Last night while talking about the importance of service, Barack Obama said:

When a hurricane strikes, as it did with Katrina, we have to have a FEMA that works, which by the way, means that we should be encouraging young people, the best and the brightest, to get involved as civil servants, to pursue careers of public service so we’ve got people who are trained in federal emergency management who are able to take on the job. … Now, that does not crowd out the Red Cross. That doesn’t crowd out the thousands of church groups that went down there. What it means is that each area has a role to play.

This is a nice sentiment, but for too long it has just proved not to be the case. Heritage’s Ryan Messmore explains:

As government claims responsibility for more tasks, it absorbs the allegiance that citizens once placed in other relationships and forms of association. … This encourages citizens, instead of looking to their families, churches, or local communities for guidance and assistance, to depend on the government for education, welfare, and various other services. … Excessive bureaucratic centralization thus sets in motion a dangerous cycle of dependence and social decay.

Fortunately this situation is beginning to change. Pursuing a strategy of resiliency, FEMA’s new Center for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives is reaching out to churches in times of disaster like never before. The Christian Emergency Network is encouraging “churches in Texas and the entire Southwest to volunteer to provide shelter and set up relief stations along anticipated evacuation corridors.” Churches can help coordinate their efforts by registering with CEN’s Founder Mary Marr said, “The Church is so valuable to our nation, especially at times like this. We have an untapped capacity to respond to emergencies. We just need to be asked. Well, we are being asked, in a big way.”