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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Houses of worship intend to remain open this weekend

By Jim Davis
Religion Writer

October 23, 2005



Congregations across South Florida pushed to keep their doors open this
weekend despite the threat of Hurricane Wilma.

"We have shutters for the church if it's Category 3 or higher, but we
haven't even put those up yet," said Criss Bertling, spokeswoman for
Spanish River Church in Boca Raton. If Wilma does come, she said the
church will serve as a shelter for its employees and regular members.

At First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale, the 35 deacons are calling 200
homebound seniors to learn who may need to be moved or need shutters put
up, said the Rev. Mike Jeffries, associate for the Rev. Larry Thompson.

Church leaders are also contacting young couples, families and single
adults, Jeffries said. "We want them to know what to expect and how to
prepare. Some have never been through a hurricane."

Christ Fellowship was planning regular services at its Palm Beach Gardens
home campus and at its satellite location at West Palm Beach's CityPlace.
But the Wellington services are canceled because the site, Polo Park
Middle School, will be closed.

"We have an outreach ministry for assistance, but it hasn't been activated
yet," spokesman Mike Anthony said. "That could change when the hurricane
gets closer."

Chabad of South Broward is planning its Simhat Torah dinner-dance for 7
p.m. Tuesday, although Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus may shift gears if the
hurricane comes this way.

"In Jewish law, when something is doubtful and something is definite, you
stay with the definite," said the Hallandale Beach rabbi, who founded the
first Chabad Lubavitch center in Broward and Palm Beach counties. "Simhat
Torah is a definite. You can't cancel a holiday."

Beyond that, he said, his Chabad of South Broward is following normal
storm-time practice: calling on the elderly, delivering supplies, seeing
who may need to be moved. But Tennenhaus isn't planning for the worst.

In Fort Lauderdale, the Rev. Michael Hoyer has a simple storm-time rule:
Celebrate Mass if someone shows up.

"I tell people that if I can make it to church and you can make it, we'll
go with the schedule," said Hoyer, of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic
Church. "With all the storms last year, we only canceled one Mass. On that
one, nobody came."

He also believes in prayer, of course, and the church publishes one in the
church bulletin every week during hurricane season. The prayer reads in
part:

"God our Father, Creator and Lord of the universe, you have set the Earth
on its foundation and all the elements of nature obey your command. We
humbly beseech you to keep us safe from all dangers and calm the storms
that threaten us."

"We've come close, but since we've had that prayer, we've never had a
hurricane here," the priest said.
Copyright � 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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