Birmingham congregation starts ‘needed ministry’ for weather safety


March 24, 2020

Kelley Bearden says she’s always been weather aware.

It’s not because she’s been through a tragedy herself. For some reason, she’s always just been sensitive to the threat of severe weather.

She’s also sensitive to the fact that not everyone has a way to know it’s coming.

So as Bearden and other members of Shades Crest Baptist Church, Birmingham, worked to help provide food to the needy through Sowing Seeds of Hope and another organization in Perry County, she had an idea she couldn’t shake.

“I thought, ‘There’s got to be a way to get them weather radios too,’” she said.

At first, she let the idea go — it seemed cost prohibitive. Weather radios run about $25 to $30 each.

But then meteorologist James Spann came to speak to a group at Shades Crest Baptist, and he mentioned that his weather staff was available to program radios for such a purpose.

Afterward Bearden talked to him, and with his advice on where to purchase the radios plus a large donation from a Sunday School class, she rounded up some radios, had the engineers at ABC 33/40 program them and then took them down to Perry County.

“In December, Sowing Seeds of Hope had an event with food distribution, and with the help of Judson College and some local churches, we were able to pass out the weather radios too,” Bearden said.

It was good timing — the following week, storms rolled through the area.

“There were warnings for Perry County,” Bearden said. “I was glad to know that more people now have radios.”

Spann said that gift by Shades Crest Baptist was a needed ministry.

‘Siren dependency’

“Most people die in tornadoes from the siren dependency, the idea that you will hear a siren before a tornado,” Spann said. “It happened in Nashville [recently].”

At least 24 people died March 3 when tornadoes swept through Tennessee.

“You should never, ever rely on a siren,” he said. “They can’t be heard in a house or building during a storm and sure won’t wake anyone up. They reach a limited number of people outdoors.”

Every home and business in Alabama needs a NOAA Weather Radio, Spann said. “They cost about $30, and for low income families that can be cost prohibitive. This is why the ministry by Shades Crest was so remarkable. They handed out the weather radios all programmed and ready to go.” (Grace Thornton)

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