ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Fritz M. Wilson, disaster relief and recovery team strategist for the Florida Baptist Convention since 2006, has been named executive director of the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief team.
Wilson will be working with NAMB’s disaster relief team leader Mickey Caison through a time of transition. The announcement was made Thursday (June 7).
Wilson has already begun developing a strategy plan, but will officially begin his leadership of disaster relief at NAMB in October of this year to enable him to continue leading Florida disaster relief until the end of the current hurricane season. He eventually will relocate to Alpharetta, Ga., where NAMB is headquartered.
During the time of transition, Caison will continue to utilize his relationships and expertise in the disaster relief network with special concentration on new-work states.
“Fritz brings many years of great experience and relationships throughout the disaster response network that will allow him to build on the outstanding foundation Mickey Caison has established over the years,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “This ministry is so significant to Southern Baptists and so essential to the United States disaster response network, we want to handle this transition with great care.”
The transition period will allow Caison — who will remain DR team leader — to work with new-work states and help them strengthen their disaster relief strategy and volunteer base, Ezell said.
“While Mickey Caison’s years of dedicated service and experience — plus his national reputation and professional network in disaster relief — are difficult to match, Fritz Wilson will come to NAMB with his own unique set of skills and experience to begin the transition,” said Kevin Ezell, NAMB’s president.
Since 1996, Wilson has served in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility while directing the disaster relief ministries for the Florida convention in Jacksonville, Fla.
Wilson says one of the highlights of his Florida DR career followed the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Serving as the SBC DR incident commander in Haiti, Wilson developed and implemented the “Buckets of Hope” response, during which 158,000 buckets of food were collected from Southern Baptists across North America and distributed in Haiti. He also oversaw the “Rebuild Haiti” program, which built more than 1,000 new block homes for Haiti earthquake victims over a 19-month period.
Since 1999, Wilson has led Florida Baptists in more than 100 disaster responses. During the same period, the Florida convention’s roster of credentialed disaster relief volunteers grew from 800 to more than 9,000. In 2006, DR became a stand-alone, dedicated department in the Florida convention and in 2007, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief won the Governor’s Hurricane Conference Award for “most outstanding volunteer organization in the state.” Wilson also played a key role during the 9/11 response in New York, establishing the SBC DR/Salvation Army partnership and heading up the first kitchen operations at Ground Zero and Staten Island.
“I am humbled and honored to be asked by Dr. Ezell to fill this role at NAMB,” Wilson said. “I covet the prayers of all Southern Baptists as I seek to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with my brothers and sisters across the convention, ministering as the body of Christ to survivors, responders and anyone in need.”
The 50-year-old Wilson said he is also excited by the recent announcement that NAMB will shift disaster relief to the mission entity’s evangelism group, headed by vice president Larry Wynn.
“Disaster relief volunteers have always done evangelism — seeking opportunities to share their faith as they serve a meal, gut out a flooded home or provide a hot shower,” he said.
Wilson said he is also “humbled” to follow in the footsteps of 62-year-old Caison.
“It’s like how Elisha must have felt to follow Elijah. Mickey has been a friend and mentor to me for the past 16 years, especially during the 2004 hurricane season in Florida and during the Haiti earthquake response.
“God has used Mickey to lead Southern Baptists through exponential growth in disaster relief following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to today,” Wilson said. “Mickey is recognized and respected throughout the U.S. emergency management community, and has played a significant role in establishing NAMB’s national relationships and partnerships with government agencies and volunteer organizations like FEMA, The Red Cross and The Salvation Army. He will continue to be our liaison with those groups.”
A native of Jasper, Ala., Wilson earned a B.S. degree in health, physical education and recreation at Mobile College, and a master of divinity degree in religious education at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
Wilson and his wife, Deborah, are the parents of two sons, Benjamin, 18 and Elijah, 13.
From NAMB’s disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., Caison, Wilson and NAMB staff members will continue to coordinate and manage Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) responses to major disasters throughout North America via a partnership among NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which run their own state disaster relief programs with state convention-owned assets.
Total SBDR assets are comprised of 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained, credentialed disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including The Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).