Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina (search) hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush has asked religious leaders around the country to join him in a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance (search) on Friday for the storm's victims.
But once again, several pastors said, the government was a step behind.
While many houses of worship planned to participate, several others around the country said they had already held such services and would not join the president.
Rabbi David Kaufman of Temple B'nai Jeshurun (search) in Des Moines, Iowa, said he has also been mentioning the evacuees at every Friday night service — the start of the Jewish Sabbath.
The Rev. Enoch Fuzz, president of the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship, which represents about 100 Tennessee pastors, said his group planned nothing different for Friday, but was focusing on organizing more aid for victims.
"We need a prayer that's walking and not just talking," Fuzz said. "We need a prayer with legs right now."
Still, worship services have been especially important in the Gulf Coast and in communities that took in large numbers of evacuees, and many planned to join the national event Friday. Congregations across Texas, which helped provide support for tens of thousands of displaced survivors, were preparing special prayers.
Cantor Seth Warner of New Orleans, who was uprooted to Houston with his wife and 4-month-old son, plans to attend National Day of Prayer services at Temple Beth-El (search) in San Antonio on Friday night. For Warner, it will be a day of mourning but also of hope.
"I think God is in the soul of those who have been heroes, God is in the midst of those who risked their lives for others, God is in the hearts and minds of those who have given up something so that others can have a little bit, too," he said.
Bush planned to attend a service with other religious and political leaders at the National Cathedral (search) in Washington. Interdenominational services were set for state Capitols around the country, and in Roman Catholic churches. Catholics have a strong presence in the Gulf Coast and many dioceses have suffered extensive damage.
Park Street Church (search) in downtown Boston planned a prayer service Friday afternoon. Several church members have immediate family affected by the storm.
"Naturally, they carry very much the burden of grief and concern, and we're just joining them in helping to carry that burden," said the Rev. Gordon Hugenberger, who leads the church.