Puerto Rico Baptists ready for ‘great movement of God’

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Puerto Rico Baptists learned about church revitalization efforts, were encouraged in their cooperation, and heard from several SBC leaders at their annual meeting Feb. 10.

“The unity and transformation of lives through the gospel will be an important emphasis in our continued work,” said Luís Soto, director of the Convención de Iglesias Bautistas del Sur de Puerto Rico (Convention of Southern Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico). “I firmly believe that in Puerto Rico there is a great movement of God through our churches and our convention.”

Soto, who is also the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Sin Paredes in Guayama, Puerto Rico, emphasized the great opportunity that pastors will have to receive revitalization. “We eagerly anticipate the launch of our new revitalization process and are confident that these tools will be a great help to our churches,” he said.

Growing spiritually and numerically

As part of this revitalization, Nathan Lorick, executive director of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention (SBTC), brought greetings via video from the 2,749 SBTC churches that are praying for Puerto Rico. The two conventions are ministry partners.

Lorick also extended an invitation to “Pillars of a Healthy Church,” a conference scheduled for March 23 at the Iglesia Bautista Sin Paredes, in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

“At this conference we want to help you identify and overcome the barriers that prevent churches from growing,” Lorick said, adding that SBC President Bart Barber will attend the conference. The SBTC and Puerto Rico partnership is under the supervision of Colin Rayburn, mobilization and missions associate for the SBTC.

“We have loved being your ministry partners for the past year,” Lorick said. “We look forward for the coming years of fellowship and partnership.”

The meeting was held at the Send Puerto Rico and Iglesia Bautista Ciudad de Dios. Xavier Torrado, director of Send Network Puerto Rico, leads a church planting residency.

There are currently 56 Southern Baptist churches on the island trying to reach a population of more than 3.4 million people. Puerto Rico has 78 municipalities, and roughly 40 of those do not yet have a Southern Baptist church. In the capital city, San Juan, there is a great need for more churches to serve its population.

Bruno Molina (left) of the SBTC and Luis Soto, director of the director of the Convention of Southern Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Hearing from leaders

Attendees also received video greetings from Barber, who thanked the leadership of Puerto Rico for their faithfulness and love for Christ; North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell; and International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood.

Bruno Molina, language and interfaith evangelism associate at the SBTC and director of the National Hispanic Baptist Network, addressed the meeting.

“I want to encourage you as Hispanic pastors and leaders to connect in mission, share resources, celebrate what God is doing among Hispanics and collaborate together,” Molina said.

Brad Russell, pastor of Old Powhatan Baptist Church in the city of Powhatan, Va., brought a message from 1 Corinthians 15:58. Russell’s church has collaborated with Send Relief for more than five years. He encouraged pastors to “stand firm and unmovable,” united in ministry, as people bought by the blood of Christ, focused on the Bible, and not to crumble under the pressure of being a pastor.

“God knows the results and our work is not in vain,” Russell said. “None of us deserve the ministry we have; it is an act of God’s grace. God does not depend on us because no one can do what God has done on this island.”

Convention President Camilo Méndez said 2023 was “a period of significant progress for the Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico.”

“We are excited by the opportunities that this new year presents to us,” he said. “We are confident that, with the continued support of our members and collaborators, we will be able to achieve new goals and continue to serve our local churches well and effectively.”

Conducting business

Representatives and leaders of convention presented annual reports, and Soto pointed out one of the last year’s most notable achievements—the completion of the convention’s first two modules of biblical counseling training, which included more than 250 people representing 35 churches and 39 pastors.

Attendees also approved a budget of $143,000, $20,000 of which will go to SBC Cooperative Program causes. Both of those numbers are increased from last year.

Jonathan Santiago, director of Send Relief Puerto Rico, thanked pastors and leaders for their help with Send Relief, specifically a new adoption office in San Juan.

“We thank all the churches and ministries that have been part of this cause,” he said. “As an integral part of the Adopting Ministry, we continue committed to the service of caring for orphans.”

He added that more than 2,500 volunteers served with Send Relief in Puerto Rico in the past year.

Soto thanked pastors’ wives, saying: “Their dedication and service in the ministry are invaluable, and we are grateful for their commitment and sacrifice.”

The women’s ministry of the Puerto Rico convention is under the direction of Kirzy Colón under the umbrella of the local Woman’s Missionary Union. Kirzy presented the annual report for the WMU (Union Femenil Misionera). “There is no doubt that God is at work in the Southern Baptist churches in Puerto Rico,” she said.


Clara Molina
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