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SBC DIGEST: Former SWBTS professor Phil Briggs dies; Massive storms 10 years ago set precedent in Alabama

Former SWBTS youth ministry professor Phil Briggs dies at 88

By Katie Coleman/SWBTS

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – Phil Briggs, distinguished professor of student ministry and youth education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1971 to 2004, died April 18. He was 88.

“Dr. Briggs was a Southwesterner with few equals,” SWBTS President Adam W. Greenway said. “As a four-time graduate and long-tenured faculty member for more than three decades, his longtime association with Southwestern Seminary will continue for many more years as the lives he impacted in turn impact others, with eternal consequences for the sake of the Gospel, especially among young people. I urge all Southwesterners to join with me in praying for God’s comfort to the Briggs family during this time of grief.”

Briggs was born on Feb. 26, 1933, in Ponca City, Okla. He earned a bachelor of arts in religious education and Bible from Hardin-Simmons University and is a four-time graduate of Southwestern Seminary (master of religious education, 1957; doctor of religious education, 1964; doctor of education, 1971; doctor of philosophy, 1994). He also completed additional studies in management at the University of Texas and in accounting for non-profit organizations at the University of Texas at Arlington.

While a student at Southwestern, Briggs taught as a teaching fellow from 1958 to 1962. He later served on faculty at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1965 to 1971 before returning to Southwestern to join the faculty, serving for 33 years until his 2004 retirement. He had also served as a guest professor of New Testament at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

In addition to his roles in academia, Briggs served in numerous ministerial roles in Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Missouri.

During his 33 years on faculty at Southwestern Seminary, Briggs taught and led widely in the areas of youth and collegiate ministries and education. He was also the inaugural occupant of the Edgar F. “Preacher” Hallock Chair of Student Ministries, which was endowed in 1997.

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‘Staggering’ number of volunteers 10 years ago set precedent

By Carrie Brown McWhorter and Grace Thornton/The Alabama Baptist

NORTHWEST ALABAMA (BP) – Mel Johnson says he can still see the scars from April 27, 2011, on the landscape when he drives up I-22. Those will be there for years. So will the tough memories and lingering grief many have from that day.

But one thing Johnson says those deadly storms didn’t touch is “the mission of reaching our world.”

He saw that mission advance a lot in the aftermath of that historic tornado outbreak.

Within 72 hours, volunteers from Alabama and 11 other states had rallied to help with disaster relief efforts across the state. That included all kinds of help from chainsaw and cleanup to child care and chaplaincy.

Johnson estimates there were more than 11,000 volunteers “with boots on the ground – that’s a staggering number,” said Johnson, who served as disaster relief strategist for Alabama Baptists in 2011.

Those volunteers poured into the lives of people who were picking up the pieces across the 42 counties declared federal disaster areas.

Chainsaw crews completed nearly 1,500 jobs, and feeding crews served more than 256,000 meals. Disaster relief units also provided more than 5,000 showers and washed more than 1,700 loads of laundry in the month following the tornadoes.

Chaplains walked door to door and visited schools to talk with hurting people in the community. They did trauma intervention, helping people cope with the loss and trauma of the tornadoes and offering encouragement and grief mitigation. Almost 6,000 clients were served, and 53 professions of faith were reported.

Baptist churches of all sizes also became shelters and collection sites for necessary items to help people affected by the storms. Fellowship halls and lobbies looked like supply warehouses as donations poured in, and volunteers organized items and delivered them to individuals and areas in need.

Churches also started feeding ministries in areas where there wasn’t a disaster relief feeding team, offering meals to storm victims, disaster relief volunteers and first responders. Some of these ministries continued into the summer.

Baptist associations across the state settled in for long-term ministry. Birmingham Metro Baptist Association rallied leaders from churches and organizations in their area to form a program called Restoring Hope that could link churches with people in need. The churches of Calhoun Baptist Association also came together and pulled off major community relief efforts in their hard-hit area. They repaired and even rebuilt a number of houses.

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