Historians brush up on Texas Baptist Men
By Charles Richardson
LUBBOCK–The Texas Baptist Historical Society presented two church history writing awards and elected officers during its Nov. 10 meeting at Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock.
Pam Benson of First Baptist Church of Sabinal received an award for a church history of a congregation with 500 or fewer members for her book, “To God be the Glory: 100 Years, FBC Sabinal.”
J.A. Reynolds of First Baptist Church of Belton received the award for congregations of 1,000 or more for his book, “The Sesquicentennial History of First Baptist Church.”
|J.A. Reynolds and Pam Benson|
Officers named by acclamation were Carol Holcomb of Belton, president; Van Christian of Comanche, vice president; and Alan Lefever of Dallas, secretary-treasurer.
Society members heard Ken Camp, news director for the Baptist General Convention of Texas and co-author of a 30-year history of Texas Baptist Men, provide historical highlights of Texas Baptist disaster relief since the mid-1960s.
“Texas Baptists' disaster relief mobile unit has become a familiar and comforting sight over the past three decades,” Camp said. “Volunteers staffing the massive 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig have set up its self-contained field kitchen on hurricane-lashed Gulf shorelines and at the perimeter of neighborhoods devastated by tornadoes.”
After Hurricane Beulah's devastation in the lower Rio Grande Valley in 1967, Bob Dixon, state director of the Texas Baptist Royal Ambassadors at the time, was dispatched to South Texas as part of “an overarching BGCT response,” to help people whose lives has been disrupted by disaster, Camp reported. The disaster relief ministry grew from there, and Dixon went on to become executive director of Texas Baptist Men.
By the 1990s, Texas Baptist disaster relief had become worldwide in scope, reaching beyond the Americas to include ministry in the Middle East, several African nations, Eastern Europe and even North Korea, Camp explained.
In February 1992, Texas Baptists directed their attention toward Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, he said. “Texas Baptists personally delivered 170,000 pounds of food and sent a medical team to help inoculate a half-million Russian children.”
In more recent days, Texas Baptists have offered emergency relief for famine victims in North Korea, worked with refugees from Kosovo living in Albania and ministered to survivors of tornadoes in the Oklahoma City area, an earthquake in Turkey and wildfires in Mexico.
They offered relief after Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston in June 2001, when tornadoes hit South Central Texas in the spring of 2002, and when floods damaged 13 Texas counties and fires swept Arizona in the summer of 2002.
Currently, the statewide disaster relief fleet has grown to 37 vehicles “with more to come,” Camp said. These include regional units owned by churches and associations, as well as those owned by Texas Baptist Men.
“For more than 40 years, the BGCT has ministered to hurting people in times of disaster, and for more than 35 years, TBM volunteers have been the front-line troops leading in that response. For now, it appears that partnership seems as secure as anything can be in the current political climate.”
He noted that for three years, Texas Baptist Men has “continued to wrestle with the issue” of how to maintain its relationship with the BGCT while recognizing that many of its volunteers came from churches now aligned with the breakaway Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Last February, the Texas Baptist Men board affirmed its “unique affiliation and partnership” with the BGCT but also pledged to “officially work” with the SBTC.
“Time will tell how this relationship will work. Long-term, I have my doubts. But for the immediate future, it appears to secure the role of Texas Baptist Men as the first responders in times of natural disaster,” Camp said.
“For now, TBM volunteers represent both BGCT-related and SBTC-related churches to hurting people who know little about the source of the ministry they offer. They understand only that these dedicated men are seeking to follow the example of Jesus by meeting needs where they find them and pointing people to God.”