State and national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organizations are raising funds and planning long-term recovery operations in response to the tornadoes that rampaged across the Midwest and South over the weekend, killing nearly 90 people, including at least 74 in Kentucky.
President Joe Biden declared a federal state of emergency for Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee after the storms that also spawned twisters Dec. 10-11 in Arkansas and Missouri.
“In coming days, there will be more clarity on how we can be most effective in our response, and it will almost certainly involve response teams and the collection of needed items,” CBF Kentucky said on its website.
That response, and whatever form it takes, will be shaped by the needs that are identified by government and nonprofit groups already working in the impact zones. “We are not the group that rushes on site, but a part of a second wave of volunteers and resources that helps the communities who are the most at-risk begin to put their life back together,” CBF Kentucky said.
CBF Domestic Disaster Response Coordinator Daynette Snead Perez said she has been gathering information from state groups, including CBF Kentucky and CBF Arkansas, in preparation for future operations in the wake of the tornadoes. She added that the Fellowship typically supports first-responder organizations and identifies disadvantaged areas for its long-term recovery efforts.
“At CBF, our disaster response model prepares communities for disaster, responds to requests for immediate needs and short-term assistance within the CBF network, engages in long-term engagement for underserved communities affected by disaster, and serves to strengthen communication, collaboration, and social connectedness within the communities we serve,” she explained.
Snead Perez noted that CBF is currently engaged in long-term recovery efforts for hurricanes and other disasters going back years, including sites in the Florida Panhandle, Houston, and multiple sites in Louisiana.
“As we continue to collect donations, we will focus our efforts on underserved communities because chronic inequities in society are exacerbated during disasters,” she added.
CBF North Carolina mirrored the Fellowship’s penchant for supporting partners engaged in immediate disaster relief.
“CBFNC ministry partner Baptists on Mission, who are early responders, are sending teams to Bowling Green, Ky.,” the state group said in a mass email.
Baptists on Mission is an auxiliary organization to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and accepts other Baptists and other Christians and non-Christian volunteers in its disaster relief work.
Baptist organizations also are offering their supporters financial and spiritual avenues to help victims in the states impacted by the twisters.
“News of this disaster has brought heartbreak to all of us, especially in this season of Advent,” said Emmett Dunn, executive secretary-treasurer of the global missions organization, Lott Carey. “As people of faith, we pray for those who lost loved ones, homes, properties and livelihoods,”
Lott Carey is collecting donations and will work with partners, including other national Baptist denominations, to get aid to those in need, Dunn said.
“Dozens of lives were lost, hundreds of persons have been displaced, and entire communities were devastated,” he said. “I appeal to churches, institutions, organizations and persons of goodwill to join Lott Carey in bringing relief, comfort and hope to those in need.”
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. also is in the process of communicating with state and regional leaders and partners in the affected areas and is supporting ongoing relief efforts while calling for financial contributions.
“The loss of life and extent of damage tied to these tornadoes has been especially devastating during this Advent season. May we hold those who are experiencing loss in our prayers. We have heard from American Baptists who are ready to offer support, and we encourage the use of traditional channels of support,” said Kadia Edwards, national coordinator of Volunteer Mobilization and Disaster Response Ministries for the denomination’s American Baptist Home Mission Societies.
“We are grieving with the communities that were struck by the tornadoes and for the families of those who died,” ABHMS Executive Director Jeffrey Haggray said. “We are praying for those healing from injuries and those reckoning with what is next, as they stand in the midst of the destruction and struggle to remain hopeful.”
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