SBTC DR volunteers prepare to serve
March 23rd, 2020 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
In response to COVID-19, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers are preparing to serve with the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief network to meet the needs of populations affected by coronavirus shut downs, quarantines and medical facility overload.
Food distribution, especially for vulnerable people, may become a priority as quarantines are expanded.
Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, informed DR task force members of measures under consideration at a meeting conducted March 19 via Zoom.
Stice said that Texas Division of Emergency Management was coordinating closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working on multiple scenarios should the virus escalate and health facilities become overwhelmed.
“We pray that God gives us wisdom for how to respond,” Stice said, admitting that traditional mass feeding protocols would have to be adjusted because most volunteers are in high-risk age groups.
Stice referenced the Mar. 18 Baptist Press article which reported that the CDC contacted Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leadership on Mar. 12 to discuss engaging volunteers to assist in response efforts nationally. (See http://www.bpnews.net/54484/southern-baptists-organize-to-help-amid-covid19-crisis.)
"This is an opportunity for Southern Baptists to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to be the church," said Sam Porter, national SBDR director, adding that as needs arise, “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.”
Stice asked all task force members to contact churches in their areas to see if the congregations would be able to provide volunteers for food preparation, distribution and medication delivery, which will all be conducted in compliance with state and CDC guidelines, including safe distancing.
The task force discussed options for deploying SBTC DR’s mass feeding kitchen units, including the fact that food distribution during Hurricane Harvey had included drive-through deliveries.
Stice also stated the need to encourage younger volunteers to undergo online disaster relief training, especially now that schools and colleges are closed and they may have time to do so.
The introductory SBTC DR course is available free of charge to individuals age 18 and above who are members of a Southern Baptist church. Visit https://sbtexas.com/disaster-relief/#training and click on the “training” link to access the course.
Worried? Phone an SBTC Chaplain
Meanwhile, to care for spiritual concerns in these uncertain times, trained SBTC DR chaplains are available to speak with the public via a toll-free hotline: 1-800-921-3287 that will be operational from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday throughout the crisis, with voicemail capability after hours.