Remembering the 11 Lives Lost

Note: This post is part of a series of blog entries by members of After the Spill, a faith-based group formed in response to the April 2010 Gulf oil spill.

By Rev. Dr. Cory Sparks
Chair, Commission on Stewardship of the Environment of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference
(Originally posted on

On April 20, the Sierra Club held an interfaith memorial service on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster. Dozens of New Orleans residents met for a sunrise service in the Washington Artillery Park, between Jackson Square and the Mississippi River. Rev. Sparks’ prepared remarks remember the 11 men killed:

Dozens die every year in the oilfield. Their deaths don’t get much coverage, maybe a paragraph or two in the back pages of the paper – stories about a helicopter crash, an explosion, or some other little noticed horror. The deaths on the Deepwater Horizon drew far more attention because of their sheer number. But they quickly became the prologue to a greater drama as the life of the Gulf and the livelihoods of thousands were thrown into question.

For the next 109 days we were transfixed by a slow motion tragedy. The world watched and worried, wondering if we had somehow broken the earth. It’s fitting that we gather to remember that time at the close of another period of waiting, the 40 days of Lent in the Christian tradition. Lent is a season when Christians reflect on the ashes to which we return and the hold that death and darkness have on our lives and our hearts. It culminates this week as Christians commemorate the last hours of Jesus’ life. There’s a powerful spiritual message in this season: The story that seems to end in the cross and the grave does not. There is hope even beyond death, a resurrection possibility for new life.

This resurrection promise speaks into the lives of those who died a year ago in the disaster. It provides comfort to families who lost sons, brothers, fathers, and grandfathers. This hope also speaks to the entire Gulf Coast as it heals. We experience a portion of that hope as we give thanks today that after 109 days the well was closed and we didn’t destroy the Gulf as we’d feared. But we’re called to live deeper into that hope as we battle the oil’s continuing effects on wetlands and wildlife.

As a new day dawns this morning, we know that we will restore our coast and preserve our way of life. We will hold BP and others accountable for the cost. We also will move forward with the resurrection promise of something more. At the close of this year of loss, at the end of this 40 days of Lent, we hope and pray that our region will find a sustainable future, a future built on energy that’s safer for people and for the environment. That future will not be built in days but in the months and the years and the generations to come. It will be the greatest memorial to the eleven men who died.

In memory of my mother, Anne Sparks, July 13-1943 – April 18, 2011. She was a blessing.

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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