LOUISVILLE — New Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Director Ron Crow met with volunteers in-person for the first time during a training session Saturday at Highview Baptist Church and they came away impressed.

Karen Smith, a 26-year veteran of Disaster Relief and a member of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Waynesburg, saw traits in him that tell her he will be a tremendous leader. “Just watching him, whoever came up to him, he was talking to them like he’d known them forever,” she said. “He’s very personable. In his job, you have to talk to people all over the country and the world.”

Crow resigned from the church he was pastoring in Missouri last Sunday. He will start as the Disaster Relief director with the Kentucky Baptist Convention on Feb. 1.

He has worked in Missouri Disaster Relief since 2003 when the town where he was pastor was struck by a tornado. It has been a passion ever since. Crow was the associate state director in Missouri.

Smith said Crow has the unenviable job of replacing Coy Webb, the beloved Kentucky Disaster Relief director who resigned to take a similar post with Send Relief and the North American Mission Board in Atlanta.

“Those are hard shoes to follow,” she said. “It’s like following a favorite coach or pastor that’s been there 23 years. But he’s going to be great. He’s very humble and has a sense of humor, both pluses as a leader in Disaster Relief. He’s a leader over all of us. You have a church now that encompasses the whole state, Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois.”

Charles Castle and his wife Donna, members of First Baptist Church in Paintsville, have been involved with Disaster Relief since the Katrina flooding in 2005. He came away impressed with Crow as well.

“I think he’s going to do well, I really do,” he said. “He told me that he can see about a two-year learning curve here. He seems to be laidback, calm, and calculating. He’s got some big shoes to fill. We love Coy to death but it’s not Coy anymore.”

Castle said it was important not to compare to Webb as Crow finds his footing in the new job.

“We sometimes tend to do that with previous pastors too,” Castle said. “There’s a difference in how Missouri does things and we do things.”

Crow told the volunteers that he planned to heavily evaluate before making any changes and, if something was working well, don’t expect a change.

“He said, ‘I’m not saying there aren’t things we’re going to change but we aren’t going to change things right away,’’’ Smith said. “I think that is a very wise leader.”

Crow, 53, and his wife Lisa are lifelong residents of Missouri. They are moving away from their daughters and grandchildren to take the job in Kentucky.

“Ron does have a servant’s heart,” Castle said. “No doubt he has counseled other people (as pastor). We cut trees or do mud-outs, or whatever we do, so we can get the right to speak to these people. That’s what it’s about. He has a lot of personal experience in that.”

Castle did offer one bit of advice for Crow: Listen to Amanda McGary, the ministry assistant for Kentucky Disaster Relief.

“Amanda, for the last few months and the whole time Coy was going away, she has pretty much been Disaster Relief and I’m not taking away from Eric (Allen),” he said. “Amanda is a machine. She keeps it going. She is extremely efficient and organized. He will do well if he stays close with her and her workload is not going to slow down either.”