NAPLES— Since Hurricane Ian crashed into Florida’s Gulf Coast on Sept. 28, bringing catastrophic winds, rain and an estimated 12-foot storm surge to cities in its direct path, southwest Florida pastors, their wives and local churches have served their communities tirelessly.
On Thursday, April 13, the Florida Baptist Convention hosted a night of encouragement to help southwest Florida pastors and their wives find renewal and refreshment in life and ministry post-Hurricane Ian. Ministry couples from Marco Island to Sarasota attended a night of worship, encouragement and dinner at First Naples.
Representing the convention were Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer; Wayne Briant, southwest regional catalyst, and Paul Purvis, lead pastor at Mission Hill Church in Tampa and current president of the Florida Baptist Convention.
“It was a great evening of fellowship and encouragement,” said Briant.
Emanuel Roque, Florida Baptists’ Hispanic multicultural catalyst, said, “We [the convention] are grateful and appreciate each pastor and wife in who they are and all that they do, but especially in times of challenges like post-hurricane where you have given so much to the church and community in the midst of recovering yourselves.”
Two attendees were JR and Emely Pagan, an associate pastor and wife serving at East Naples Baptist Church Espanol. Due to the church’s partnership with the convention and other local churches, East Naples was able to come alongside its community in the hurricane’s aftermath.
“Our church was involved in helping the community,” said Pagan. “All of it was possible thanks to the collaboration of the Florida Baptist Convention and other Baptist churches from other regions that extended a helping hand.
“Thursday was a special night where there was encouragement and support for everyone. With their gesture of love, the convention confirmed that we walk together and that ‘Right Beside You’ it is not just a slogan, but a consistent action.”