DENHAM SPRINGS – Livingston Parish’s faith community played an important role after the Great Flood of 2016, but that role is vital every day in the parish, two public officials said.
“If not for our faith-based community, your churches and congregations, we would not have made it,” Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry said.
Landry and Parish President Layton Ricks addressed the annual Pastors Appreciation of the Kiwanis Club of Denham Springs, on Thursday.
“We couldn’t wait for others to help,” he said. “You stepped up.”
The parish’s pastors serve as mentors to public officials, he said.
“We’re thankful for the messages you give us,” Landry said. “Y’all are our shepherds, to make sure we do what we’re supposed to do.”
“When I started running in 2011, I worked for Alvin Fairburn,” Parish President Layton Ricks said. “When we talked about my running, I said we don’t have any money. People don’t know me.
“He repeated over and over, ‘You got to have faith.’
“I learned in politics -- dealing with disasters – your faith is tested. Strength and faith can carry you through when you don’t think you can make it,” Ricks said.
“Our pastors across this parish and other parishes got us through that August flood,” he said. “We can’t talk about churches and pastors and faith without talking about it.”
Ricks said the parish and public officials learned a lot from the flood and he credited “the faith-based churches that stepped up.”
“I’m very fortunate in the seven years I’ve been in office, I rarely meet a pastor who doesn’t say, ‘I’m praying for you and other elected officials.’ ’’
“The first three to four years in office were really tough. My faith got me through that,” Ricks recalled.
“Just because you have faith and are a Christian and pray for an answer, it may not be the one you want or think you need.
“Sometimes you have to pray for the strength to handle a problem. That’s the nature of the position I’m in,” Ricks said.
“You’re hit daily from different angles about things that are important” to someone even if someone else thinks it is a minor problem, he said.
Public officials learn to respect people’s points of view, he said.
“I relied on my faith through a lot of things, through my daily life,” Ricks added.
“Do I make mistakes? Yes, I do. But it’s nice to know I have pastors across the parish who pray for me to do the right thing every day.
“I know your faith is tested too,” he told pastors in the audience.
“Things have to weigh heavy on you. Only through Him and the Holy Spirit can we get through and make the right decisions.”