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Ministry bridges the Gulf
Churches come together to offer prayers, support to those affected by oil spill
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Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network based in Washington, D.C., has been helping several ministries organize relief efforts for the oil-soaked Gulf. Hescox has personally seen the devastation to the area and its people.

For more information on what you can do or to connect with other churches preparing their own ministry response to the Gulf, e-mail support@creationcare.org.

It's been more than 100 days since the horrific BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that took 11 lives and produced the worst oil spill in American history.

Groups have mobilized all over the country from environmental groups to local governments and churches to clean up the devastation in certain affected areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

And the Evangelical Environmental Network, which has been inspiring Christians to care for the environment for nearly 20 years, is doing its part as well.

On July 18, the nonprofit organized Day of Prayer for the Gulf and offered tools for congregations like worship and prayer resources, Biblical and theological reflections and sample sermon material.

"We know of hundreds of churches that were involved," said Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network based in Washington D.C. "I know churches from as far away as New Zealand to churches on the Gulf, Minneapolis, Michigan, Utah, California, North and South Carolina and Pennsylvania were involved.

But the EEN doesn't plan on stopping its prayers or relief efforts in the Gulf any time soon.

"We are planning a lot actually because the impact on people is just beginning," Hescox said. "We are planning a concert on Sept. 25, another benefit concert which will be in the Orange Beach, Ala. or Gulf Shores, Ala. area."

The EEN ministry hopes to educate, inspire and mobilize Christians in their effort to care for God's creation, to be faithful stewards of God's provision and to advocate for actions and policies that honor God and protect the environment, according to the organization's website. The organization also publishes Creation Care, a Christian environmental magazine.

The response from the Day of Prayer was inspirational to Hescox, who believes God did respond to those thousands of prayers.

"One of the neat things that happened ... we actually had a resolution in Congress and was put in the congressional journal the Friday before the day of pray and to the moment, one hour after that was filed in the congressional records in when the (oil well) cap was put," Hescox said.

Hescox spent about three weeks since June on the Gulf Coast and plans on returning at the end of August.
"We can't let this issue, now that the cap is on, we can't let this issue disappear because it's going to be years (before the Gulf is clean again)," Hescox said.

The Rev. Paul Smith of Romar Beach Baptist Church in Romar Beach, Ala. joined forces with the EEN for the Day of Prayer for the Gulf.

"We were doing a lot of same things and we had a lot of the same activities planned," Smith said. "I got in touch with them and ... some things we are doing together, too."

Both Romar Beach Baptist and EEN are working together to plan the benefit concerts for local residents.

Romar Beach Baptist is one of the only churches directly on the Gulf Coast. Smith did say that the beach and water looked beautiful Friday.

"I'm sitting right here looking at the beach and praise the Lord, finally it is looking good," he said. "I see no oil in the water after so many weeks where I would see either black gooey stuff on our beach or see the brown water out there."

The oil that was gushing a month ago might be over for the Gulf as BP has closed in on a final seal by pumping cement into the blown-out oil well. On Friday, fresh cement was pumped into the top of the well to hold down mud that is stopping the sea floor gusher.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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