07/23/2010 08:26 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Faith At The Gulf, Part 1 (VIDEO)

They are the first responders to the spiritual crisis wrought by the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico: faith leaders in the coastal communities whose task is to minister to the despairing and the desperate. Odyssey Networks' "Faith at the Gulf" series of exclusive, on-the-ground video reports profiles these men and women and the communities they serve.

The first in this series of five video reports focuses on the historic Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, MS, and its executive director, Rev. Shari Prestemon. Founded by the United Church of Christ in 1922 as a social justice ministry to serve the local shrimping families, the mission played a significant role in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Now Biloxi and its shrimpers face a new threat to their livelihoods and way of life -- oil pollution in the waters of the Gulf.

Rev. Prestemon shares Back Bay Mission's commitment to meeting this unprecedented economic and spiritual crisis. "Nothing is as it was," she told Odyssey, "This is hitting directly the people we serve. We're here to meet their needs but it takes a lot of strength, a lot of heart, a lot of faith. Faith is not a simple thing. It's a complex thing. But it sharpens and crystallizes when it's tested and we've had a lot of tests."