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Jerry Pierce, Southern Baptist Texan

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Welch: SBC relief different because it’s given in Jesus’ name

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Praying together
SBC President Bobby Welch, right, and Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman, center, pray with Doug Stringer, founder and president of Somebody Cares America, a Houston-based ministry that teamed with First Baptist Church of Kirbyville, Texas to help meet needs of Hurricane Rita victims. Photo by Jerry Pierce
PORT ARTHUR, Texas (BP)--“Lord, bless every piece of bread, every bowl of beans, every sandwich, every bottle of water given in the name of Jesus,” Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch prayed as he huddled with SBC Disaster Relief volunteers.
      The theme was familiar among the Baptist “yellow shirt” volunteers who’ve been around Welch since hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast states: Baptists giving out bottled water, sandwiches and beanie weenies are giving what Welch calls "holy gifts" because they are given in Jesus’ name.
      Welch joined Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman and three members of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention staff in touring Hurricane Rita-ravaged Southeast Texas Sept. 30.

Texas leaders discover widespread damage from Rita

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Rita's destruction
When Hurricane Rita hit along the Gulf Coast Sept. 24, it left a trail of destruction, including a badly damaged steeple at First Baptist Church in Silsbee, Texas.Photo courtesy of the Southern Baptist Texan.
JASPER, Texas (BP)--Fifty miles north of Beaumont, Texas, members of First Baptist Church of Kirbyville were busy passing out water and ice to fellow townspeople who were all in the same predicament: No electricity and no water.
      “We’re living ‘old school,’” said Robert Fuller, a member of FBC. The church building did not suffer serious damage, he said, but winds knocked out power and damaged homes around the town.
      “I’ve got a big pine that should have hit our house,” he added.
      Fuller said he was using his generator, although he said he was expecting to be without power for possibly a month.
      The towns of Jasper, Kirbyville, and Silsbee, in deep Southeast Texas, were hard hit by Hurricane Rita’s winds Sept. 24. Early attempts to reach churches in the area were mostly unsuccessful since phone lines were down and some roads were blocked.