Baptist families to get post-tornado aid; funeral held for Jake Self

by Dana Williamson , posted Thursday, May 06, 1999 (20 years ago)

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)--Oklahoma Baptists’ disaster relief fund will be used to channel $500 gifts to Baptist families with emergency needs in the wake of May 3’s killer tornadoes, Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, has announced.

The disaster relief fund also will help with the cost of several Baptist disaster relief units preparing meals for tornado survivors and relief workers, Jordan said.

"Many wonderful pastors and laymen have called to ask how they can help those affected by the tornado disaster in the heart of Oklahoma," Jordan said, noting one of the greatest needs will involve Oklahoma Baptists’ disaster relief fund.

Also, Jordan said, "Many have called to offer help in the clean-up effort. The task is too big for us to try to coordinate. We suggest crews contact any of the churches [affected by the tornadoes] and work directly with them."

Donations for Oklahoma Baptist relief efforts can be sent to Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, 3800 N. May, Oklahoma City, OK 73112-6506.

Donations for Baptist relief needs in Kansas, meanwhile, in the wake of May 3 tornadoes there, can be sent to the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, Attn.: Disaster Relief, 5410 SW 7th St., Topeka, KS 66606.

Oklahoma Baptist churches with relief needs at the church site or among church families and their contacts are:

-- Sooner Baptist Church, Midwest City, building totaled, John Coker, pastor, (405) 677-1890.

-- Pink Baptist Church, Pottawatomie-Lincoln Baptist Association, auditorium totaled, Mark Pringle, contact person, (405) 598-3178.

-- Mulhall Baptist Church, building damaged, parsonage totaled, Troy Withey, pastor, (580) 649-2239.

-- Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Bridge Creek, totaled, Tom Duckett, pastor, (405) 392-3425.

-- Regency Park Baptist Church, Moore, totaled, Mike Hamilton, pastor, (405) 850-3806

-- First Baptist Church, Moore, roof and some structural damage, Alan Cox, pastor, (405) 793-2600.

-- First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, slight damage, Tom Elliff, pastor, (405) 732-1300.

-- First Baptist Church, Dover, part of roof gone, Scott Liner, pastor, (405) 828-4699.

-- Baptist Campus Ministries, Redlands Community College, El Reno, front collapsed, substantial structural damage, roof damaged, Jon Herring, BCM director, (405) 262-2447.

-- Baptist Campus Ministries at Rose State College, Midwest City, brick facing wiped off, ceiling tiles removed, Minnie Pack, BCM director, (405) 737-2992 or 736-0584.

As of May 6, Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief units were operating at both First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, and First Baptist Church, Moore, which also was being utilized as a staging center for various relief agencies.

Additionally, a feeding unit from Texas and one from Arkansas have been deployed to the Oklahoma City area, along with a shower unit operated by the North American Mission Board from Albany, Ga.

In Haysville, Kan., a town of 9,000 near Wichita, where three people were reported killed by tornadoes May 3, the Kansas-Nebraska Baptist feeding unit has set up operations at First Baptist Church. Also deployed to the scene are a Missouri Baptist feeding unit and a cleanup and recovery unit, along with a shower unit operated by Tennessee Baptists.

Jordan said much of the chaplaincy work in the Oklahoma City area to give counsel and encouragement to victims is being coordinated by Joe Williams, BGCO director of chaplaincy; Jack Poe, chaplain for the Oklahoma City Police Department; and Ted Wilson, chaplain for the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

As of May 6, the May 3 tornadoes claimed at least 38 in Oklahoma and five in Kansas, injuring nearly 700 others and destroying several thousand homes, including more than 2,000 in the Oklahoma City area. Tornadoes from the storm system in Tennessee in the early morning hours of May 6 also killed four people.

Among the earliest funerals for tornado fatalities was the May 6 service for Herbert “Jake” Self, 86, who had served on the staff at First Southern for 17 years, working under several pastors. Self was killed when one of the violent twisters sliced through his home. His wife, Galelia, survived the destruction.

“Can a minister ever really retire? Jake Self couldn't. The former associate minister at First Southern Baptist Church in Del City still attended the church he loved, still ministered to its members in his own way,” The Daily Oklahoman newspaper recounted May 6. “Self visited the sick, even though he wasn't in the best of health himself. And he and wife Galelia attended church as often as their health allowed.”

The newspaper added, “… those to whom he had ministered professionally and befriended after his retirement remembered him as a caring, sweet man.”

"Brother Jake was just a fine man, plain and simple," church member Billie Pollock told the newspaper. She and her husband knew Self in the church's earlier days, Pollock said, when he preached about heaven and love and ministering to others.

"His love for people showed in everything he did," Pollock told the Oklahoman. "He was there for everyone, and everyone knew that about him."

Self didn't always aspire to be a minister, the newspaper noted. He didn't decide to leave the oil and trucking industries until he was in his 40s to pursue a ministry degree at Oklahoma Baptist University.

That later-in-life decision set him apart from his peers, Pollock told the newspaper. “He had a deep love for the Lord; you could just sense that about him," she said. "Maybe it was his maturity."

In addition to his wife of 57 years, Self is survived by three children, David, Phil and Cheryl, and four grandsons.

Tom Elliff, First Southern’s pastor, conducted Self’s funeral.

Elliff and his wife, Jeannie, who lost their home to a fire in February, also were among the tornado victims, with the townhouse where they were living leveled. The Elliffs left the townhouse just a few minutes before the twister struck, seeking shelter at the church.

“We didn’t lose much,” Elliff told Baptist Press May 6, “because we didn’t have much,” after losing nearly all their possessions in the earlier fire.

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