ATLANTA (ABP) — Five years after organizing a national disaster-relief ministry after Hurricane Katrina, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has been accepted as a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
Charles Ray, disaster-response coordinator for the Atlanta-based CBF, said joining the coalition of non-profit responders formed to coordinate relief efforts after Hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast in August of 1969 would bring credibility to the Fellowship's growing disaster-relief presence.
Before 2005, Ray said, CBF churches responded to disasters at the state and regional level. Ray was working as disaster-relief coordinator in Arkansas, until Katrina hit that August, creating a need for a coordinated response at the national level.
From there the CBF built a track record of response to disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and floods across the country. That includes a new partnership with the Baptist General Convention of Texas for ongoing response to the January earthquake in Haiti.
As a member of National VOAD, the CBF will work alongside national organizations including the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Church World Services, Operation Blessing, Samaritan's Purse and Save The Children. Other national members include American Baptist Men and the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Ray said each of the 51 member organizations brings something strong to the table.
"CBF's strengths are the generosity of its people, its ability to raise money quickly; the lack of bureaucracy and its staying power," he said. "We'll come in up to a month after the event and we'll stay as long as it takes. We like to say, 'We'll turn the lights out.'"
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.