Becky Luther is no stranger to serving the littlest attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting. She’s done it for the past seven years as the convention has met in other cities.
But this year she’ll be heading up those efforts as the SBC comes to Birmingham. It’s all part of her work as the coordinator of the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief (ABDR) temporary child care ministry. In partnership with the North American Mission Board, Luther has organized 120 volunteers from eight states to help take care of attendees’ preschoolers (infants through age 4). About a third of that workforce is from Alabama.
“It’s a big operation,” said Luther, a member of East Gadsden Baptist Church, where she serves as preschool director.
Not only is it big — it’s mostly self-contained. Not all of those volunteers will be directly providing child care; some will be keeping the ministry going in other ways. ABDR feeding teams will provide breakfast and dinner for volunteers at NorthPark Baptist Church, Trussville, which will house the whole preschool ministry workforce.
ABDR teams will also run a shower and laundry unit for volunteers’ personal use and to keep children’s craft smocks clean. Trained chaplains will be on hand and two nurses will provide a first aid station. The whole preschool area will have strict security to ensure children’s safety, Luther said, noting that their teams are accustomed to providing that kind of ministry at a high level.
“It came up about 10 years ago that disaster relief was equipped to handle this ministry at the SBC — we had all the equipment and our volunteers were trained and background checked,” she said. “It made sense for us to do it and we’ve had an agreement with the Executive Committee ever since.”
And it’s a blessing to be able to care for SBC messengers’ children, she said. Volunteers get to play games, do crafts and sing songs with them and see the “little lights” come on in their eyes.
Planning on bringing your preschooler to the SBC annual meeting? Register for child care at sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc19/childrenyouth. There’s also a day camp for older children and missions opportunities for youth available at the same link.