Bet-el Church honored for Cooperative Program giving

by Mike Creswell, BSCNC
  • 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 Dr. Guillermo Soriano, Hispanic consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Thursday, December 15, 2016 | 161 days old

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.

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 Monday, Nov. 14, at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The presentation came during the annual Hispanic conference held during the Annual Meeting.

The Cooperative Program 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 Cooperative Program budget for 2017 totaling $30.375 million, and 40.5 percent of the budget will go to 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 Baptist State Convention.

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 1 million. Hispanics are by far the largest group 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. 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 annual Hispanic conference on Nov. 14 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, now offers classes in Spanish taught by native Spanish speakers and coordinated by Fruitland staffer Roberto Fernandez. Fruitland also offers several satellite centers that teach classes in Spanish.