Baptist and Reflector
JACKSON — Three Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have received two of the highest awards for service from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. The awards were voted on and approved by SBDR’s steering committee and announced during the National Roundtable in Albuquerque, N.M.
Tommy and Karen Wilson of First Baptist Church, Dresden, received the Joel Phillips Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The couple has been serving together in disaster relief since their retirement several years ago, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Jones said the Wilsons spent more than six months in Puerto Rico after a hurricane there a few years ago. “Since then, they have participated in almost every callout in Tennessee and beyond,” he noted.
Last year they were both very active in the Waverly Response with Tommy working on crews and Karen assisting in the office, Jones said.
“Little did they know that in a very brief time they would have to leave Waverly to serve their hometown that got hit hard by the December tornados.
Karen and Tommy along with the help they enlisted from their home church and other volunteers coordinated hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers that came in to assist their town,” Jones continued.
“Tommy and Karen both exemplify a Christ-like Spirit in their service. Each of them has a unique skill that compliments the other,” Jones said.
Bill Lowe of Trace Creek Baptist Church, New Johnsonville, was awarded the Bob Dixon Award for Excellence in Leadership in response to the Waverly flood.
Jones was headed back from Louisiana, where he had been for a funeral for the former state DR director who had died from COVID-19 when he heard there was heavy rain and flooding in Waverly. Jones called Lowe, who serves as the DR coordinator for JST Association.
“Bill was already in his vehicle trying to go around and assess the damage,” Jones recalled.
He noted Lowe and other volunteers were hampered in their efforts because of the scope of the flood and the fact that many roads were closed off.
“That did not deter Bill and his team members as they worked where they could that afternoon and by Sunday morning, they had set up operations in First Baptist Church, Waverly, to begin taking in requests for help,” he said.
Jones shared that Lowe and members of his team began serving in Waverly on the day the flooding occurred and have helped most every day since through both the response phase and now the recovery phase.
Jones noted that Lowe did take “a couple of weeks off” so that he could go to South America with a team from JST Association on another mission trip. “I am grateful for Bill’s leadership and the support he has had from so many of the team members.”
Jones presented the awards during a dinner held at Calvary Baptist Church to recognize the recipients.