Fresno – The temperatures in California weren’t the only thing piping hot as the CSBC Staff met for their July all-staff meeting. This was the first staff meeting for Jason Robertson and Kendrick Neal, two newly elected leaders of the CSBC Leadership team.
Marc Tempesta, CFO and Business Services Team Leader started the meeting with the Finance Report for the Convention. He reported that Cooperative Program giving was down in May, but a rebound was seen in the month of June. “As I have shared with the team before, some months are heavier than others in terms of giving. Some of our churches are sporadic givers, others are more regular. I feel good about where we are at this point in the year,” said Tempesta.
Sarah Graham, Communications Director, introduced Matt Brower, the new Marketing Coordinator for the Communications Team. She provided an update on the status of The California Mission Offering (CMO) 2023 materials, which will be available for ordering in the coming weeks. Graham also highlighted a special family curriculum, developed collaboratively by Carol Bohrer, Bethany Bohrer, and Beverly Regensburg.
Will Browning, Director of Send Network California, presented updates for the Church Planting initiative. He educated staff to NAMB’s GenSend initiative. “This program is designed to teach students how to engage a fallen world with the transformative hope of the good news.” He continued, “The program works with students, sending them to a designated city to do ministry work, where they are provided housing, transportation, and a meal card, and only need to provide $600 for this 6-week program.” Browning additionally shared that to date in 2023, CSBC has helped plant 24 churches, and 35 have been assessed for planting next year.
Evangelism Initiative Team Leader, Jason Blankenship, announced the upcoming Crossover California event he and Missions Initiative Team Leader Francis Chung, are collaborating on. Working in conjunction with the Mid-Valley Association and Director of Missions Greg Kilgore, Crossover California will precede the opening of the CSBC Annual Meeting in October. Blankenship stated, “We are seeking churches in the area to hold events, and looking for churches that are willing to travel from other parts of California to partner with the local churches in the Fresno-Clovis area. We are really excited to see what God has in store for Crossover California!” Blankenship stated that limited scholarships will be offered to help cover lodging and other travel costs to those wanting to participate.”
Kendrick Neal gave his first report as CSBC’s Disaster Relief Director. Neal thanked Mike Bivins for helping during his transition -both locally at the DART training at Gateway Seminary, as well as nationally through the SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Neal also reported that California and much of the west coast has officially entered fire season. “We have not deployed any teams yet, but I am sure that won’t be the case for long,” Neal stated.
Some upcoming events in which Disaster Relief will be participating are:
- July 29th, Merced Resource Fair at First Baptist Church of Atwater
- July 30th, Missions DR Sermon at Mandarin Baptist Church of San Fernando Valley
- August 19th, NorCal DR Introductory Training will be taking place at El Camino Baptist Church
- August 26th, SoCal DR Introductory Training will be taking place at First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim
Jason Robertson gave his first address as the Church Matters Initiative Team Leader. “Much of these first two months have been filled with meetings, getting me up to speed with where the team is, but overall, as I embark in this role, I want churches here in California to know they are not alone,” said Robertson. He shared his appreciation of pastors and church planters facing adversity, discouragement, and hardships in their own lives and families amongst the responsibilities of leading a church.
Team reports were concluded by the Missions Initiative Team, led by Francis Chung, (Team Leader).
Cathie Smith, Women’s Ministry Director, recapped May’s Ministers’ Wives Retreat. She celebrated the 91 registrants in attendance, and how God worked through each of the women. “Every woman received a list containing the names of 10 other attendees to pray over. This prayer activity really brought the women together.” She shared a quote from one of the ladies, “This retreat was filled with so many tears. Tears of joy, pain, heartache, blessings, and the outpouring of the Spirit. It was a time to reflect and to put off things we carry with ourselves and put on the things of Christ. So thankful for this time” (Karen Rardin from Journey Christian Fellowship).
Oscar Sanchez, Migrant Ministry Director, addressed the staff for the first time since his cancer diagnosis. He shared that he has a final treatment scheduled and is hopeful for a good report from the doctor. Oscar shared “big plans” for the year ahead, aiming for 5,000 decisions for Christ in 2024.
Chung wrapped the Missions report by sharing details from his United Kingdom vision trip. “Small churches can change the world,” stated Chung. “During the week we were there, I took a day off to go on the Christian Heritage Tour. One of the churches we visited was John Newton’s church. One might think it would be considered a mega church, but it only holds 128 seats.”
Executive Director, Pete Ramirez, reflected on the positive reports given by the team leaders. “All things are possible with God, and our reports and numbers show it! Our numbers are just ridiculous!” He cheered the team on stating, “All the things you do, each of you, are making a difference. I didn’t hear reports being given. I heard the heart of the Lord.”