached him knowing that their churches weren’t coming back, and they were very cognizant of the fact we had been there for a year serving them faithfully with no expectation of anything on our part — just there to serve. But they realized we were committed to the neighborhood and the people, and so they asked us, the diocese, would we start a church down there for them. So we put Father Shola down there, and our bishop and diocese picked up his salary, and we scrambled for the money, for the operating support. They began in a garage that went completely under water and have grown from maybe 12 or so people to, you know, they can sometimes get 60 to 80 on Sundays, and it’s wonderful. They’ve actually had to move into — they’re sharing space now that a Baptist church has come back, and we’re looking for permanent property for them there in the Lower Ninth. So, again, God is doing something new. We have a thriving mission church in the Lower Ninth. They’re my friends, they’re our friends, and that wouldn’t have happened without Katrina. They come worship with us, we go worship with them, we eat a lot, it’s New Orleans, and it’s really great.
Q: Earlier you spoke about the health care system. You mentioned that it’s pretty tough here still.
A: Health care here is a huge issue. I mean, if you’re uninsured, if you’re indigent poor there’s just basically nothing for you. I mean, you’ve got to get out of town to really get health care, literally go to another city, to a charity hospital. I have insurance. I went into a local hospital for a simple blood test. It took me eleven-and-a-half hours just to get a simple blood test. First night I was there, I was there for three-and-a-half hours. Not one person in the ER was seen. And while this was going on there was a woman who had had ten brain surgeries. She had a shunt in her brain that was leaking, and they put her on a gurney up against a wall, and she was convulsing and throwing up, and not one medical person went over to her the whole time. Those of us in the waiting room — I had a fever and was sick as a dog, and we were cleaning up her puke and trying to keep her comfortable while no one came over. I finally had to get home, and the next day I had to wait eight hours, just waiting around for a simple blood test at an insurance hospital. The problem, even if you have insurance, it’s just the waits but also the lack of specialists in here; if you need a specialist it can be very hard to find somebody, particularly with any speed. We’re telling people right now that if you’re not in perfect health, don’t come back. And the issue for us — we’re so beyond the issue of who’s coming back. The issue now is who’s staying. We know there are three hundred and some thousand people that haven’t come back, well, it is 19 months now, and really the reality is what about the people who are here? Who are we going to keep? You know, we have 320 homes for sale in the neighborhood right now. That’s what we need work on.
Q: Bill and Dottie, the couple we visited in the FEMA trailer last year when you took them Communion — they were in church this Sunday. How are they doing?
A: They’re doing well. Their struggle right now is they both have pretty significant medical issues, and getting medical care. Dottie needs her whole back reconstructed, her whole spinal system, and trying to find a Medicare doctor that’ll do that for her, and Bill’s got issues with hepatitis C, and so they’re driving all over the state right now trying to get medical care. For those two it’s real hard, you know, she [needs] a handicapped van. It takes hours to get her sort of ready and up and out. But, God love ’em, they looked great on Sunday. But, you know, it’s such a lift when they come because we know how hard it is for them to get here, and when they come it’s just a big lift for the congregation. It’s always good to see them.
Q: You mentioned you were growing. How many people did you have pre-Katrina? How many do you have now as part of your congregation?
A: When we got here in January of ’05 there were probably about 50 on Sundays, and then as we were working our way through the summer we were 80, 90-ish or so. We were really doing well, and then Katrina hit. That took us down to, well, we started as kind of a house church with 5 people on a weeknight again and then chipped our way back, and you know, if everybody’s around here now we’ll see 100. People travel though a lot, in and out, but also with All Souls with us now that could put us to 160 to 180 on Sundays. And then you throw in the mission teams with us, too, which are always great, so it bounces up and down. We’re seeing, though, our church is getting blacker. We’re picking up more African American folk. A lot of the churches just haven’t come back in white neighborhoods, and our doors are wide open, and we’ve done good ministry in those communities. I think they realize, the community realizes that we’re with them and we’re together. We’re all “those people” now, like the bishop likes to say. We’re all “those people” here in New Orleans. We’re also getting younger, which is real exciting. We’ve got younger families moving into the neighborhood and coming back, and so we’re seeing a youth movement here in the parish, and it’s bringing a lot of life to the community as well. So [there is] a lot of hope for us, and I love looking at us. People come and visit us, and they say we hear about diversity but this church actually does it, has it, and it’s great. You can see everything out there on Sunday morning, and that’s the kingdom, and that’s the way it should be. And we — that’s very intentional on our part, to be a church where all can really come and feel welcome and involved and part of the family here. You have to work hard. That doesn’t happen by accident. But we do.
Q: What is the role of the church in the community, and what can and should a church be in a community?
A: The church, first of all, can really be an agent for change and transformation out in the front lines, being relevant to what’s happening in peoples lives, and you have to work hard at that. We’re constantly trying to assess what’s happening in our own community, and my heart for mission here and, I think, God’s heart’s for people — God’s heart is not for carpet, God’s heart is not for stained glass or steeples. God’s heart is for people, and so to be constantly vigilant about what’s going on in people’s lives in the community, and we can’t do all things and be all things to all people, but what we can do is identify unmet needs that we can address and work very hard to make an impact on peoples lives on those levels, and that’s what we’re committed to here. It’s a safe haven for people we find in a very busy, stressful situation — a place of sanctuary, a place of prayer, a place of community, a place to connect, a safe place to connect with other people. You know, when you get to share with other people who can sort of resonate with you or at least are willing to listen, you know, you get your humanity back. I think we felt like cattle for a while, and to actually have a place where people can share their stories, and when you share your story it means I’m still alive, I still matter, I count, I have feelings, I’m a person, and a place where they can receive that love and openness to them. And then also I think very importantly from a teaching point is — with sort of the despair and the flux around us — that prophetic voice to remind people what God is up to here, to point to the mustard seeds blossoming and give them hope and encouragement and rally them to be part of it as well. I’ve found throughout all this that the people who are serving others and caring for others and going out of their way and giving of themselves are the healthiest people emotionally right now. It’s the ones who are kind of hunkering and bunkering and holed up and depressed, not doing anything — of course they’re going to be depressed. I try to encourage folks to pick up a broom, pick up a mop, go muck a house, go listen to somebody, go work the relief lines, do your soul some good, be people for others because that’s what God wants us to be. Constantly God’s heart is for people, God’s heart is for us, and we have to share that love. So it’s a back and forth. It’s a place where we come to be fed and to learn and to rest and to have fellowship, but also it kicks our butts back on the streets, because the church is in the street, you know. That’s where God’s moving, and we have to follow that wave out there and get behind what God’s up to here. God’s in the restoration and redemption business, and we’d better be, too.