ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–As meals prepared by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers surpassed a historic 6 million Oct. 5, more than 1,400 Southern Baptist churches have committed to the Adopt a Church initiative to assist churches damaged in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Since Katrina’s landfall in late August and Hurricane Rita’s in September, 6,000 disaster relief volunteers from 40 states have prepared 6,087,549 meals for residents and relief workers. Previously, the most meals prepared in a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief response was 2.5 million during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
So far, more than 1,300 of 1,431 churches registering online for Adopt a Church have been referred to state conventions in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which will in turn link the healthy churches with hundreds of churches needing assistance. Churches are still needed to commit to the initiative.
The Adopt a Church partnership was initiated by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) the week after Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of homes and business along the Gulf Coast, including hundreds of SBC churches.
Adopting churches from across the United States and Canada are being assigned to affected state Baptist conventions which will then match them with damaged and destroyed churches in their respective states. Adopting churches are asked to make a commitment of 12 to 24 months or however long it takes for the affected church to get back on its feet.
Churches desiring to offer assistance through Adopt a Church may register online at www.NAMB.net or call 800-462-8657. More information is available by e-mailing [email protected]
More than half of all mobile Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units have been involved in Katrina/Rita response, said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization at the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
“Southern Baptist Disaster Relief ministries continues to exceed all previous expectations,” he said. “There is no way that we can fully know today the extent of ministry that has taken place. Beyond people being fed physically and spiritually, I believe that God will bless the faithfulness of Southern Baptists in this response to further grow this ministry.”
Burton said disaster relief response is serving as a “rallying point” for Southern Baptists residing inside and outside affected regions.
“Is it possible that God will use this disaster as an awakening among Southern Baptists to re-discover our cooperative ministry roots while being proactive to meet real needs in our churches’ communities?” Burton asked. “I believe that God will use this to draw us together as a denomination united to share Christ with every American.”
As meal preparation slows in upcoming weeks, long-term cleanup and recovery efforts will grow and more volunteers will be needed, he said.
“The number of damaged homes and churches is overwhelming. Volunteers will be needed for years to assist in the long-term recovery efforts.”
Southern Baptist volunteers prepare most of the meals distributed by the American Red Cross and provide cleanup and recovery, communications, childcare and other vital disaster services. Southern Baptists are the third-largest disaster relief operation in the country behind the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, with more than 30,000 trained volunteers on call for local, state and national emergencies.
Contributions to offset direct costs of the disaster relief response may be sent to state conventions, associations or churches responding to the effort or to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund. Donations to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief may be made online, www.namb.net/disasterrelief, or by calling 1-888-571-5895. Alternately, contributions can be mailed to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, North American Mission Board, Box 116543, Atlanta, Ga., 30368-6543.