By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md.—Blue Ridge Baptist Association (BRBA) Director of Missions Bruce Conley is now additionally serving with the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network in the area of disaster relief (DR). Conley is a natural for the position. He’s a retired Prince George’s County municipal police chief, a current reserve deputy sheriff in Berkley County, and he’s been a law enforcement chaplain for 30 years. He’s also a veteran disaster relief worker.
“I’ve been involved in our convention’s disaster relief efforts for 25 years as a volunteer,” Conley said. When he came to the BRBA nine years ago, the association already had a mud-out trailer. Conley, a ham radio operator since his teens, found many others in the area who shared his interest. They created a DR communications unit and partnered with the Network to fund the project and train others.
Conley emphasized that the spiritual element of DR is always the primary focus. People are vulnerable, afraid, sometimes devastated. Disaster relief is an opportunity to love our neighbors, he said, and in the process of lending a critical helping hand, volunteers are showing Christ’s love in action.
“That’s why I love it. Everybody, whether you’re giving a bowl of soup, or cleaning up flood damage, has a chance to share Christ while meeting a need,” he said.
Ellen Udovich, a Network strategist, who has served in the area of ministry evangelism and disaster relief for many years, said she will continue her evangelism role and also serve in the ‘DR family,’ but will work more on the ‘church side’ of DR, helping churches to be prepared for disasters and walking with them in the days, weeks and months following a disaster. She will also connect with the North American Mission Board’s SEND Relief Initiative.
“Bruce brings a wealth of professional skills and ministry experience to his new role and will be ably assisted by the amazing volunteers who make up our disaster relief leadership team. I look forward to seeing what God will do in and through disaster relief in the years ahead,” Udovich said.