CHATTANOOGA — Six longtime Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer couples were honored with the Eagle Award during the opening night of Summit Nov. 12 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
The Eagle Award has been given annually to an outstanding Baptist layman in Tennessee since 2016. Retired Carson-Newman University football coach Ken Sparks (now deceased) was the first recipient.
“This year we wanted to honor all of our wonderful disaster relief volunteers by recognizing six couples from across our state who are well known among the Tennessee Baptist DR family as great servant leaders,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“Each of the recipients epitomize what the Eagle Award is all about: honoring faithful grassroots Tennessee Baptists who have significantly use their lives to advance Great Commission work in Tennessee and around the globe,” Davis added.
This year’s recipients are:
Dan and Nonnie Owen, First Baptist Church, Morristown: Don Owen also is DR director for Nolachucky Baptist Association. “God has used Don’s leadership to expand the ministry form disaster relief to seven ministries that operate under the DR banner out of God’s Warehouse in Morristown all over the nation and the world,” said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the TBMB.
John and Kay Thomas, First Baptist Church, Sevierville: The couple serves as DR directors for the Sevier County Association of Baptists. “Ready” describes John and Kaye Thomas, Jones said. “Whether it was the fires in Gatlinburg, flooding in Waverly or hurricanes in Florida, they are ready to go and serve as long as necessary,” he observed.
Murray and Marjorie Johnson, First Baptist Church, Hendersonville: “Committed” is the word best used to describe the Johnsons, Jones said. He noted that Murray is a mass feeding instructor and both teach and serve in regional training events. Since 2006, they also serve each week in the DR office doing administrative tasks in our credentialing process,” he added.
Chuck and Gerri Thacker, First Baptist Church, Gallatin: “Ready to roll describes Chuck and Gerri in part because Chuck came out of a trucking background, but also because he is ready to roll to go and serve,” Jones said. Thacker leads teams and has served as an incident commander and both have assisted with regional trainings, he added.
Butch and Faye Porch, Woodland Baptist Church, Brownsville: Butch Porch is the DR director for Haywood Baptist Association. Jones noted that Porch’s motto is, “We work until the last person is taken care of.” Jones added that Porch’s team includes men and women from all across West Tennessee to meet needs after a disaster. In addition, he continued, Porch and his volunteers usually complete 30 or more wheelchair ramps a year for those in need in the counties in the region.
Tommy and Karen Wilson, First Baptist Church, Dresden: The couple serves as DR directors for Weakley County Baptist Association. “Ready to go and get to work describes Tommy and Karen,” Jones said. Whether is spending about six months in Puerto Rico after a hurricane, running operations in Covington or Memphis or rebuilding in Guam, they are involved, he said.
“These six couples are representative of all the DR volunteers around that state that give of their time, energy and resources to bring help, hope and healing to their neighbors down the street, across the state, nation and around the world,” Jones said. B&R