Monday, December 28, 2015

Baptist Temple Year in Review 2015

As another year comes to an end, it's time to reflect on Baptist Temple's ministry in 2015; a year filled with blessings and struggles. We recorded nine baptisms plus another four from Betel and three from Family Deaf Church; a total of 16. We also mourned the deaths of 14 members.

One notable worship event was our first Cowboy Sunday with “Cowboy” Charles Higgs preaching, a testimony from Mike "Shotgun" Franklin, and special music from Tom "Too Slim" Reynolds; a Rodeo-themed lunch followed. Holy Week featured a Palm Sunday drama, a midweek Seder, and an Easter musical presentation. On Mother's Day we honored the moms who, on this Sunday, brought the most children to church (Estelle Lindsey), brought the most family to church (Ruby Beaver), and made the most trips around the sun (Jean Williams). The Christmas season featured a Hanging of the Green service, a cantata (Bethlehem Morning) and a Christmas Eve service.

Our worship was enhanced by two music interns from the Baptist University of the America's. Won, from Korea, shared her skill with the violin and led the hand bell choir. Mateo, from Columbia, played electric guitar in the praise band.

The children and youth went on a variety of field trips; our senior adults enjoyed monthly luncheons; and our adult Sunday school classes enjoyed periodic parties. We had church-wide fellowships as well, including a Valentine's lunch, a Father's Day car show and lunch and a Thanksgiving dinner. The deacons' wives hosted a very special event to honor those in our fellowship who have been widowed.

Evangelism is one of Baptist Temple's historic strengths. All of our programs are established to bring people closer to Christ but some are closer to the point than others. Vacation Bible School is the high point of any Baptist church and it provided us an opportunity to recruit new workers and reach new people.

Our annual Fall festival brought over 500 people this year, thanks to Halloween falling on a Saturday. We are certainly thankful for the help we received from Highland Park Gifted and Talented Academy, Family Deaf Church and the band Resurrection Rising.

At Christmas, our youth blessed children whose parents are incarcerated. Church support was so overwhelming that we gave two gifts to every child. These gifts were given in the name of the incarcerated parent, at that parent's request. We had one child who had three requests for gifts; they were from both biological parents and a step-parent, each of whom is incarcerated.

Our free Wednesday night meals combine benevolence, fellowship and evangelism. The meal could be the only hot meal for some and, perhaps, the only opportunity to sit together as a family. The Wednesday night meal also revives a tradition of coming to church straight from work to enjoy dinner with your church family and attend a committee meeting or work at some ministry. One of those Wednesday night ministries is AWANA, a spiritual formation program for children. For adults, we have classes in a variety of life skills, prayer and Bible Study.

Deacons and staff agreed that spiritual formation was a top priority for Baptist Temple and began to pray and explore how we would draw our church closer to Jesus. As an answer to those prayers, God sent Don Nance, a friend of BT and member of Oak Hills Church, with a package of materials and an invitation to meet Randy Frazee. The result of that meeting was that BT joined more than a dozen San Antonio churches in simultaneously preaching a sermon series with accompanying Bible studies called BELIEVE. Fifty people enrolled in the program on its first day, reviving a Sunday night tradition that was once called Training Union and, later, Discipleship Training.

Highland Park Gifted and Talented (HPGTA) hired a new principal in 2015 which brought new energy to the BT campus. We worked together on maintaining the grounds, improving the playground, the fall fest, stocking the food pantry and getting a cross walk and school zone signal.

Visiting mission teams help extend ministry around San Antonio. Crosspoint Church Español wrote. “Thank you BTC for hosting us and loving on us with God's grace. We look forward to returning on our future mission trips. Thank you for praying for us before we left, your hearts and family of faith spirit was a refreshing blessing.”

Baptist Temple hosted the Immigration Services and Aid Center's Summer Training Institute. ISAAC is a Texas Baptist ministry to help immigrants obtain legal status. We also hosted the annual meetings of the Texas Baptist Conference of the Deaf and the Bi-vocational and Small Church Conference.

Our day care gets a new name reflecting a new ministry. The introduction of the A Beka curriculum and a partnership with Parent Child Inc. (PCI) have turned us into a premier provider of early childhood education and includes Early Head Start. Our enrollment has grown by 40% since 2009. The children celebrated rodeo, fiesta, Easter, Halloween, Vacation Bible School, and Christmas. Parents were treated to Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas Pageant.

The San Antonio Baptist Association Hunger Walk, Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and Baptist Mission Foundation combined to provide nearly$5000 to our hunger ministries. These contributions, along with food donations and thrift shop funds amounted to 50,000 pounds of food and related items.

Elizabeth Cruz joined us this Fall as Program Director for our community ministries. She has deep experience and extensive connections with the service community in San Antonio. As a result we have agreements with Our Lady of the Lake and UTSA to provide Social Work students to serve as mentors in our food pantry.

We provide more than material items. This Fall we were able to help a homeless woman obtain ID so she could get into a shelter and a homeless family of four navigate options until they found a place to live. Our local Wesley nurses, Nancy and Sandy, bring health screenings flu shots and classes on health-related topics.

It will 110 years this Spring since the first meeting of the group that would become Baptist Temple. There have been many changes since 1906. The car had not yet gone into mass production but one day I-10 would tear through our neighborhood. The rapid southward growth of the city would soon move northward at an even faster pace.

Because Baptist Temple has adapted to so many changes and challenges, I am confident of the future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” 
declares the Lord, 
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future.” 
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A More Livable City

San Antonio wants to be the kind of community that attracts residents and enables them to live healthy lives with a vibrant, sustainable downtown. This was the message of the Health and the Built Environment Conference of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District; a gathering of some of the nation's brightest minds and local movers and shakers. This year's theme was “Leveraging a More Livable SA.”

San Antonio was founded in 1718 under the The Laws of the Indies. Written in 1680, these plans detailed every facet of creating a Spanish colonial community including:
  • a healthy location that can be defended from attack
  • a source of food, fuel, fresh water
  • industry and access to commercial transportation
  • aesthetically pleasing architecture
  • a commons for recreation and feeding flocks
  • room to grow

As we approach San Antonio's 300th birthday, the above list is still vital for a sustainable urban community. Mayor Ivy Taylor's opening remarks set an upbeat tone for presentations on safety, health, new urbanism, sustainable living and walkable cities.

San Antonio boasts a vibrant downtown that is among the most affordable in America. The Riverwalk, The Pearl, and Rackspace are among the new stars of urban development. The recent designation of the missions as a World Heritage Site puts San Antonio in the world spotlight.

We do have problems: homelessness, food insecurity, blighted neighborhoods, etc. We also have a city filled with opportunities and talented leaders. Let's work together to create opportunities for the people at the margins of our great city.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Elizabeth Cruz Joins the Baptist Temple Team

We welcome Elizabeth Cruz as new Program Director. She will be coordinating our community ministry efforts through our Highland Park CAN ministry. She has already made arrangements for social work students from Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) and University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) to serve as interns at our food pantry. Working with Wesley Nurses, Nancy Parker and Sandy McKinney, she will arrange for healthy living classes on Wednesday evenings and health screenings on Tuesday mornings.

Elizabeth has a wealth of experience in the social services field. She has worked with the homeless, foster children, and food pantry clients. While at Christian Hope Resource Center (CHRC), she was instrumental in developing a case management program designed to help individuals become more self-sufficient. She, also, introduced the client-choice pantry to CHRC.

I met with Elizabeth three years ago to learn more about mentoring-based food pantry operations. She graciously offered to help us develop our program. I took her up on her offer a few months ago. She was ready for something new and was excited at the prospect of leading a program she had designed. Moreover, this would be an opportunity to use her skills in a church setting.

Elizabeth earned a BSW from Texas State University (TSU) and an MSW from UTSA. She, also received a Nonprofit Management Certificate for Veterans Service Organizations through the San Antonio Area Foundation.

She has worked for SAMMinistries, Casey Family Programs and, most recently, Seton Home.

Elizabeth has been leading Zumba classes twice a week at BT and is adjunct faculty at OLLU.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

A learning lab for multicultural ministry in an urban context

A student from St. Phillip's College contacted me recently. He is interested in studying Deaf culture for a class project. He is one of many who have come to Family Deaf Church over the past few years to learn more about American Sign Language and the Deaf.

The Baptist Temple campus has become a learning lab for multicultural ministry in an urban context. We currently host three Christian Social Ministries interns and one music intern from the Baptist University of the Americas. Last month we entered into a formal agreement with OLLU and UTSA to help train students in their MSW programs. Earlier this year we hosted conferences for Deaf ministry and small church/bivocational ministry, as well as, the Immigration Service and Aid Center's Summer Institute.

Hands-on experience in a real world environment enhances classroom learning. In the business, non-profit and government worlds internships have provided mutually beneficial vocational opportunities. The host organization receives free or very cheap labor and the intern receives resume enhancing training and experience.

My personal experience of serving a two year internship in a new church start was foundational to my ministerial career. It not only gave me confidence in my first paid ministry position but, perhaps most importantly, paved the way for that job and the next as well.

Beginning with that first ministry position I have committed myself to help ministry students to develop their call. My internship experience allowed me to practice ministry skills under the mentoring and protection of a pastor. On more than one occasion he stepped between an angry church member and myself; even though I was in the wrong. His point was that I was a novice and our church was to show me grace and prepare me for the mission field. It was not until I had to do the same for one of my own interns that I fully understood the risk he took in protecting me.

Beyond traditional ministry training, Baptist Temple has had the opportunity to work with AARP to provide job training in office and janitorial skills. Furthermore, we wish to provide training in early childhood education and cooking.

Being a learning lab for multicultural ministry in an urban context requires providing a network of experiences that are both mutually supportive and independent. Spiritual formation, life skills, emergency interventions, recreation, health improvement and more all offer opportunities to develop marketable leadership skills.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Bread of Life

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

One of our food pantry clients noticed a stack of booklets with Bible verses and asked if she could have one. A couple of other clients heard and, likewise, asked for a booklet. Then they asked if I would bless the booklets. It was a God moment that allowed me to pray over these ladies and listen to concerns about family members who needed to be touched by Jesus.

They are, also, part of the crowd that gathers on Wednesday nights for our free community dinner. The gathering of such a diverse group is a picture of the banquet God has prepared for us. The people who were part of the “in crowd” had better things to do than attend the banquet, so the master invited the poor and the disabled. He wanted his house to be full.

Wednesday nights are filled with people who are hungry for nourishment; hungry for fellowship; hungry for God. Last month we baptized a person we met through our hunger ministry. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” (John 6:35)

Muriel Persky lives the gospel as the hands and feet of Jesus. She works in our thrift store and teaches the Bible to women in a job readiness program (Christian Women's Job Corps). Last week, during her Bible study, one of the women declared that she wanted to be a follower of Jesus.

The gospel is good news! Whenever we serve people on the margins of society, we are serving Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to Avoid the Traps of Success Part 3: The Recognition Trap

Gideon's success was astounding. Moving from fearful farmer to mighty warrior, he brought an end to pagan worship in Israel and defeated the Midianite army but his story does not have a happy ending.

"No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. They also failed to show kindness to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) for all the good things he had done for them." (Judges 8:33-35)

Gideon fell into the recognition trap. He took the gold earrings and had an ephod (a ceremonial garment) made as a memorial for this high achievement in life. He did not want to be forgotten.

In Genesis we learn of a group who wanted to be remembered. They tried to build a monument but God confused their language and scattered them. God does not share His glory!

Gideon demonstration that he had more money than he needed by commissioning this ephod made from the spoils of war. Some will use acts of conspicuous consumption for recognition – expensive cars, homes, jewelry. Some people will go into debt to show pretend wealth.

He was a hometown hero and put the ephod on the altar he built to the LORD. There are no stories of Gideon beyond this point. He would settle into a life of comfort and bask in the memories of past victories.

The choices Gideon made following his victory deviated from God's path only a little bit but the deviation put Israel on a path that took them far from God and, 40 years later, they had forgotten Gideon and his family.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Avoid the Traps of Success Part 2: The Entitlement Trap

Our response to success can impact our future blessings. After refusing to be the king, Gideon decided he was entitled to a reward. He said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (Judges 8:24)

It was the least they could do to honor their hero. He had risked everything in his defeat of the enemy and was entitled.

It is not unusual for a person to benefit from their success – a parking spot near the door, a corner office, first class travel – one is entitled to such perks.

However, sometimes the perks that come with success can send the wrong message. The former head of a missions group refused to enter a limo that had been sent to pick him up at the airport. “The people who give sacrificially to support missions may get the wrong impression,” he said.

The head of another missions agency got into hot water over the price of his office furniture.

Gideon gave glory to God but this desire for a big payday was a step in the wrong direction.

John Delorean was the automotive genius responsible for the Firebird, the GTO and the Grand Prix. He capitalized on his fame and talent to start Delorean Motor Cars but went bankrupt. He thought he could apply his superior business skills to traffic drugs but wound up buying drugs from undercover cops. A sense of entitlement doesn't always land you in jail but it does cause people to believe that they are above the law; or at least believe that the rules don't apply to them.

David thought he was entitled to Bathsheba. Bill Clinton thought he was entitled to Monica Lewinski. The poor feel entitled to what the rich have and the rich feel entitled to the poor.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Avoid the Traps of Success Part 1: The Celebrity Trap

Gideon's success was astounding. He became the mighty warrior God called him to be. He brought an end to pagan worship and defeated the Midianite army, executed its evil leaders.

The Israelites said to Gideon, 'Rule over us -- you, your son and your grandson -- because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.’” (Judges 8:22)

The Israelites now wanted Gideon to be their king. He seemed the perfect choice. He had not only delivered them in a miraculous battle, but God spoke to him. A king would make them like the other nations.

Like the Israelites, we can be tempted to seek powerful people to lead us. If we had the right pastor or music leader, we could be like the mega-churches; If we elected the right politician we can put our nation back on track; If we could lead a celebrity to faith in Christ, the world would notice. We shine a spotlight on our Christian celebrities, put them on magazine covers, pay them lots of money, and then expect them to be humble. Why are we surprised when Christian celebrities fall?

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

Gideon avoided the celebrity trap. The Israelites saw Gideon as savior but Gideon saw the Lord as Savior and told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.” (Judges 8:23)

We don’t need great men. We need a great relationship with a great God. Jesus chose 12 without a single celebrity in the bunch. The result was that the gospel was received by 3000 in one day and spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. 

Part 3 - The Recognition Trap

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bus Ministry is Still an Effective Church Growth Tool

In the 1970's bus ministry was used by churches across the nation to reach children for Jesus. The largest Sunday school in America, FBC Hammond, Indiana, had a bus ministry that had 1,000 workers using 230 buses to bring as many as 10,000 people to church every Sunday.

Baptist Temple's bus ministry was launched with the purchase of a 1970 blue Chevrolet van to pick up Sunday school students from East Terrace and Victoria Courts. In 1971 a used Dodge school bus was added to the fleet followed by a used Chevrolet school bus in 1972. This soul-winning ministry resulted in a record 151 baptisms in 1972. The previous high mark was 121 in 1933. A record number of new members was also set in 1972.

The first drivers were Jimmy Walker, Ed Flynn, David Evans and Arland Ames. Walker drove for 35 years and participated in many aspects of the ministry including evangelistic visitation, phone calls, follow-up and training.

Steve Grinnell became part of the bus ministry in the 1980s. During those years two buses picked up student as far south as Military Dr., north to MLK, east to WW White and west to Roosevelt. Grinnell remembers a big operation involving phone calls and visitation.

Ernest Dominguez was one of the children who rode the van to Baptist Temple Sunday School. As he got older he strayed away from church but, when God began to speak to his heart, he returned to the place where he first heard the gospel. Dominguez was baptized on Easter Sunday 2013.

Bus ministry is still used as an evangelistic tool by many churches today. In 2001, FBC Hammond still had a fleet of over 200 buses in operation.

Outreach to children is a vital ministry for a soul-wining church. Most Christians become followers of Christ as children. Furthermore, the fastest way to reach families is by ministering to children.

Check out this resource: The Bus Ministry Manual

Then the master told his servant,
"Go out to the roads and country lanes
and compel them to come in,
so that my house will be full."
Luke 14:23 (NIV)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baptist Temple Recognizes Three Deacons Emeritus

Guest blog by Robert Newman 

In the last three years that I spent as deacon chairman of Baptist Temple Church, it has been my honor and privilege to serve with many wonderful men of God. Three of these men have been named Deacon Emeritus of Baptist Temple. This honor is bestowed on a deacon by the deacon body in recognition of long and distinguished service to our church.

Deacons already recognized as Deacon Emeritus include: Max Brunnemann, Jack Shelton, Melvin Williams, Leroy Klima, and Jerry Shelton. The deacon body of Baptist Temple Church is pleased to add three more names to this list: Weldon Frazelle, Carl Gerold, and James Walker.
Carl Gerold has been chairman of the Building and Landscape Action Team for many years. He is not the type to sit back and make plans, you will see him painting or repairing or doing anything that he feels needs to be done for the upkeep of our church. Many times, this is a thankless task, but he gets out there and does what he feels called to do.

Weldon Frazelle owned his own restaurant at one time, but still loved to volunteer his services as a cook to Baptist Temple when he was needed. In addition to cooking, Weldon loved to work outdoors. No matter how hot it was, you would see Weldon mowing the grass or working on the landscape of our church. None of this was done for recognition, it was done because Weldon felt that this was his call to service.

James Walker gave of his time in many areas. For many years he drove the van to pick up children who had no other way to come to church simply because he had a love for children. He was very talented, especially in woodworking, so it was not unusual for someone from VBS to call and ask him to make things for VBS. He made a beautiful wooden cross for the church, and an intricate calendar that is still in use by his Sunday School class. Jimmy also loved to sing in the choir. He was very faithful, and was up there singing whether he felt good or not.

Weldon and James were recognized posthumously.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dealing with Setbacks

The devil often counterattacks after a spiritual victory. God used Gideon and 300 men to defeat the Midianite's 135,000 but Gideon was going to face some setbacks.

Sometimes, friends, family and fellow believers will allow themselves to be used by the devil to discourage and bring division in the body of Christ. They gossip and complain as if your good fortune takes something away from them.

The Ephraimites criticized Gideon after his triumph. They complained that he did not include them in the spoils of victory. In the same way, some churches suffer from people with divisive attitudes. They want to have their own way and lose sight of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The devil’s best strategy is disunity and division.

Ephraim allowed jealousy to cloud their judgment. They were embittered and put their own interests above the greater good of God's people. Some folks can get so wrapped up in their own problems that they do not take time to consider Jesus' Great Commission and Great Commandment.

We will not always see things eye-to-eye. Disagreements occur from time to time and feelings are hurt. It happens in the best of families. Learn to put away your anger and jealousy. Replace them compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, even as God has done so with you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Never forget where the true battle is and the true enemy. Our battle is not with people, but with our own selfish human nature, with the world and with the devil. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world." (I John 2:15-16)

Our weapons are spiritual. Gossip and deceitful scheming will fail. God fights our battles. We need not fight and bicker in anger but submit to God's will.

Monday, February 09, 2015

When Less is More

Spiritual Warfare requires dependence on God and the use of spiritual weapons

The Midianites had been raiding Israel at harvest time for 7 years. God's chosen champion, Gideon, gathered an army of 32,000 but God only needed a few good men.

The first cut involved those who lacked courage, All who were afraid were allowed to go home. Only 10,000 stayed. After a second cut, only 300 remained.

God did not choose the best warriors for his dream team. They weren't going to fight. God needed few courageous men who would follow His instructions.

God would use spiritual weapons in this battle. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

The 300 soldiers were divided into 3 groups and surrounded the Midianite Camp. Each had a trumpet in one hand and a clay pitcher in the other. Inside each pitcher was a torch. An army usually had one trumpet and torch per 100 men.

While the enemy slept, Israel shouted, “The sword of the Lord and Gideon.” They blasted their trumpets, broke the pottery, and surrounded the camp with flaming torches. The enemy thought they were surrounded by 30,000 fighting men, panicked and fled.

Gideon did not suffer any losses. God has our back. Jesus said, “ In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

God Always Wins

Michael slays the dragon. Raphael

God uses our enemies to accomplish His will. In Judges we learn that God would use the nations around Israel to test them. Whenever Israel fell into sin, God allowed an enemy to chastise them. When they cried out to God, they were delivered by a champion. One of those champions, Samson, was self-centered and cavorted with the women of Israel's oppressors. Yet, God used him to accomplish His will, despite Samson's lack of cooperation.

The Jews' exile to Babylon was a sad event for Israel but it put Jewish houses of worship in places where the gospel would one day be preached. The Roman empire provided safe roads and a common language (Greek) to help spread the gospel. The expulsion of the Christians from Jerusalem increased the speed at which the gospel spread.

Not all things are good but the Bible assures us that “all things work together for good for those that love God.” (Romans 8:28)

In every church you will find destructive people who have an agenda driven by something other than the gospel. These are the weeds that Jesus said the enemy sows among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30), the goats that will one day be separated from the sheep (Matthew 25:31-46). In his book, “Well-Intentioned Dragons” Marshall Shelley writes:

Within the church, they are often sincere, well-meaning saints, but they leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don’t consider themselves difficult people. They don’t sit up nights thinking of ways to be nasty. Often they are pillars of the community – talented, strong personalities, deservingly respected – but for some reason, they undermine the ministry of the church. They are not naturally rebellious or pathological; they are loyal church members, convinced they’re serving God, but they wind up doing more harm than good.”

People wonder why bad things happen to good people and why good things happen to bad people. There is no answer to this except that God allows things to happen to accomplish his perfect will.

After Job had lost everything in a test of this faith, he declared:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Monday, February 02, 2015

Overcoming low self-esteem

Gideon overcame his weak self image to become a champion for God. He was the youngest son, of the poorest family, of the weakest tribe in Israel.. He was fearful. For seven years the Midianites would attack the Israelites and steal their crops. He suffered from low self-esteem but Gideon was valuable to God.

God called Gideon a mighty warrior but his faith was weak. He needs proof, so God patiently works to grow Gideon’s faith. God will encounter people in unbelief and lift them to a new level of service. A man told Jesus, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

John Wesley said, "Use what faith you have and God will give you more faith."

God is faithful to help you grow even when you feel like you have no faith at all. He grew Gideon’s faith by making him use the faith he already had.

Gideon would defeat Israel's enemies and bring 40 years of peace.

God has the big plan. He leads us along step by step. He knows us and our capabilities. He knows when we need reassurance and signs. Jesus didn’t call the disciples to turn the world upside down, change the Roman empire forever and die as martyrs, He simply said follow me and led them along step by step.

He starts us out in small ways that are close to home. I think we often fail to accomplish great things for God because we fail to be obedient in the small things.

You may think that you are a nobody but you are valuable to God . Jesus tells us, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? …

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? …

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:26-33)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Jose and Karla Morey

Jose and Karla Morey joined Baptist Temple last year. Jose is a native of Venezuela and a student in the Baptist University of the Americas' School of Business Leadership. Jose ministered to university students through Misión Ultima Frontera in Venezuela.

Karla is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where she earned the Master of Divinity. She was appointed by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention to minister to university students in Venezuela.

In San Antonio Jose and Karla serve as chaplains the Marketplace Chaplains, USA. They provide pastoral support to the employees of Surlean Foods, HEB Warehouse and Kielbasa Sausage in San Antonio. They also serve Baptist Temple by teaching health and finance classes from a Christian perspective on Wednesday nights are an integral part of our upcoming urban summer missions program.

Jose and Karla have a vision to develop Christian housing for university students in Latin America. The lack of campus housing creates a need and an opportunity to reach young adults with the gospel.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Architectural History is a Part of Baptist Temple's Legacy

Cameron designed the sanctuary (L) and the education building (R)
Baptist Temple owns a piece of San Antonio architectural history. Renowned architect and San Antonio native Ralph Haywood Cameron (1892–1970) designed both the sanctuary (1941) and the education building (1952). Cameron left his mark on the city where he lived and died, working in the popular revival styles of the early 20th century. His San Antonio buildings include the Emily Morgan Hotel (1924), formerly the Medical Arts Building; Grace Lutheran Church (1928); the Art Deco Frost Brothers Store Building (1930); and the Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building (1937), formerly the United States Post Office and Courthouse.

Cameron also served as an engineer in the Army during WWI and WWII and was a member of several fraternal and business organizations. He was a a founding member of the Texas Society of Architects.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Looking Back and Thinking Ahead to 2015

Many new people became a part of the Baptist Temple family in 2014, including Associate Pastor Dan Trevino. Dan's years of experience as a social worker and pastor had an immediate impact. His work with unaccompanied minors crossing the border received media attention and helped to reinforce the image of Baptist Temple as a church on the front line of caring. The story was covered by CBN, Baptist Standard, KENS5, and San Antonio Express-News

Renovation was the dominant activity at BT as we tackled deferred maintenance, remodeled some spaces and fixed things that broke. The biggest job was the roof (actually roofs). It took longer than planned but cost less than we had anticipated.

The chapel was the most visible job. Brighter lights, fresh paint and new carpet have created a cheerful multi-purpose space. Crosspoint sent large teams of volunteers on two occasions to paint the chapel, other do-it-yourself projects saved us thousands. Soon there will be new seats and sound system.

Other work included upgraded lighting in the gym and sanctuary and completion of the Brunnemann Building rehab.

The rehab of the Brunnemann facilitated the launch of our client choice food pantry. The program is mentoring-based and designed to help people become more self-sufficient. Other hunger fighting ministries include our free Agape meals on Wednesday nights and the summer feeding program which fed 180 children each day. In 2014, we received nearly $5000 in grants for our hunger fighting ministries from the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, San Antonio Baptist Association Hunger Walk, and the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Additionally, the Fellowship of San Antonio, HIS Bridgebuilders, New Frontiers Charter School and Wendy's have provided clothes, food, paper products and toiletries.

Our children’s ministry enjoyed field trips to Magik Theater, the Rodeo, Morgan's Wonderland and Camp Zephyr. Vacation Bible School attracted a larger number of unsaved children than usual, resulting in 40 professions of faith.

BT youth were among the first groups to experience the inaugural year of BOUNCE mission camp. This BGCT program is a complete missions package that combines summer camp and disaster relief. One youth called it the best camp ever.

There were some memorable worship moments as well including the children's musical “Truth Works,” the Christmas cantata “Mary Did You Know?” and a special “Hanging of the Green” worship experience. Special guests included recording artist Eve Miller and the youth choir from FBC Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Guest preachers included author Tomi Grover, Mark Newton, Baylor's Director for Church Engagement, and Josue Valerio, BGCT's Director of Mission Mobilization.

The most important event of the year was the formation of the church council that meet for the first time on January 4. The church council puts the BT ministry leaders in the same place at the same time to plan ministry and coordinate efforts towards our goal of soul-winning.

Last year was a turning point. It takes ten years for an organization to turn around and we are halfway there. Lessons of the past five years were implemented in 2014 as a foundation for future growth. Some of our endeavors fell flat but a few showed spectacular results.

I expect that 2015 will be a year of tremendous growth. Seeds that we have planted will soon start bearing fruit.

Three key areas for 2015:
  1. Our worship planning team is tasked with creating several worship experiences throughout the year that will attract our casual attenders and make first time attenders want to return.
  2. We will be hosting the Texas Deaf Church Conference and the Bi-vocational/Small Church Conference. Two other conferences are in the negotiation process.
  3. This summer we will offer an urban missions experience, Our partners include the Baptist General Convention of Texas and a growing number of local churches and ministries

I can see God's hand guiding us. He opens doors to new relationships and closes others that would not have worked in the interest of building His Kingdom. He has provided us with resources and friends as He builds His church.