Fla. Baptists to brave Ida winds & rain

PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP)--When Hurricane Ida was downgraded to Tropical Storm Ida on Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center's announcement left residents of coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida a bit less wary.

Also among the relieved: attendees of the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting in Pensacola, slated for Monday evening and Tuesday. The convention's pastors' conference was being held Monday morning and afternoon.

The storm is expected to make landfall Tuesday morning somewhere between Grand Isle, La., and Florida's Aucilla River southeast of Tallahassee, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of noon Monday, the storm was packing 70-mph winds.

Florida Baptist Convention officials decided Monday morning that the annual meeting will proceed as planned at Pensacola's Olive Baptist Church, the Florida Baptist Witness newsjournal reported on its www.gofbw.com website around noon Monday.

Barbara Denman, director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention, told the Witness that convention officers had decided to proceed "full steam ahead," with no change in the scheduled agenda. Denman noted that most participants in the Nov. 9-10 annual meeting already were in Pensacola. Those who have not arrived may watch the annual meeting livestreamed at www.flbaptist.org.

The Louisiana Baptist Convention's annual meeting also is scheduled for Nov. 9-10, but it is being held in Shreveport in the northern part of the state. The Alabama Baptist Convention's annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17-18 in Huntsville. The Mississippi Baptist Convention's annual meeting was held Oct. 27-28 in Jackson.

In advance of Hurricane Ida, Bruce Poss, disaster relief coordinator for the North American Mission Board, said he has contacted the American Red Cross and state disaster relief coordinators in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, and they were all in a "wait and see" mode.

At the Florida convention coincidentally -- as part of a pre-convention Crossover evangelistic outreach -- a Florida feeding unit was on site and could be deployed if necessary.

Though Ida may have weakened, Poss said the storm has the possibility of becoming "a flooding event" wherever it makes landfall. According to the National Weather Service, the main threats of Ida will be heavy rainfall, strong winds and storm surge along the Gulf Coast.


Compiled by Baptist Press staff.