A tree fell across the home of retired pastor James McKneely in Monticello during one of the storms that have wreaked havoc across Mississippi since early June.
He reached out to Mission:Dignity, a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention that assists elderly ministers, workers and their widows during financial emergencies.
“When we heard of the need of the McKneelys, a simple contact to Dr. Shawn Parker [executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board] is all it took to meet it,” noted Mission:Dignity director Aaron Meraz.
“Mission:Dignity is grateful for our partnership with Mississippi Baptists,” Meraz continued. “Cooperation is at the core of who we are as Southern Baptists and that is what was highlighted in meeting this need.
“We are always stronger when we work together, and our sweet soldiers of the cross like the McKneelys are the beneficiaries.”
Mission:Dignity gives more than $11 million annually to help retirement-age Southern Baptists whose income may be insufficient to meet basic needs. Many beneficiaries served small, rural churches that paid only modest salaries and couldn’t afford to contribute toward retirement for their faithful servants.
Mississippi Baptist Convention Board Disaster Relief also got involved.
“Men showed up from the Disaster Relief group and worked all day long,” McKneely reported. “They were able to get the tree removed and the roof tarped. It was such a relief to us.”
Caring for neighbors
Hubert Yates, Mississippi Baptists’ director of Disaster Relief, noted, “As it was a single request, we contacted our teams in the area to provide assistance.
“Our report shows eight volunteers, 32 volunteer hours, trees removed and tarping,” Yates said. “This is the type of response that many of our teams did during the recent series of storms.
“Damage was scattered and often affected just individual homeowners in an area,” he added. “I’m thankful for the MBDR teams who are available to work not just the ‘big’ events but faithfully care for their neighbor in the events that only affect a single homeowner and don’t receive the publicity.”
Danny Ivy, team lead for disaster relief for Lincoln County Baptist Association, and Anthony Sanders with the Simpson County Baptist Association disaster relief team coordinated with John Henry, MBDR consultant for construction and disaster relief training, to quickly mobilize for the McKneelys.
Much of the funding for Mission:Dignity comes from direct gifts of individuals, groups and churches that are members of the Southern Baptist family. Recipients can purchase food, pay utility bills, receive prescriptions and medical care, and provide for other necessities.