Post-Hurricane Bright Spot: Seminary Rebuilds While Also Helping Others

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Katrina cut the power lines, but couldn’t douse the light of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, says Chatlos Foundation President.

As hurricane season draws to a close and media spotlights have turned away from flooded areas, students and staff at colleges such as the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) continue to cope with disrupted classes and devastated campuses.

The school was established in 1917 “for the purpose of being a lighthouse in a city of great need,” explains NOBTS President Chuck Kelley. After the levees broke in early September this year, more than ten feet of floodwater submerged the campus, but “the light of our steeple shone brightly. It was a beacon of hope in the midst of a broken city.”

Many have taken note. “Here’s a college that is doing more than coping,” says William J. Chatlos, president of The Chatlos Foundation. “They are continuing their students’ educations, cleaning up their campus for next year, and at the same time, supporting the community around them.” Earlier this month, he suggested that Americans could celebrate the end of hurricane season by donating to organizations that will continue their relief efforts for many months to come.

“We are not a seminary recovering from great disaster,” says Kelley, “as much as we are a seminary preparing for a great opportunity.” Students and faculty left their ruined residences but continue classes, both online and at the seminary’s North Georgia campus. “Learning a new way to do seminary classes is a challenge for many of us,” he notes. Always optimistic, Kelley even views graduation as an opportunity. “History will be made in December!” he exclaims. “For the first time ever NOBTS will hold graduation services outside of New Orleans,” in Birmingham, Alabama. “More than 100 students have already applied for graduation,” Kelley reports with satisfaction.

Meanwhile, volunteers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, and as far as Canada have come to clear rubble and clean student apartments. NOBTS staff invited the community to use the campus, including the cafeteria, which feeds over 400 people a day, according to their Restoration Update. “Along with the NOBTS workers, electrical and gas workers, police, FEMA contractors and military eat at NOBTS…the only hot meal in the area.”

Come January, some classes will resume and some offices will reopen in New Orleans, but much work remains. Most campus buildings are undergoing extensive renovation and mold treatment, but the oldest and most heavily flooded student residence buildings must be torn down and somehow replaced. “Some things will be gone forever, but some new things will take root and become a vital part of who we are and what we do,” says Kelley. “The campus is literally changing every week.”

Contributing to hurricane relief work is important, Chatlos says. “We count it a privilege to be able to assist the NOBTS.” Chatlos encourages others to take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate and support the rebuilding efforts of beacons of inspiration such as the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. How can you help? Keep the light shining. During this week of Thanksgiving, celebrate the coming end of hurricane season. Then give thanks – and a donation – to an organization of your choice that continues to light its neighborhood with hope.

To learn more about New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and make a donation, visit

About The Chatlos Foundation:

The Chatlos Foundation funds nonprofit organizations in the USA. Support is provided to organizations currently exempt by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. The Foundation’s areas of interest are: Bible Colleges/Seminaries, Religious Causes, Medical Concerns, Liberal Arts, and Social Concerns. The Chatlos Foundation, Inc. is a private, philanthropic foundation and does not solicit or accept donations from the general public.


CJ Leff

The Chatlos Foundation


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