The Golden Shirt Era: California Disaster Relief Celebrates Their Best and Gold(est)!

The Golden Shirt Era: California Disaster Relief Celebrates Their Best and Gold(est)!

Fresno, CA – The California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief ministry is abuzz, and CSBDR Director Kendrick Neal is making strides to ensure the “golden shirts” are known near and far! On February 23rd, the ministry held its annual Celebration Luncheon to honor the extraordinary DR volunteers at Woodward Park Baptist Church in Fresno.

The morning began with worship led by members from the Woodward Park Baptist Church worship team, followed by a message from Clovis Hills Senior Pastor Shawn Beaty. Beaty addressed the group as the “Motley Crew of ministry,” referencing the type of work they voluntarily commit to despite the circumstances they are surrounded with, and closed his devotion with these words, “You’re never more like Jesus than when you serve people.”

Director Neal reported the following stats achieved for the 2023 year:

18 deployments30 teams deployed132 volunteers utilized
8,620 service hours1,545 ministry contacts made9,491 meals served

The following are the individual awards and the honorees recognized:

The Golden State Award – in recognition of outstanding service that displays the mission and embodies the spirit of CSBDR.

Deana Price and Dawn Fulkerson

The Hallmark Award – in recognition of significant contributions to CSBDR while exhibiting an attitude of servanthood.

Ken Clark and Jenice Moore

The John Paget Legacy Award – in recognition of one’s spirit in servanthood that inspires others and maintains a standard of professional leadership for CSBDR ministry.

Jerry Shirley

DR award winners 2024

Dr. Naomi Paget sent a video recording to express her gratitude to Pastor Jerry Shirley as the legacy award is named after her late husband. “Your deployment history reads like the history of California Disaster Relief! You have served all over the United States and even in foreign countries!” She referenced a specific deployment where Pastor Shirley helped a father recover the burned military metal pieces that represented the life of his son. “You went above and beyond the call of duty to support that man as a Christian, as a chaplain, and even as a veteran. Thank you,” said Paget.

In accepting the award, Pastor Shirley responded, “Seeing all of you people here that I have served with has been so special. We are the voice of Christ! I thank you for carrying on. You have been the most wonderful people I have spent ‘a week or so’ with. Thank you!”

Director Neal closed the program by making the collective aware of the behind-the-scenes happenings with the Disaster Relief Ministry. He highlighted former CSBDR Director Mike Bivins’ continued involvement, serving from a national board representing California Disaster Relief, as well as CSBDR being the subject of state briefings being discussed in Governor Gavin Newsom’s office. He posed the question to the group, “How are we going to grow our influence? There are people watching you simply because you have a gold shirt on. Be encouraged! He rallied.

He continued, “Even with these national and state connections, there are still people in our own churches who don’t know about Disaster Relief. We need to spread the word. We need to have conversations and invite people to join us! Director Neal then recollected how he suggested to former CSBC President Victor Chayasirisobhon to wear the “golden shirt” while he addressed the convention at the 2023 CSBC Annual Meeting. “I don’t want us to be the ‘Southern Baptist best kept secret. I want people to know who we are, what we do, and be introduced to Jesus!”

A new endeavor CSBDR is working towards is a college internship program that is being modeled after the Missouri Disaster Relief office Neal presented. “I’m excited to build more gold shirts through this opportunity we are working towards. Someday, we will all be in heaven, and there will be so many more people in heaven because a gold shirt helped them and told them about Jesus!”

Click here for more information about the upcoming DR trainings [March 8-9, April 19-20]

About the Author

Lisa Kooiman
Ministry Assistant, CSBC

Lisa Kooiman serves as the executive assistant in the Office of Communications for the California Southern Baptist Convention. She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno. Lisa and her husband, Ruben, are enjoying the season of parenthood with their preschool daughter, Everly. They attend the Old Town Campus of Clovis Hills Community Church, the very church (under different leadership and name) where Lisa made a profession of faith and was baptized as a young girl.

More About Lisa Kooiman
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