FRESNO – March 28-29 marked the monthly CSBC Staff Week for leaders and staff members. The meeting began much like a homecoming for former CSBC staffer Pastor Greg Sumii. Sumii, who was first introduced to the CSBC ministry 35 years prior, preached at Chapel for the CSBC ministry teams. During his message, he recollected his 17 years of weekly chapel meetings and how the Lord has called him to serve in countless ways. Despite health conditions, he still finds ways to make a difference in ministries near and far, including most recently at Missions College hosted by Gateway Seminary.
In introducing Sumii to the current staff, Executive Director Pete Ramirez reflected on the statewide and personal impact that Pastor Sumii had during his CSBC tenure. Ramirez encouraged the team to be thoughtful of our California pastors and to “keep them in prayer.” He then directed team members to break into prayer groups and pray for pastors so that they may feel encouragement and support in the challenges and triumphs they face.
Communications Director, Sarah Graham, presented the CSBC Annual Meeting theme chosen by the Committee on Convention Operations, as well as the branding for the event developed by Content Developer Michael Solorio. Graham also provided a tutorial on social media practices and techniques.
CSBC’s Church Matters Team Leader, Ralph Neighbour, reported the Church Matters team has been working very closely with church plants, ensuring each new pastor has a coach and resources provided through Church HR Network. He thanked Church Planting Initiatives team Specialist Veronica Morales for all of her effort in assisting his team.
Roger Byrd reported victories from the Church Music Workshop North and South. The workshop in Riverside had 120 registrants, representing 24 California churches. The northern workshop in Elk Grove reported 280 registrants, representing 39 churches. Byrd simply stated, “God provided.”
Mike Bivins, Director of Disaster Relief Ministry, updated that he developed a strategy to connect with local pastors in disaster areas to set up feeding sites. In as recent as the last two weeks, he connected with Sequoia Baptist Association Director of Missions, Nestor Amaya, and set up a site at a church in Porterville where DR had been serving 300 meals daily. Porterville and its surrounding communities have been severely impacted by flooding from the heavy rainfall. Many of these regions are primarily considered agricultural-producing communities; thus, 60% of those affected are migrant worker families. Bivins shared, “many of these migrant worker families have lost everything. Some were even rescued by boat and could only take what they could grab quickly.”
Jason Blankenship, Evangelism Initiatives Team leader, provided an update that in 2022, 90,193 individuals heard the gospel through the events funded with evangelism grants. He celebrated CSBC’s role in helping advance the kingdom through the strong efforts of California churches. Blankenship closed his report by celebrating the success of the student ministry conference, Ignition, held earlier this month. “The numbers were just impressive, … 700 students in person and 200 online. RJ McCauley, Youth Ministry Champion, did a stellar job at building relationships to make this event all that it was.”
Missions Initiatives Leader Francis Chung shared his experience from the December 2022 mission trip he embarked on and the diverse makeup of the team he traveled with. He remarked that the group was “very reflective of California’s diversity and the diversity of the church.” He also reported that he and Pete Ramirez will be traveling to Malaysia for their Baptist Convention in July.
Ramirez wrapped the meeting by recounting the attendance at the Director of Missions Fellowship held mid-March as being “below expectation, but it was such a good meeting.” He credited Shasta Association Director of Missions, John Bohrer, for his gentle style of leadership and kindness over the DOMs and all the efforts put forth by his Executive Assistant, Beth Ketcheside.
Ramirez further reported that the On Target Evangelism Conferences planned for April and May have been canceled. “Even though it is unfortunate,” he said, “I am okay with it. Where God is blessing, let’s add gasoline to those areas! We need to be willing to go where the Lord is leading.”