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Key disaster relief worker Joel Phillips dies at 52

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Joel W. Phillips, one of Southern Baptist’s national disaster relief coordinators, died from an apparent heart attack at his home Sept. 29 after returning from attending Wednesday evening services at First Baptist Church in Conyers, Ga., where he was a member.

Phillips, 52, was the national offsite coordinator for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief with the North American Mission Board.

Before joining NAMB in 2000, Phillips served for 22 years on staff at four Southern Baptist churches in Georgia as a youth minister, associate pastor and senior pastor.

Mickey Caison, manager of NAMB’s Disaster Operations Center near Atlanta, said Phillips had been instrumental in helping coordinate Southern Baptist’s ongoing national disaster relief response in the wake of four hurricanes in the past six weeks.

Caison described Phillips as a leader with a servant’s heart who loved helping people. “Joel was a great trainer,” Caison said. “Baptist state conventions across the country loved for him to come and lead disaster relief training.”

Phillips has authored several Southern Baptist Disaster Relief training manuals and is credited with modernizing NAMB’s Disaster Operations center with state-of-the-art technology. Phillips also pioneered NAMB’s Web-based system designed to connect volunteers with mission projects around the country at www.thebridge.namb.net.

Caison said Phillips had the uncanny ability to strategically assess needs in a disaster response without being on site.

“Joel could see the need without being there,” Caison said. “He was a lifeline during our disaster response following Sept. 11, 2001.”

Phillips, a native of Raleigh, N.C., and veteran of the U.S. Navy, had earned degrees at the Baptist College of Charleston, S.C., and Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta.

Phillips is survived by his wife, Linda, and four adult children: Leah, Ruth, Andrew and Seth.

The Phillips family will be receiving guests Oct. 3 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Caldwell and Cowan Funeral Home, 3134 Floyd Street, Covington, Ga., 30014.

The funeral service has been scheduled for Oct. 4, at 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church, Conyers, Ga..

The Phillips family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to NAMB’s Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund online at www.namb.net/disasterrelief or mailed to North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, Ga., 30368-6543.

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  • Lee Weeks