Fresno—A change of pace and programming occurred during CSBC’s April staff week gathering. The meeting began with worship, led by CFO and Business Services Team Leader Marc Tempesta. Ralph Neighbour III, Church Matters Initiative Team Leader, who had announced his plans for retirement a few months prior, gave an unconventional word for his final time in Chapel. Rather than a traditional sermon, Neighbour took a collaborative teaching approach focusing on beginnings and endings from an HR and Compliance perspective.
Taking inspiration from the book Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud, Neighbour presented all of the facets of beginnings and endings in creation, biology, history, and civilizations. He then directed the team to break off into small groups to work collaboratively, identifying characteristics of a team member who exhibits “ending well” – leaving an organization or ministry in a positive way – and contrasting with the opposing characteristics of one not “ending well” in their departure. He closed his lesson by encouraging the team to consider identifying meaningful factors for themselves.
Executive Director Pete Ramirez joined the conversation, sharing Ecclesiastes 7:8-9. “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
Neighbour concluded by saying, “Look around this room at all the people you will bless when it comes time for you to end well your tenure at the convention. These last five and a half years have been the very best for me, and I have been honored to serve the California Southern Baptist Convention.”
When the team reconvened for the Ministry Initiative Reports of the meeting, Tempesta presented updates on convention finances. As Business Services is wrapping up March, the Cooperative Program (CP) fund came in nearly $115,000 short of the anticipated numbers when compared to the previous years. “There are a lot of moving pieces in CP. I just encourage you all to be in prayer over CP as we move forward,” stated Tempesta.
Shawn Dorrough, a representative from Guidestone Financial Services, presented a number of factors that have significantly contributed to the financial health of retirement savings. Some of those factors included oil prices hitting a record high, the Federal Reserve increasing rates seven times in 2022, the U.S. experiencing the highest inflation rates in 40 years, and the high probability of a recession occurring in 2023. He went on to share that only 39% of current retirees feel comfortable with what they have saved for their retirement years. Dorrough was also on-site to meet with staffers regarding their individual financial retirement plans.
Francis Chung, Missions Initiatives Leader, shared updates on Reality Check, the Minsters’ Wives Retreat happening in May, with registration closing at 93 attendees.
Jason Blankenship, Evangelism Initiatives Leader, provided an update on the evangelism workshops held in conjunction with associations across the state. Due to the scheduling demands of 2023 thus far, “mostly northern associations have held workshops,” Blankenship reflected. “I’ve seen the attendees not only need the information about obtaining these grants, but also inspiration and encouragement.”
Mike Bivins, Director of Disaster Relief and Camping Ministry, thanked the CSBC Communications team for their help in highlighting the Disaster Relief ministry over the course of April in This Week at CSBC. Bivins informed the team of developments to the upcoming Disaster Relief Rapid Response Team training hosted at Gateway Seminary on June 2-3. He remarked that “five other states’ Disaster Relief ministries within our region have confirmed their participation at the event, which is great to see!”
Ralph Neighbour’s report detailed what his transition from the Convention into retirement will look like for the team, as well as how the position he has accepted with ChurchWest will interact with his ties to CSBC.
Ramirez congratulated Francis Chung for representing CSBC well as the guest preacher at Gateway’s Chapel event the week prior. Additionally, he urged the team to “continue to pray for the Cooperative Program amidst the financial instability that is occurring in the world at this time.” He announced plans to be in Red Bluff in May for a church planting meeting. “I’ll be headed to Red Bluff to further develop plans for building churches in the true north. Derk Schulze, (DOM for the North Coast Association) has presented a proposal, working alongside indigenous peoples from Northern California. We have much work to get done in, and with, our north region!”
“Our Staff Week meetings should be a time of celebration, for all the accomplishments and kingdom work being accomplished by our team,” Ramirez concluded. “These reports show that we are hungry and humble for the Lord, so that we can do the work he has called us all to do.”
Ramirez shared that July’s staff week meetings have been canceled. He encouraged the team to “take vacations and time off to rest,” so they may continue with strength in all of their kingdom work assignments.
Lisa Kooiman serves as the executive assistant in the Office of Communications for the California Southern Baptist Convention. She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno. Lisa and her husband, Ruben, are enjoying the season of parenthood with their preschool daughter, Everly. They attend the Old Town Campus of Clovis Hills Community Church, the very church (under different leadership and name) where Lisa made a profession of faith and was baptized as a young girl.
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