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NAMB announces ‘Compassion Fatigue’ seminars, loan extension

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board has launched a pair of initiatives to stimulate emotional and physical recovery for hurting ministers and damaged SBC churches along the Gulf Coast.

“Recovering Hope” will go beyond Southern Baptists’ traditional post-disaster response of feeding and cleanup and, instead, focus on a long-term approach to help pastors and their congregations snap back emotionally and spiritually from “compassion fatigue.”

“During the 38 years of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Baptists have carved out a deep niche ministering to the immediate physical needs of disaster victims and workers,” said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization at NAMB’s headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga.

“While we celebrate what God has done in the physical area of disaster relief, Recovering Hope will move Southern Baptists into a new realm of long-term recovery, addressing the emotional and spiritual health of Gulf Coast pastors, church staff, associational directors of missions and church members,” Burton said.

NAMB has contracted with chaplain Joe Williams to conduct a series of seminars on “Compassion Fatigue” from January to May in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. Williams is well-known for his work for NAMB in New York City following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and in Oklahoma City after the 1995 federal building bombing.

Williams was first sent to the Gulf Coast by NAMB in early October to help comfort pastors, church staff and chaplains.

“The mentality of the pastors is ‘I’m strong. I have to be strong for everyone else. I don’t need help,’” Williams said. “Pastors are hard to help because we think if we express weakness, it’s a sign of a lack of faith.”

Beyond the current hurricane response, Recovering Hope is a long-term effort that Southern Baptist churches eventually can implement routinely following any disaster.

On another hurricane-related front, NAMB has announced it is extending a $10 million program to provide low-interest loans -– up to $100,000 -– to Southern Baptist churches in the four Gulf States damaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The extended deadline for loan applications is March 31.

“We want to help churches get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” NAMB President Robert E. “Bob” Reccord said. “The loans -– which will require a minimum of paperwork –- are just one way we can help them do that.”

Disaster relief loans are available to affected SBC churches in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for repair of church facilities, replacement of equipment or materials, or to cover the expenses while a church is displaced, said Karl Dietz, director of NAMB’s church finance ministry team.

Dietz said the application process will be simple and can be made by contacting one of NAMB’s church finance consultants by the March 31 deadline.

“For amounts up to $10,000, the loan will be unsecured, without the need for normal financial records or for collateral to secure the loan,” Dietz said. “For amounts over this, the loan will be secured by any financed equipment and the church’s property.”

No fees will be assessed by NAMB and churches will be responsible for closing costs, which are expected to be minimal. No interest will be charged during the first year of the loan. In years two through five, the interest rate will be NAMB’s preferred rate minus 1 percent fixed.

To qualify for a NAMB disaster relief loan, a church must:

— own the damaged facility.

— be a cooperating Southern Baptist church as verified by the local association and/or state convention.

— have demonstrated a history of supporting the Cooperative Program and other Southern Baptist mission causes.

— be a valid legal corporation able to provide evidence concerning who is authorized to borrow money on the church’s behalf.

Churches interested in applying for the new loans or obtaining additional information may call 1-800-759-5901. More information also is available at www.churchfinanceministry.com.

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  • Mickey Noah