Iglesia Bautista Bet-el (Bet-el Baptist Church) in Lumberton has been honored for leading all other Hispanic Baptist churches in North Carolina in contributions through the Cooperative Program during 2015.
BR photo by Steve Cooke
Pastor Cipriano Morena and his wife, Petra, pose with the award honoring the Cooperative Program giving of their church, Iglesia Bautista Bet-el in Lumberton, N.C. At right is Guillermo Soriano, Hispanic consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Soriano presented the award during the annual Hispanic conference held in conjunction with the convention’s annual meeting at Koury Center.
Bet-el Pastor Cipriano Moreno and his wife, Petra, accepted the award during the annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina on Nov. 14 at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The presentation came during the annual Hispanic conference.
The Cooperative Program (CP) is the unified budget which allows churches of all sizes to support both the state convention’s many missions and ministry programs, plus the Southern Baptist Convention’s missionaries serving around the world and across North America, and the six Southern Baptist seminaries, including Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
Messengers at the convention’s Annual Meeting approved a CP budget for 2017 totaling $30.375 million, and 40.5 percent of the budget will go to the ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention, an increase of .5 percent over the 2016 percentage.
The presentation was the first time a Hispanic church has been so honored and indicates the growing numbers of Hispanic Baptist churches that are partnering with the BSC.
North Carolina Baptists have ramped up outreach and support for Hispanic Baptist churches greatly in recent years as the number of Hispanics in the state has climbed to an estimated total of about 1 million. Hispanics are by far the largest of immigrant peoples now living in North Carolina.
More than 120 Hispanic Baptist churches are now affiliated with the convention, and the number increases each year. Already several Hispanic pastors have served on the convention’s Board of Directors.
The state convention now provides conferences for Hispanics, including a conference at Caswell over Labor Day weekend that draws more than 400 Hispanic young people each year.
Since January 2012, nearly 2,000 Hispanics have accepted Christ as Savior and been baptized in the state as newly-started Hispanic churches made nearly 30,000 evangelistic contacts to share the gospel, according to Mark Gray, leader of the convention’s Church Planting Team.
This year the convention is financially supporting the planting of 10 new Hispanic churches. William Ortega, Hispanic church planting consultant on the Church Planting Team, leads that ministry. He is also working with more than 50 new Hispanic churches across the state to provide training, materials, coaching and other convention resources.
The Nov. 14 Hispanic conference filled one of the Koury center’s larger meeting rooms and was another indication of the growing Hispanic partnership, as were several of the convention’s Spanish-speaking consultants now working with Hispanics.
Convention Hispanic consultants like Guillermo Soriano are meeting regularly with Hispanic pastors and lay leaders for leadership training and disciple making.
Fruitland Baptist Bible College, owned and operated by the state convention, offers classes in Spanish taught by native Spanish speakers and coordinated by Fruitland staffer Roberto Fernandez. Fruitland also offers several satellite centers which teach classes in Spanish.