St. Roch Community Church: New Orleans, LA (Eighth Ward)


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Serving Along Side Us

“One of the biggest mistakes that North American churches make- by far- is in applying relief in situations in which rehabilitation or development is the appropriate intervention.” -Brian Fikkert

Creating A Common Lanuage

In Corbett’s and Fikkert’s book When Helping Hurts they outline three primary ways people are helped including:

  1. Relief: the urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid to reduce immediate suffering from a natural or man-made crisis.
  2. Rehabilitation: restoring people and their communities to the positive elements of their pre-crisis conditions.  The key feature is a dynamic of working with the victims as they participate in their own recovery.
  3. Development: is a process of ongoing change that moves all the people involved- both the “helpers” and the “helped” – closer to being in the right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation. Development is not done to people or for people but with people.

Philosophy of Missions

We are so thankful for the countless volunteers that have come to New Orleans to serve since Hurricane Katrina hit in August of 2005.  Our city is forever indebted and would not have witnessed the great strides we have made if these selfless servants had not come to bring aid and relief.  Many have fallen in love with our city and have actually moved down to help pioneer education reform, plant new churches and bring new innovations & life to the business community.  All of this is really great news and is part of restoring the peace and prosperity of the city.

Years after the largest natural disaster to hit the US devastated our city, the need for relief is far behind us.  We must be diligent about supporting works of development both at the community and individual level.  We must recognize the dignity in our neighbors and not institute policies, practices and philosophies that communicate “You have nothing to offer” when, in truth, they are the most qualified to bring systemic change.

This being said, much work remains to be done.  Many houses still lie in ruin, families need ministering to, there is still much work to be done in education, community development, business and beyond. Most of this work now falls into the category of development. For our community to experience lasting transformational change at foundational levels, leadership from our community must be the ones leading with the hard work, investing the human capital and supplying industrious creativity to care for our neighborhood’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  There remains a need for outside support but that which is “not done to people or for people but with people.” We waver in our effectiveness to be successful in this, nonetheless, we are committed to learning from our mistakes and pressing forward.

If you are interested in learning more about this time test philosophy of ministry check out the Christian Community Development’s section on Leadership Development.

The Shift

Moving forward from here, we are making a few changes to the way we facilitate mission teams and volunteers for the health of our neighborhood and for those coming to serve.

  1. We will  facilitate a training on When Helping Hurts (www.whenhelpinghurts.org/book.php). Reading the book prior to coming is helpful but not mandatory.  We also suggest, but are not requiring, Sharing God’s Heart for the Poor by Amy Sherman and available at http://www.cepbookstore.com/p-6188-sharing-gods-heart-for-the-po.aspx. Questions at the end of each short chapter can be used to facilitate group discussion.
  2. Funds for work projects are dried up and as a small church we simply do not have the needed financial resources. Therefore, we need teams to help fund the work they will be doing so we are now requiring a $20 per diem, per team member to help cover the costs of your work project.
  3. We are also asking that all team members raise an additional $20 per diem, per team member to fund our Indigenous Leadership Development Initiatives (internships, staff positions, financial literacy, jobs training and more). This can come in the form of a financial contribution or in-kind donations of the actual materials needed. We are very thankful for all of the teams that come but, as mentioned earlier, true transformation of our community will only take place if indigenous leaders are developed & raised up. This is also to emphasize the importance for team members to value long-term, foundational strategies.
  4. We also are asking that each member consider bringing a bag of clothing to donate to our thrift store, Restoration Thrift Store. Check out www.restorationthrift.org for more information.
  5. We would like for you to be creative about how you label your trip maybe calling it a service and learning week or a launching point as opposed to simply referring to it as a mission trip.  While your team will certainly be on mission, we don’t want missions to 1) be reduced to one week of missions mentality that encourages the other 51 weeks to be mission-less; 2) perpetuate paternalistic ideas that team members are here to save the day; 3) help team members see the value and assets that the poor have to offer them. Your time will be an opportunity to learn, observe & serve. We want your team to go back to your community better equipped and inspired to enter into transformational acts of mercy with the materially poor that are marked by relationships of mutual indebtedness.
  6. We are strongly encouraging groups to commit to engage in debriefing and strategy sessions among themselves for up to a year following their time of service and learning. We want your time in New Orleans to serve as a spring board to seek the peace and prosperity of your neighborhood, city or town.

For more information or questions, please contact Ben McLeish at ben@strochcdc.org or 504-564-7739.

Housing

We are unable to house volunteers but a variety of options are available at http://www.gnopc.org/resources/housingoptions.html

Payment

Payment for team must be sent prior to arrival and checks should be made out to St. Roch CDC, 1738 St. Roch Ave. New Orleans, LA 70117.

Worshiping with us

If you plan on worshiping with us on Sunday or Wednesday while you are here, please note that we are not able to accommodate groups larger that 15.  We have a small sanctuary that seats about 100 people so visiting groups that are bigger than 15 begin to create a seating challenge for our regular worship crowd.