Featured Faculty Pub Blue

Ellen Blue

Mouzon Biggs, Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity and United Methodist Studies

In Case of Katrina
Reinventing the Church in Post-Katrina New Orleans
on Amazon

Video Interview with Dr. Blue.

Religion Dispatches' interview with Dr. Blue.

From the publisher Since six months after landfall, Ellen Blue has taught "The Church's Response to Katrina." It sidesteps disaster response, where clearly the church should be involved. What was unclear was how leaders in a connectional denomination like United Methodism should decide which churches to merge or decommission after floods destroyed seventy churches and displaced ninety pastors, and no one knew how many members would return.
Katrina gave the church a chance to re-make itself without deteriorating structures in no-longer-thriving neighborhoods. Yet as members returned to chaos, they sought solace. Should the church meet needs for Sanctuary and reassurance or use newfound flexibility to seek justice?
In Case of Katrina examines leadership strategies and the theological convictions that underlay them during the struggle to decide. The larger United Methodist Church controls real estate, and the hierarchy had the power to choose. Instead they let verdicts spring primarily from congregants and pastors on the ground through a long, controversial process. Recovery has been entwined with issues of race and class. Cooperation among African American and Anglo congregations has birthed vibrant multi-racial worship and ministries. Yet other prophetic ministry was left undone, and it should set the agenda for the next decade.


"Here is a fascinating study in theology, sociology, and ecclesiology in the midst of one of the greatest disasters in the history of the United States. In Case of Katrina is a vivid telling of the life of the institutional church and the people who make it come to life and cling to life in the depth of crisis. This recounting of decisions, directions, and devotion to the task of rebuilding is like reading my own life story as I lived it from 2005 to 2012 and beyond. From August 29, 2005 to the present, Dr. Blue faithfully takes the reader into the anguish, anxiety, anger, and awakening of the United Methodist Church in New Orleans as they forged their way to new life following what could have been a permanent death knell for a multitude of communities of faith. If you want to experience the rebuilding of the Church in New Orleans from a United Methodist perspective, this is the book to read. It is authentic and accurate to the point of being frighteningly real and alive."
--William W. Hutchinson, Retired Resident Bishop of the Louisiana Area, 2000-2012

"Important lessons are often missed when people rush in to help without taking a closer look at what is going on in situations of pressure. In this book, Ellen Blue is taking a close look at the United Methodist Church in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the lessons are substantial. Powerful alternatives for the future of the church are emerging where most people would least expect. This book is part of a growing cloud of witnesses that testify to the fact that the study of religion and theology is best done under pressure."
--Joerg Rieger, Cal Turner Chancellor's Chair of Wesleyan Studies and Distinguished Professor of Theology, Vanderbilt University Divinity School   

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