Published Mar 07, 2023
FRESNO – CSBC ministry leaders and staff gathered for the first “staff week” meetings of 2023.
The office welcomed Dave Peugh, pastor of The Avenue Church in Fresno, to deliver the message at chapel. Focusing on Matthew chapter 11, Peugh gave a special word he said God placed on his heart, including insights gleaned from his own life experiences, communicating the importance of spiritual preparedness and advancing the Great Commission. Marc Tempesta, CFO, and Business Services Leader, and Sarah Graham, Director of Communications, led worship for the team.
During the General Staff Meeting, Initiative Leaders gave their reports featuring highlights, current statistics, and assessing the course for a year full of impactful events spreading the Gospel throughout the state.
Tempesta kicked off the reports, sharing that during the month of January, Cooperative Program giving came in a little under anticipation of their monthly estimates, but overall, “the Convention is on a smooth financial path.” Recognizing and giving thanks to former Executive Director Dr. Bill Agee, Tempesta continued, “he really set us up to be in a totally different place financially, and we can feel good about it.”
Ralph Neighbour, Church Matters Initiative Leader, said he is expecting 27 pastors to be in attendance for the Count the Cost Champion training event happening March 5-7. “We are increasing the number of champions and are growing the program to include our diversity of languages, something I believe will greatly benefit California churches,” said Neighbour. He also rejoiced at the success of the HR Bootcamps, where “there were approximately 150-250 attendees at each event.”
Church Music Workshop South, hosted by California Baptist University, saw great attendance and participation. Roger Byrd and Neighbour both noted anticipation of exceeding numbers of attendees for the Church Music Workshop North, featuring Grant Norsworthy, taking place at Creekside Christian Church in Elk Grove.
Evangelism Initiative Leader, Jason Blankenship revealed a tremendous highlight in the kingdom work being accomplished and the fruit of tracking measurables. “The battle before us is huge,” he said, “but in evaluating our evangelism grant reports, we discovered that the Gospel has been presented to 25,000 people through the events our churches have been hosting, and that is an amazing step in the right direction.”
Missions Initiative Team updates were given by Cathie Smith, Women’s Ministry Leader. “So much of what we do is relational based. Each of us (Missions, Feeding Those Who Feed Us, and the Women’s Ministry) are building and developing relationships and partnerships. While resourcing these connections, we are seeing the depth of these relationships.” Smith continued in reporting, “Missions College was a success that we will continue seeing fruitful rewards from.”
Disaster Relief Director Mike Bivins began his report by sharing, “We have worked really hard in the last five years working with the California Department of Social Services. Sometimes we’ve been the first call for disasters happening across California.” He shared there was a high rate of participation at their recent Suicide Prevention training, as well as at the Volunteer and Chaplain Requalification Orientation. “We had 12 renewals, and 28 new volunteers sign up and get certified.” Bivens shared. “We will be hosting a Disaster Relief Rapid Response Team training, with other DR networks at Gateway Seminary June 2-3. I am very thankful for the partnerships we have with the other DR chapters and the involvement of Gateway with this event!”
Sarah Graham, Director of Communications, announced that a new website is being developed with the hopes of launching sometime around the state annual meeting in October. Graham also announced the creation of a CSBC Legacy page on Facebook as a way of honoring influential SBC and CSBC brothers and sisters in Christ who have “finished the race.”
During the Executive Director Report, Pete Ramirez provided an update on the Church Planting Initiative efforts. “It is a very unique time for church planting, and with our partnership with NAMB as Send California, I am excited to see what is to come!” Second, Ramirez shared that he is working to partner with California Baptist University in the development of a special scholarship fund for Southern Baptist students to be able to utilize for education and mission endeavors. Finally, he closed by encouraging leaders and staff to love on the Directors of Missions. “Love on them because we all lean on them. They are the closest people to our churches out there!”