FBC Pelham opens its doors, arms to Hispanic congregationcomment (0)
January 5, 2012
By Lindsey Robinson
A few months ago, Pastor Jorge Camacho was leading Jesús El Buen Pastor Iglesia Bautista (Jesus the Good Shepherd Baptist Church) in a strip mall in Hoover. The church was facing a rent increase and an uncertain future.
But thanks to a few devoted members of Jesús El Buen Pastor and First Baptist Church, Pelham, the congregation of about 60 now has a place to worship rent-free.
Every Friday night and Sunday morning, the choir room of First, Pelham, is alive with Spanish music. Children from the two churches attend Sunday School together. And though the language spoken by each church’s adult members is different, their devotion to Christ is the same.
“This church opened its doors, opened its arms to us,” Camacho said.
Cary Hanks Jr., the Central Alabama Baptist Hispanic Ministry Coalition catalytic missionary and a member of First, Pelham, facilitated discussions in late June about Jesús El Buen Pastor’s relocation.
“All said and done, they started meeting at [First, Pelham] on the first Sunday in November,” Hanks said.
For First, Pelham, Pastor Mike Shaw, offering the space rent-free was a no-brainer and an opportunity to expand his church’s witness.
“We were glad to let them use our building. We thought we could take the burden off them,” he said.
The move was convenient for Jesús El Buen Pastor, but it was also a strategic logistical relocation, said Osvaldo Padilla, an assistant professor of New Testament divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham who is a member of and regular preacher at the church.
“The partnership is more of a ‘missional’ partnership. [First, Pelham] wants to have an impact on the Hispanic community in that area, and, of course, we want that, too,” he said.
By moving to Pelham — where there is a high concentration of Hispanic residents — Jesús El Buen Pastor, along with First, Pelham, has a golden opportunity to reach a new community.
“I’m glad to see the witness expanding to Hispanics in Pelham,” Shaw said.
“It’s a blessing really,” Camacho said of the move to First, Pelham. “We really give thanks for this church, this pastor and this congregation.”
And for him, it is a blessing that couldn’t have come at a better time. The rent on his church’s location in Hoover was going up to $2,000, and he lost sleep over how he would cover the cost.
“We knew we couldn’t go on anymore,” Camacho said. “I think God came in on time, exactly when we needed Him.”
Since the move, church member Joyce McKay has noticed a lighter spirit at Jesús El Buen Pastor.
“I sense more enthusiasm. I sense a feeling of being supported here,” she said.