Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Using buildings as a ministry tool

Facilities were the first feature mentioned by denominational leaders when I inquired about BT in 2009. There were built strong and maintained well. They include four, three story, interconnected buildings, two smaller buildings, a playground, a two bedroom house, a garden and five parking lots on four corners of an intersection; 80,000 square feet on three acres. They are indeed a remarkable presence in the community.

Baptist Temple quickly outgrew its new building and had to build again. The new concrete structure, built in 1917 still stands today and has been designated an historic building.

From the beginning of it's history BT has been putting up new buildings, tearing down old ones, renovating, improving, repairing and expanding as it continued to meet both numerical growth and the changing needs of its ministry. Buildings are an important part of the ministry for most churches. It is exciting at first. Attendance and finances are growing and your building becomes a sign of prosperity. It seems easy to get people to invest in beautiful, modern facilities. However, when a church begins to decline, the building becomes a burden. Few people want to invest in a lost cause. First maintenance begins to take up a growing share of the budget. Next minor, then major, maintenance needs are deferred. The deterioration is visible from the street turning away potential newcomers and, soon, a seemingly irreversible downward spiral ends with the church shutting down.

In 2009 BT was in great shape. In needed some work but it was still an attractive facility. In the 1980's major renovations began to modernize most of the BT facilities, particularly the 1942 sanctuary and the 1930 children's building. To preserve the future and expand our ministry impact, renovation continued in the 21st Century, when over $500,000 dollars were raised to repair the roof and exterior walls and improve and expand the facility's ministry impact.

Included in these renovations was an old dry goods store that once belonged to the Brunneman family. It had been purchased by the church and wound up being a closet for things we weren't ready to throw way, yet. As part of the strengthening our community ministry focus, the building was cleaned up, remodeled and christened the Brunneman building (honoring Max Brunneman whose parents, children and grandchildren have all been a part of BT.) Here our Highland Park CAN (Community Assistance Network) provides a thrift store, food pantry and teaching garden serve our community.

The Fritz Building (once a Boy Scout Hall) was renovated to make it more appealing for community meetings and events. The Long Mission House was purchased in 2018 to house resident interns who will live and work in the community. Modern touches included WiFi, flat screen monitors and a solar array that declared our commitment to creation care.

The work to expand the ministry impact of our facilities continue as we renovate our playground to be inclusive and enable special needs children to play with their friends with typical abilities.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Youth Spotlight: Shaylynn Fisher

Guest blog by Melissa Baxter

Shalynn Fisher is a graduate of Highlands High School, class of 2019. She has been part of Baptist Temple since 2002 with her brother Zachry, parents John and Heather and her great-grandmother, Jean Vance. She committed to faith in Christ at age six and was baptized at Baptist Temple.

She is a strong Christian and credits the Lord and the prayers of her fellow Christians in getting her through her surgery in 2008. She knows the Lord watches over her, even though things are a bit more difficult for her than most. She realizes that she is blessed in different ways and keeps her focus on that.

A faithful Sunday School member, Shalynn has been a part of BT's children and youth ministries and looks forward to going to Centrifuge for her final year of youth camp. She has sung in the Sanctuary Choir since age 12.

Shalynn has been a Girl Scout for the past 12 years, beginning with Brownies and continuing through Ambassador Scouts and will bridge to being an Adult Scout this summer. She has numerous badges for learning new skills and experiencing new things. She loves working with the Daisies, the youngest members of the scouting family.

She lettered in choir at Highlands High School, participating all four years and recently sang a solo in the end-of-year choir program at school. She will attend San Antonio Colleges this fall.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Youth Spotlight: Dylan Zayasbazan

Guest blog by Melissa Baxter

A senior at East Central High School and one of Baptist Temple's Youth Dylan Zayasbazan has accomplished much in his 18 years. He is class valedictorian and received the Academic Achievement Award twice in 2018, from both the English and the Computer/Technology Departments. He was nominated for the Princeton Book Award in 2018. His participation in the Art Club, the Green Team, Envirothon and the Math & Sciences team and his service as a Vice President of the National Honor Society have helped him to develop his public speaking skills. 

Dylan has a black belt in karate, plays the piano, climbed Mt. Katahdin and has a love for pottery and sculpture. An industrious worker, he spent a summer working Shaw's Hostel, tutored math and currently works at Chick-Fil-A and the Baptist Temple nursery.
 

Last summer, Dylan completed basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and serves with the 228th Combat Support Hospital in the U.S. Army Reserves.
 

Next Fall Dylan will be attending the prestigious Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering. Cockrell is ranked first in Texas and eighth in the country among engineering schools.
 

Dylan received Christ at a young age. His favorite scriptures are Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
 

And James 1:12, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

Dylan's parents are Pastor Jorge and Tracy Zayasbazan.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Servant Spotlight: Edwin Dyer

Guest blog by Melissa Baxter

Born in 1926, Edwin Dyer has been a member of Baptist Temple almost 70 years. Nearly every Sunday he is found sitting in the second to the back row on the right side with a bright smile and kind word.

During WWII, Edwin’s family had a café that was required by the government to stay open every day to feed the Kelly Field workers. Although this wasn’t ideal, his family did get extra rations to make up for the inconvenience.

A hard worker, Edwin’s first job was running a projector at the movie theater making about $200/month (a lot of money back then!) As a high school senior, he was named the best paper boy in San Antonio for delivering the most Express-News papers and was awarded a $25 war bond.

He graduated from Hot Wells High School at 16 and was drafted into the Army at 18 as an infantry man, training at Ft. Hood. He served in the Philippines with the 32nd infantry on a crew that cleaned up after the major battles during the liberation of the islands from the Japanese. He said “It wasn’t easy.”

Finding a job was difficult after leaving the Army but Edwin was in the 52/20 club. The US government paid $20/month for a year while veterans looked for work. He finally went to school to be a lithographer/typesetter, a job he enjoyed for 41 years.

Baptist Temple's pastor at the time, Vernon Elmore, had lunch at Edwin's parents café with Sam Prestige, Minister of Music, and church member, Walter Lynn. This led to an invitation for the Dyer family to visit Baptist Temple. The family joined Baptist Temple together when Edwin was about 24 years old.

Edwin is a Shriner and his proudest moment came when he was able to facilitate the treatment of a young boy with club foot. He feels that he was a vessel for the good work that was done for that boy and his family.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Baptist Temple recognized as Compassionate San Antonians

Billy Palmer, Karen Newman, Robert Newman, Jonathan Clark, Melissa Baxter, Councilwoman Rebecca Villagran, Pastor Jorge Zayasbazan, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Clinton Blumberg, Cathy Blumberg, Louise Stutteville, Ann Helmke

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg presented Baptist Temple Church of San Antonio the Compassionate San Antonian Award on March 20. The award recognizes individuals who serve our community through acts of kindness and compassion, making a difference in the lives of others. Baptist Temple was nominated along with several District 3 churches by the City of San Antonio's Faith Based Initiative Liaison, Ann Helmke. 

Baptist Temple was recognized for the innovative ways it has used its large inner-city city campus to serve the spiritual and physical needs of the community. These services include a PK4 through 8th grade charter school, an infant through 5 years early learning center, a thrift store and food pantry, a prison ministry, a performing arts ministry, crafts classes, support groups, counseling and more. On Sundays, six independent churches conduct worship from 9 AM to 3 PM. These include a congregation that worships in Spanish and one in American Sign Language. To complete our cradle to grave services, our campus offers funeral services that are dignified and affordable.

All of these services are made possible by collaborating with others who share our desire to make our community and world a better place. One such collaboration brought a solar array to the roofs of the Baptist Temple Campus. A venture capital firm sells the solar energy collected to CPS Energy. For the use of our roof space, Baptist Temple receives a credit on our utility bill. While the credit is good thing, we are most excited about being a part of the effort to become less dependent on imported fossil fuels; an effort that is both earth-friendly and may keep us out of future wars. 

Recently, Baptist Temple has launched two cutting-edge efforts designed to bring lasting change to our community. The first involves breaking the bonds of generational poverty. We believe our best chance of bring lasting change is to reach children between the ages of 9-14. This is when their world view is forming. 

Baptist Temple seeks to help these children to stay in school and move on to college, trade school or the military. A world of success awaits them. All of our high schools have the resources to make our students succeed if they take advantage of the opportunities provided.

A second endeavor is an inclusive playground that will enable special needs children and children with typical abilities play together. This will foster mutual understanding, friendships, and a real sense of community. Baptist Temple is always looking for ways to be a positive impact on the community.

Partners multiply our impact while dividing our overhead costs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

God is faithful to His Word and promises

Guest blog by Raquel Delagarza

We lived in the Victoria Courts from the time I was in first grade until shortly after I graduated from high school. I was blessed with a mother who lived her faith and gave glory and thanks to God in front of us, so we knew who our God and Provider was. She always reminded us that God would never leave us or forsake us.

Sometimes it may seem that God is far away or not listening when we are experiencing hard times. But He has never seemed more real to me than when I lean on Him for strength, comfort, mercy and grace.

I have had several health scares in my lifetime; through each the Lord has been with me.

When I was nine years old, my appendix ruptured. Through the night, I was draped in towels rinsed in ice water, and then ice was placed on top of the towels to get my fever down for the surgery. Throughout the night, my mom sat by my bed and together we recited the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm.

My most recent health scare was breast cancer in 2016. God gave me peace to trust Him so I was able to get through two months of tests before the diagnosis and treatment were firm. He spoke to me through His Word and Christian songs.

While going through the various tests, I clung to Psalm 112:7, "They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them."
 

Once I received the cancer diagnosis, Isaiah 43:2 gave me strength, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you"

And Philippians 4:6-7 reminded me to take my petitions to the Lord and leave them with him, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

The chorus of one of the Christian songs I kept singing was,


In the eye of the storm, you remain in control.
In the middle of the war, you guard my soul.
You alone are my anchor, when my sails are torn.
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm."

My prayer is that my moments of weakness or fear would not cause someone to doubt and wonder, "where is the God she said she believes in?"

God is faithful to His Word and promises because He is God.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Working with government agencies

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for 
there is no authority except that which God has established. 
The authorities that exist have been established by God... 
the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.  

When it came time to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah asked the leader of the government in power for help. King Artaxerxes, though not a believer, gave Nehemiah leave, travel documents, and letters of credit. God had worked in the heart of this pagan ruler to show favor to Nehemiah.

In Genesis (39-47) we read that God had arranged for Joseph to become head of a government feeding program that saved not only Egypt but, also, Israel and the rest of the region. The Apostle Paul made full use of his rights as a Roman citizen to preserve his life and gain an audience with the emperor. God has established government authorities to fulfill His purposes.

Churches today are beneficiaries of many government programs. These include police and fire protection, safe roads and building codes. Some churches also partner with the government in summer feeding programs, day care vouchers, and senior adult and veterans' services to name a few.

In fact, urban churches provide services to their community that would otherwise need to be provided by a government agency. Examples include emergency food and clothing distribution, counseling, support groups, recreation, etc. More than 80% of the recipients of these services are not members of the church providing them.

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people works with churches and other local, faith-based groups for the common good. One such endeavor is the Faith-Based Initiative of San Antonio. The Initiative was created by the city council in 2016 to facilitate relational collaboration, active partnerships, and networked services between the San Antonio faith community, government agencies, non-profit organizations and community groups.

The Faith Liaison for the Initiative, Ann Helmke, helped to organize a group of churches in District 3 to work with Councilwoman Rebecca Villagran to tackle the issues of hunger and homelessness. Within a year we had four new food pantries and an ID recovery program in the areas of greatest needs.

As God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45),” So teamwork builds God's Kingdom for all, even, with the help of people who may not see the world as I do.

Monday, January 28, 2019

God is always at work around you

Experiencing God: Reality 1

When a missionary enters a “pioneer” area they tend to think that they are bringing God into a “godforsaken” land. I was a Marine attending a very mission minded Southern Baptist Church in North Carolina when I received orders to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. In my mind, the north was the realm of atheism and I saw God's hand in providing me an opportunity to bring the gospel to a sinful people.

I was surprised to find Christians in Maryland and a new church start in the community where I had moved. I quickly found a home there and was licensed, mentored and ordained by a people who were mission minded and eager to train a young man with a call to ministry. I learned that God was at work in Maryland long before He arranged for me to arrive.

From Maryland, I went to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I had pictured myself as a youth pastor in an outlying rural community. Apparently, so had every other ministry student. I found myself, instead, the pastor of an inner-city new church start just outside the French Quarter.

God had been at work in advance of my arrival. There were seminary students who had arrived at NOBTS for reasons unrelated to my church who partnered with me in this God-sized adventure. They were sojourners on a quest for their own God-driven destinies

Looking back I can see how God had been at work in my life and in the life of Baptist Temple to create the wonderful ministry that has emerged. I know that He has been at work carefully selecting who would be a part of the future and who would not. Even now He is developing leaders who will lead Baptist Temple into the future.

God is always at work around us. We must open the eyes of our heart to see what he is doing.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A place for children of all abilities to play together

Jeff and Jonathan assemble a playscape
Baptist Temple recently received a check for $7395 from the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio to build an inclusive playground on the Southside. Inclusive playgrounds allow children of different ability levels to play together. They can inspire mutual understanding, friendships, and a real sense of community.

Play is an important part of a child's development. It helps them to 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.) Furthermore, we are in an area identified by the federal government as economically depressed (Eastside Promise Zone). A community survey estimates that there are more than 1000 children with disabilities in Baptist Temple's immediate vicinity (Highland Park).

Social isolation can be more painful to live with than the physical or development disabilities themselves. Many kids with disabilities spend less than two hours a week with their peers outside of classroom. A study by the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor, shows that 53% of disabled kids have no friends.

Nora Gonzales, mother of a child born missing arms and parts of his legs, remembers her son playing at Respite Care's inclusive playground, “I remember seeing my little boy having a good time. He could explore and excel in his environment,” she said.

Her son, Xavier, is now a 19 year-old college student. Nora attributes his growing independence to services that she and Xavier were able to access. They want that access for other children with special needs.

Everyone benefits. Children who learn to play with children of all ability levels will be more prepared for a diverse work environment. An inclusive playground shows that everyone has value. “[Inclusive playgrounds] are a big step to making the world a more inclusive place,” said Xavier.

The first phase of the playground is complete and features accessible playscapes suitable for children aged two and under. This was was made possible by the Baptist Health Foundations grant plus additional gifts through the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation and from Baptist Temple members.

We are currently raising funds for the second phase for children age five and up,” said Jorge Zayasbazan, pastor of Baptist Temple.

This phase, too, will include wheelchair access and features for the mobility impaired. “We want all children to feel welcome and included,” said Zayasbazan


Monday, January 07, 2019

Baptist Temple Year in Review: 2018

Xavier, Nora, Jorge and Robert receive grant from Baptist
Health Foundation on behalf of Baptist Temple.


The dedication of the OLAYA LONG MISSION HOUSE, on our 107th anniversary (December 9), was the high point of a another victory-filled year of ministry. The journey began in the Summer of 2017 when the house to the east of our property line became available. We began to pray for vision and provision.

God gave us a vision to use the house as a residence for ministry interns so they could add practical experience in a multicultural, urban setting to their classroom learning. Over the last ten years, Baptist Temple has worked with over 20 interns. We have a strong commitment to train future generations of urban ministers.

Financial gifts, labor and other support from George and Olaya Long, Ed and Rose Flynn, Jean Williams, Buster Snellgrove, FBC Corsicana, FBC San Marcos, Woodland Baptist Church, Crosspointe, Inc., the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), and the members and friends of Baptist Temple made this ministry vision a reality.


The SOLAR PANELS on our roofs were completed in May. They belong to a venture capital firm who sells energy to CPS. In return, we receive 3 cents per kilowatt (over $600 on a good month). Our primary motivation is to help tilt the scale in favor of renewable energy and energy independence. Tending the planet was humanity's first job.

Another big event this year was the completion of the cell tower. This will improve technological access for our community and provide funds to support our expanding ministry.

This year we welcomed FUNERALCARING® USA to our family of churches and agencies serving our community. FuneralCaring® USA is the leader in affordable funeral services in San Antonio, helping folks celebrate the life and the memory of loved ones with a dignified funeral at a reasonable cost. They provide support to grieving families with high-quality, value-driven merchandise, superior service, and uplifting facilities.

Also, NEW TO THE BT CAMPUS this year are the Message Church (a CBF-related new church start that worships at 9 AM in the chapel), Club Lighthouse (a Christian performing arts ministry), and Nora Gonzales (Metrohealth Community Health Worker).

We created A NEW LIFE FOR THE LIBRARY by moving into the large hallway outside the classrooms on the second floor of building 4. Books that had not been checked out for decades were removed and children's books from Jubilee Academy were merged in. We hope that the increased visibility will increase the number of books checked out by the children and adults on the BT Campus.

Our deacons continue to grow in their ability to minister to our members. This year we ordained long-time member Melissa Baxter and selected Roger and Rosie Ramon and Armando and Rosalinda Acosta as yokefellows. A yokefellow goes through a period of training, prayer and reflection prior to ordination as a deacon.

Family Deaf Church, CBC Highland Park, a mission team from Baptist University of the Americas and Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry joined Baptist Temple in putting together another spectacular VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL. We had 102 students and 90 volunteers.

SLIDESHOW: VBS

Our annual BACK 2 SCHOOL HEALTH FAIR immediately followed. Eighteen community organizations joined together to give out school supplies, hot dogs, information and more. Working with Metrohealth, the Moose Lodge and District 3, this year's event was the official Highland Park back to school event. Other family focused, community outreach events included the EASTER PARTY, the FALL FEST and the CHRISTMAS PARTY.

The GYM was humming all year as we hosted nine youth basketball teams and two adult recreational basketball groups. We hope to bring that level of activity to the FRITZ BUILDING, hosting classes everyday of the week. Robert Newman joined our pastoral staff as MINISTER OF ADULTS to help develop our weekday ministry and outreach efforts.

As the year came to an end, we were poised for our next major project. Grants of $7395 from the Baptist Health Foundation and $1000 from the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation have been added to the $5470 raised through our Mother's Day and Christmas offerings to fund phase one of our INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND project. Our goal is to create a playground where all children can play together regardless of ability. Phase two will cost $80-100,000. We awaiting a decision on a $60,000 grant and will be applying for some other grants, as well as doing other fundraising events.

The new year will start with an EXPERIENCING GOD WEEKEND. We will be intentional about drawing closer to God and to each other as we prepare of a new decade of ministry to our community.