Here is some good news from New Orleans.
Dillard University, the highly regarded historic black university with ties to the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church, plans to re-open as early as this January. Dillard’s campus was heavily damaged during the floods brought about by Hurricane Katrina and a subsequent fire.
New Orleans, Louisiana – Dillard University officials today announced that plans are underway to commence classes as early as January 2006 at a site in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dillard University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tulane University to provide temporary facilities for Dillard “back home” while the Dillard campus undergoes extensive repairs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In making the decision to relocate in New Orleans, President Marvalene Hughes, Ph.D., said: “The board of trustees, in consultation with various stakeholders, sought a solution that would reconnect the Dillard community physically, emotionally and spiritually, as well as enable the important work of teaching and learning to commence without further interruption.
Click here to read the full press release.
One of the buses evacuating Dillard students also caught fire. No one was injured but many students lost all their possessions.
Dillard is an exceptional institution. This community has endured much. If you are looking for a place to make donations this school should be on your short list.
The school’s chaplain, The Rev. Gail Bowman, also has an important message this week that speaks to all those who wonder what God’s role is during such disasters:
There was something about the re-evacuation that got to me. Friends who were struggling to settle themselves in new places were suddenly on the road again, this time accompanied by those who had taken them in, all of them seeking a second shelter. This was a new kind of “awful.”
You may have survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath without asking Why, O God? But when Hurricane Rita followed so quickly after Katrina, many of us were not able to avoid posing the question of why all of this is happening. Self-appointed experts on the subject of God’s motives have enthusiastically told me that Katrina was God’s punishment for New Orleans’ sins. However, this answer is a little too simplistic for me. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” [Romans 3:23]. If God undertook to punish sin in earthly time and in any kind of comprehensive way, “who shall stand?” [Psalm 130:3] Besides, in Katrina’s aftermath, many who suffered and died were poor people, and the Bible indicates God is especially partial to and tender toward the poor.
Events like the hurricanes, and the December 26, 2004 tsunami for that matter, raise the question of God’s participation in so-called “acts of God.” Like many believing people, I am able to accept that God allows natural disasters but I will not accept that God initiates natural disasters, especially as a punishment. Disasters are one of the ways we tell the difference between heaven and earth (this is, most decidedly, earth) but the whole story is not told in the disaster and what seems to have been lost. There is also story, God’s story, in what is gained and learned in strife. But even in these two pieces the story is incomplete, because there is yet more story that lives within unknown God-touched areas in each of us, and in the mysterious places between heaven and earth where God works in seclusion and with brilliance.
‘God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are God’s ways our ways,’ [Isaiah 55:8]. The elegance of this truth is that when it comes to human beings and what God is saying to us and teaching us, there are no limitations, and there is always more. This is not a good time to put what we think God is saying into words; this is a time to listen.
Let us keep Dillard University and her students, faculty and staff in our prayers.