With the theme “Living on Mission,” the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention of Puerto Rico (CIBSPR) met Feb. 6, at Iglesia Bautista Sin Paredes in the southern part of the island.
Despite the atypical year that was full of instability due to the earthquakes in Puerto Rico and the ongoing pandemic, 120 messengers representing 45 of 51 churches were present. Including guests, more than 150 people attended.
The meeting began with a time of worship and continued with greetings from J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee; Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board (IMB). The SBC entity leaders reminded the churches of Puerto Rico that they are part of a larger family.
CIBSPR President David Colón thanked the churches for their support during 2020 despite all the difficulties the year brought.
“Although many things certainly did not happen as we planned, God did not cease to amaze us by giving us the wisdom so that, as a convention, we could face those challenges and continue to support each of the pastors and their churches,” Colón said.
Félix Cabrera, executive director of the CIBSPR, also shared a message in which he recognized that only God’s grace helped them to overcome the earthquakes and pandemic of 2020, as well as the remnants of hurricanes and political instability from previous years that still affect the island.
“With all certainty we can say that the Lord has been faithful and we are confident that no matter what happens in 2021, He will be directing our steps and our convention,” Cabrera said.
After the messages, messengers heard reports from several ministries, including Women’s Missionary Union (WMU), Baptist Student Union (UBE) and the ministry of chaplaincy.
Cabrera also highlighted an increase in contributions to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions, the latter surpassing the goal by almost $10,000.
Unanimously, the messengers approved the goals, budget and calendar for 2021. They also accepted seven new churches (four affiliations and three new church plants).
The director of Send Relief compassion ministry in Puerto Rico, Jonathan Santiago, reported that in alliance with the CIBSPR, the agency mobilized 52 churches to serve their communities in 2020. After the earthquakes at the beginning of the year, 6,000 people were served meals for three weeks. During the pandemic, more than 4,000 bags and 16,000 pounds of non-perishable food were delivered in conjunction with the island’s education department.
“We continue to directly help those in need. We are grateful that we can do it in partnership with you, the pastors and the local churches,” Santiago said.
An historic moment
To start off 2021, CIBSPR presented the first nine missionaries who will serve with the IMB and NAMB, through the Go2 and GenSend program.
In order to continue promoting the goal of making Christ known in every corner of the world, the CIBSPR signed an agreement with IMB that will allow Southern Baptists in Puerto Rico to mobilize to the nations.
The convention was represented by Cabrera and the IMB by Oscar Tortolero, the entity’s Hispanic mobilizer.
“The agreement between IMB and CIBSPR will allow us to mobilize more Hispanics to reach the unreached with the gospel of Christ in the here and now, so that a great multitude of nations are praising God and the Lamb in the future and forever,” Tortolero said.
Cabrera was very enthusiastic about the plans for 2021.
“We are ready to work harder and more passionately in this new year to mobilize every member of our churches to come out of the pews to live on mission for the glory of God,” he said.
For more details about this and other events on the Churches of the Southern Baptist Convention of Puerto Rico, visit cibspuertorico.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Wendy Marín Ortiz is the wife of Pastor Oscar Ortiz. A native of Puerto Rico, she holds a master’s degree in the arts of christian education from Southwestern Baptist Seminary.)