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Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Flexes 1,000-Volunteer Muscle

Over 1,000 relief Southern Baptist workers were dispatched in the few days following Hurricane Ivan’s rampage across the gulf shore states.
( [email protected] ) Sep 20, 2004 08:15 PM EDT

By Sept 20, only a few days after Hurricane Ivan rumbled across the Gulf Shore states, some 1,000 Southern Baptist relief workers from across 15 state Baptist conventions stationed themselves to provide assistance to the victims of the storm.

"We're doing feeding sites where people are standing in line for blocks to come by and get our food," said Jim Burton, director of the North American Mission Board’s volunteer mobilization team. "Even though we have had logistical challenges, it has probably enhanced our ability to minister directly to victims because they've had to come to our feeding sites for the food, and many of them are at our churches which helps raise the visibility of those churches in those communities."

Alabama is only one of the nearly dozen states that have been receiving the support of Southern Baptists; according to the denomination, it is the third largest hurricane relief group in the nation.

Flexing its muscle power as the largest denomination in the U.S. with 16 million adherents, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Disaster Relief sector prepared and distributed more than 20,000 meals for Ivan’s recovery alone; More than 1 million meals were prepared at the wake of Hurricanes Charley and Frances. In total, the SBC boasts some 28,000 trained volunteers on call for local, state and national emergencies.

The following is the latest information about where Southern Baptist disaster relief units have been activated, as compiled by the SBC’s newsletter Baptist Press:

-- The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma has activated a mobile kitchen unit, generator, shower unit and chainsaw/recovery team for service at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.

-- The Arkansas Baptist State Convention has activated a mobile kitchen unit and two chainsaw/recovery teams for service at Myrtle Grove Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla.; and a mobile kitchen unit, two chainsaw/recovery teams, and a shower unit for service at First Baptist Church, Andalusia, Ala.

-- The Missouri Baptist Convention has activated a mobile kitchen unit, two recovery/chainsaw teams and a shower unit for service at First Baptist Church, DeFuniak Springs in DeFuniak, Fla.

-- The Louisiana Baptist Convention has activated a mobile kitchen unit and two chainsaw recovery teams for service at Little Escambia Baptist Church in Flomaton, Ala., and a mobile kitchen unit for service in-state at the Bell Chase Auditorium near the St. Lucie Parish in Louisiana.

-- The Tarrant County Texas Baptist Association has activated a mobile kitchen unit for service at Moffett Road Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala. Texas mobile kitchens have also been assigned to the Salvation Army headquarters in Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla.

-- The Alabama Baptist State Convention has activated: a mobile kitchen unit for service at five Birmingham-area shelters; five chainsaw/recovery teams and a communication unit for service at Little Escambia Baptist Church in Flomaton, Ala.; and a mobile kitchen unit, shower unit, chainsaw/recovery unit, and communication unit for use at First Baptist Church in Robertsdale, Ala.

-- The Kentucky Baptist Convention has activated a mobile kitchen unit, communication team and chainsaw/recovery team for service at First Baptist Church in Bay Minette, Ala., and a mobile kitchen unit for service at First Baptist Church in Brewton, Ala.

-- The Tennessee Baptist Convention has activated a mobile kitchen unit, shower unit, communication team and two chainsaw/recovery teams for service at Atmore Baptist Church in Atmore, Ala.; and a mobile kitchen unit and shower unit for service at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pace, Fla., northeast of Pensacola, Fla.

-- The Georgia Baptist Convention has activated two mobile kitchen units, a shower unit, chainsaw/recovery team and communication unit for service at Gulf Breeze Elementary School in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

-- The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio has activated a mobile kitchen unit for service in Niceville, Fla.

-- The Illinois Baptist State Association has activated a mobile kitchen unit and two chainsaw/recovery units for service at the Gulf Shores Recreation Center in Gulf Shores, Ala.

-- The Virginia Baptist Mission Board has activated a mobile kitchen unit and shower unit for Edgewood Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheeling, W.Va.

-- The Mississippi Baptist Convention Board has activated a team of 15 volunteers for service at the Salvation Army kitchen at Orange Beach, Ala.

-- The Florida Baptist Convention continues to have mobile kitchen units and recovery teams serving in-state in the southwest, the panhandle and along the east coast -- all areas hard-hit by one of three hurricanes to hit the state since mid-August -- Charley, Frances or Ivan.

To give to the SBC’s hurricane relief effort, visit online at www.namb.net/disasterrelief, or mail checks to the North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 11653, Atlanta, Ga.,30368-6543.