Monday, September 16, 2019

Deacon Spotlight: Ernest Alvarez

Guest Blog: Robert Newman

Born and raised in San Antonio, Ernest Alvarez showed an early interest in music, singing in his middle and high school choirs. He studied electronics at San Antonio College, served a tour in the Army, and worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone from 1974 until his retirement in March 2009.

On June 17, 1976 Ernest committed his life Jesus Christ at Lakeview Baptist Church under the ministry of Pastor Johnny Hutchins and later joined First Mexican Fundamental Baptist Church, where met met Bertha. They were married in 1979.

His early ministry involved driving the church bus and teaching children's Sunday School. Later, he would lead worship at Pyron Avenue Baptist and Hot Wells Baptist Church. In 2008 he joined Baptist Temple where he was ordained a deacon and is currently attending Stephen Ministry Training. At BT Ernest has sung in the choir, played in the praise band and worked the sound board among other ministries.

Recently, Ernest was elected chairman of the board of directors of KBIB, a-Spanish-language Christian Radio Station in San Antonio. This reflects an entrepreneurial spirit that has led Ernest to start a graphic arts business and a Spanish language Christian book store.

Ernest believes that being a deacon fulfills his desire to help people in times of need and appreciates how Baptist Temple encourages and empowers people to serve. "I like the fact that there are so many opportunities to join in different ministries to serve the church and the community,” he said.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Reaching people on the margins

Ribbon cutting ceremony for the
San Antonio Clubhouse site on the BT Campus.
San Antonio Clubhouse is the newest member of the Baptist Temple Campus family of churches and service organizations that meet the spiritual and physical needs of our community. SA Clubhouse is a self-help program where adults with mental health conditions can volunteer, learn, and grow. The Baptist Temple site is a satellite of the main campus and will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Founded in 2003, The SA Clubhouse serves as a model of success for people living with mental illness by promoting life skills, job skills, employment, wellness, recreation, connections to resources and healthy meals. Executive Director Mark Stoeltje reports, “Ninety one percent of clubhouse members reported a reduced need for psychiatric intervention and 84 percent reported fewer run-ins with law enforcement.”

Baptist Temple's efforts at serving people with special needs began in 2009 when a Texas Baptist representative called Pastor Jorge Zayasbazan and asked if they would host a Deaf congregation. Pastor Zayasbazan enthusiastically answered, “Yes! It's an answer to our prayers.”

The result of that call has been FamilyDeaf Church worshiping in American Sign Language on the Baptist Temple Campus for ten years. They not only serve the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community but, also, their hearing family members. Family Deaf Church is the only Baptist church in San Antonio that is centered around Deaf Culture.

John Richey, pastor of Family Deaf Church said, “The Deaf are a distinct culture with its own challenges. They have common needs that are best understood in their own context. That requires more than an interpreted service.”

Baptist Temple continues to find ways to provide services to people on the margins. They are now in the process of developing an inclusive playground so children with disabilities can play with their friends of typical abilities. Play is an important part of every child's development. It helps develop social, physical and problem solving skills. However, children with disabilities often lack places to play. This is especially true in the Southside of San Antonio; an area declared to be a very low opportunity area for children (according to DiversityDataKids.org.)

Inclusive playgrounds allow children of different ability levels to play together. They can inspire mutual understanding, friendships, and a real sense of community. Children who learn to play with children of all ability levels will be better prepared for a diverse work environment. This will be the first inclusive playground on the Southside open to the community.

Baptist Temple has already raised 80% of their funding goal through a combination of donations, fund-raisers and grants from the Baptist Health Foundation and the Charity Ball Association. They seek to raise another $24,000 this Fall. Donations can be made online at www.mybtsa.org or mailed to Baptist Temple, 901 E. Drexel, San Antonio, TX 78210.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Servant Spotlight: Cleta Foster

Guest blog by Melissa Baxter

A child of non-church going parents, Cleta Foster began walking to church at about ten years old, where she enjoyed GA’s and Vacation Bible School.

While in college, Cleta was part of the the Baptist Student Union. She committed her life to Jesus Christ during a Freddy Gage revival at 22 and was baptized at Lamar Baptist Church in Wichita Falls.

Cleta moved to San Antonio in 1961 with her husband, Marvin. Baptist Temple was the first (and last) church theyt visited. Cleta attended Blu Kingston’s Sunday School as well as Sunday evening discipleship classes, then known as Training Union. In her younger years, she played on Baptist Temple’s 1973 championship women's softball team.

For over 30 years Cleta was a public school teacher. She taught one year in Oklahoma, fifteen years in the San Antonio Independent School District and fifteen years in the East Central Independent School District.

Through the years, Cleta has served on many Baptist Temple committees, including two pastor search committees, personnel and social/hospitality. She was the first woman to be elected trustee. She taught children's Sunday school for many years. Currently she lends a hand where needed and still serves on committees.

Cleta is a widow with two grown children, Krisie (married to Bennet) and Kevin (married to Christy), five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

1973 softball champions, Cleta Foster front row, center.