Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from the original post.
Compiled by B&R staff
On March 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reached out to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leadership to discuss engaging Southern Baptist volunteers in response efforts on a nationwide scale.
“This is an opportunity for Southern Baptists to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to be the Church,” said Sam Porter, national director for SBDR with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Send Relief (SR).
“Local state emergency management agencies will reach out to our national SBDR staff, and we will connect those agencies to the appropriate contacts in their state,” he said.
Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, delivered some water to a COVID-19 testing site on March 18 but they have yet to have other requests for help.
Jones noted that Steve Holt of the TBMB staff will serve as the CDC contact in Tennessee.
SBDR has been asked by the CDC to be ready to mobilize to help people in affected communities with food and supplies if they are isolated or quarantined, Holt noted.
“Tennessee has accepted that role and TBMB has been in contact with all of our associations to be ready to help take care of the people who have been most affected by this outbreak,” he related.
“Many of our churches and associations have already mobilized to feed children and senior adults. Others are delivering groceries and supplies to seniors to limit their potential for exposure to the virus,” Holt related.
“We believe our network of churches is uniquely organized to efficiently serve all the communities in Tennessee. While we pray the need will not grow any more than it is currently, we know that Tennessee Baptists will rise to meet any challenge with the help of our Lord.”
As of March 24, associations and churches had assisted across the state in preparation and distribution of food to people who are quarantined for the virus, Jones said.
Water also has been delivered to COVID-19 testing sites and some volunteers have helped feed children not in school, he added.
Jones also noted that DR shower and trailer units may be requested in some communities that are working with homeless populations.
The latest list of churches/associations providing assistance and their locations are: Nashville Baptist Association, Davidson County; Beech River Baptist Association, Decatur and Henderson Counties; Haywood Baptist Association, Haywood County; Clinton Baptist Association, Anderson County; Nolachucky Baptist Association, Hamblen County; Knox County Baptist Association, Knox County; First Baptist Church, Collierville, Shelby County; Watauga Baptist Association, Carter and Johnson Counties; Cumberland Baptist Association, Montgomery County; Salem Association, DeKalb County; and Chilhowee Baptist Association, Blount County, and West Jackson Baptist Church, Madison County.
Jones expects the list to grow substantially in the days ahead.
“I think the opportunity that TBDR and TBC churches have to minister during this pandemic can open up great doors of ministry and also opportunities to share the gospel and to build relationships within their local communities,” he said.
— This article includes reporting by B&R editor Lonnie Wilkey and Brandon Elrod of the North American Mission Board for Baptist Press.