Chainsaw units, chaplains activated as Baptists respond to Joplin tornado - Word&Way

Chainsaw units, chaplains activated as Baptists respond to Joplin tornado

JEFFERSON CITY — As disaster relief volunteers prepare to assist in Joplin in the aftermath of Sunday's devastating tornado, other Baptists in Missouri can assist through donations, particularly of funds for supplies.

The tornado, which touched down at 5:30 p.m. May 22, cut a six-mile-long swath through the city, packing winds of up to 198 mph and killing at least 117 people. St. John's Regional Medical Center took a direct hit, forcing the facility to move its patients to other area hospitals.

MBC-affiliated Harmony Heights Baptist Church was hit during a worship service, killing three people. Empire Baptist Church also was hard hit.

Missouri Baptist Convention disaster relief assessment volunteers were sent to the scene on Monday, with on-the-ground leaders setting up a command center at the Baptist Student Center at Missouri Southern State University.

Chaplains were called up on Tuesday morning, Rick Seaton, Missouri Baptist Convention specialist for men's ministry and disaster relief, said. A chainsaw unit also had been activated, with five or six additional units, including one from Bartlesville, Okla., due to arrive on Wednesday.

He added that the MBC plans to designate places around the state at which churches could drop off contributions for Joplin relief. Information is supposed to appear on the MBC website, but had not been added as of Tuesday afternoon.

However, the convention is accepting monetary donations online at

Reid Doster of Louisiana, a Katrina veteran, is serving as disaster response coordinator in Joplin for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri. He will assist teams that want to help with cleanup efforts.

CBFMO encourages its partners to contact a trusted local relief agency to funnel donations to the affected area. Donate money by sending it directly to CBFMO at 5 E. Kansas St., Ste. 200, Liberty, MO 64068, with "Joplin tornado" in the memo line. People also may give online through the national CBF website at Click "give" and then "donate." Under "gift information," use the drop-down menu and click on "tornado relief."

Gary Snowden leads disaster relief efforts for Churchnet (the Baptist General Convention of Missouri). A couple of chainsaw units are on standby to work through local churches in Joplin. Individuals and congregations can donate funds to the effort by mail to P.O. Box 508, Jefferson City, Mo., 65102-0508, or on the website at