Texas Baptists Life, Volume 9 Issue 3

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Supporting and caring for ministers Learn how the Center for Ministerial Health is equipping and strengthening church leaders. p. 17


Senior Pastor of FBC Universal City, Universal City, TX

Issue No. 3

a movement of god’s people to













Contents Center for Ministerial Health Led by Director Dowell Loftis, the Center for Ministerial Health invests in Texas Baptists ministers to encourage them towards excellence so they can be their best to serve the Lord and his people. Read more about how Texas Baptists is equipping and strengthening pastors, ministers and church leaders.

Providing rest and support through Counseling Services Read how two pastors and their spouses were impacted by Counseling Services provided through Texas Baptists.

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From Texas to the ends of the Earth: Celebrating 75 years of Go Now Missions


Learn how a mission trip in 1946 turned into 75 years of college students on mission.

Across the state, Area Representatives are the boots on the ground for Texas Baptists. Read the stories of some of these representatives, and see how they can help your church.

BSM 12 Longhorn dedicates new facilities to the Lord and honors those who came before On Saturday, April 17, about 35 people gathered at the new Longhorn Baptist Student Ministry building in Austin to dedicate the space to the Lord and celebrate the rich legacy of those who came before.


A journey with your Mary Hill Davis Offering® dollars to the Valley Read how the Mary Hill Davis Offering is making a difference in the lives of people in the Rio Grande Valley.

Connecting, refreshing and encouraging churches and pastors


Preparing for the future

The Ministers Financial Health team is helping pastors and their families look ahead to the future with financial confidence.


Cowboy Church Pastoral Center equips future church planters Jason Bryant, Western Heritage consultant, explains how Texas Baptists is training future cowboy church planters.


Striving for a balanced plate

Read how Josh and Melissa Fuentes are using the resources from the Pastor Strong Initiative of Greater San Antonio to lead healthier lives.


Conectar, refrescar, y exhortar iglesias y pastores Los Representantes de Área son las tropas en el terreno para los Bautistas de Texas. Ellos pasan la mayor parte de su tiempo de camino, visitando diversas iglesias en sus regiones, y respondiendo a necesidades cada día.

Publication Team Joshua Seth Minatrea Director of Communications Bonnie Shaw Interim News Manager Maritza Solano Production Designer Caleb Arndt Graphic Designer Neil Williams Multimedia Specialist Meredith Rose Social Media Specialist Brittany Thomas Digital Marketing Specialist/ Communications Assistant You are receiving a free copy of Texas Baptists Life because of your generous support of the Cooperative Program. To subscribe or update your subscription preferences, call 214.828.5232 or email subscriptions@txb.org





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from the


Hello, Texas Baptists!

Even though I believe some great days are ahead, I am fully aware that these past months have been challenging for everyone. That includes our pastors and church staff members. For them, the past 16-17 months have been tough! Now, the good news: Texas Baptists, several months ago, established a new center, The Center for Ministerial Health. I can only say it was created “for such a time as this!” This center, led by Dr. Dowell Loftis, provides assistance to the ministers in your church, if and when they need it, in life areas such as mental and emotional health, financial health and special “Pastor Strong” initiatives, such as the one in Bexar County funded through a partnership between Texas Baptists and The Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio, which is capably led by Ben Hanna. All around Texas, we have placed Area Representatives for the purpose of staying connected to your church and particularly to your pastor. Your pastor needs a friend, a helper and a confidant. Our Area Representatives are just that. If you need to know who the Area Representative is in your area please go to txb.org/areareps. In this edition of our magazine, you’ll find all kinds of information on the Center for Ministerial Health. Please make use of these opportunities and resources as you need.

Finally, one additional idea to consider is that of giving your pastor and other staff members a little extra time off for the purposes of recovery and rejuvenation. Such time away would probably benefit both the minister and the church. Please take some time to read this magazine. Share it with others!

¡Hola Bautistas de Texas! Como siempre, estoy agradecido por la oportunidad de servirles y oro por nuestra familia Bautista de Texas según salimos de la pandemia del COVID-19. Creo que hay buenos tiempos por delante. Sin embargo, a pesar de que creo que hay buenos tiempos por delante, estoy completamente consciente de que estos pasados meses han sido un desafío para todo. Incluidos en “todos” están nuestros pastores y miembros de personal ministerial. ¡Para ellos, los pasados 16-17 meses han sido difíciles! Ahora, las buenas noticias: La Convención de su estado, hace varios meses, estableció un Centro nuevo, el Centro para la Salud Ministerial. Solamente puedo decir “¡para un momento como este!” Este Centro, dirigido por el Dr. Dowell Loftis, provee ayuda a los ministros en su iglesia, siempre y cuando lo necesiten, en áreas de la vida como la salud mental y emocional, salud financiera e iniciativas especiales para un “pastor fuerte” como la financiada a través de la colaboración entre BGCT y

la Fundación Bautista para la Salud en San Antonio. Esta iniciativa es dirigida por Ben Hanna. Por todo Texas hemos colocado Representantes de Área con el propósito de permanecer conectados con su iglesia y particularmente con su pastor. Su pastor necesita un amigo, un ayudador, y un confidente. Nuestros Representantes de Área son exactamente seo. Si necesita conocer quién es su Representante de Área, por favor comuníquese con nuestra oficina. En esta edición de nuestra revista encontrará todo tipo de información del Centro para la Salud Ministerial. Por favor, use estas oportunidades y recursos según los necesite. Por último, una idea adicional a considerar es la de proveer para su pastor y otros ministros un poco de tiempo adicional para el propósito de recuperar y rejuvenecer. Tal tiempo afuera probablemente beneficiará al ministro y a la iglesia. Por favor, tome tiempo para leer eta revista. Blessings & Bendeciones



As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you and am praying for our Texas Baptist family as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe some great days are ahead for us.





Learn more at iamtexasmissions.org


On Sunday, June 6, Texas Baptists presented the 2021 Legacy Award to Richard A. Jackson and Roy T. Edgemon. The award is presented annually at the Independence Baptist Church in Independence, Texas, in recognition of lifelong Christian service. Jackson’s lifetime of ministry includes pastorates and interim pastorates of Texas Baptists churches around the state, service as a trustee for Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and presidency of the Jackson Center for

Evangelism and Encouragement in Brownwood. He is pastor emeritus of North Phoenix Baptist Church. Edgemon has served in all aspects of Baptist life, including as an overseas missionary with the International Mission Board, an evangelism planter with the North American Mission Board, director of Church Training and later director of Discipleship at Lifeway, and as a pastor of eight churches in Texas.

WMU OF TEXAS ANNUAL MEETING ENCOURAGES PARTICIPANTS TO PURSUE GOD’S CALL ON THEIR LIFE The WMU of Texas held its Pursue 2021 Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration on April 16-17 at First Baptist Richardson. Participants were provided an opportunity to connect with one another, as well as being inspired and equipped as leaders to pursue God’s calling and encouraged to impact their communities as they make disciples. Texas Baptists Executive Director David Hardage shared about the tremendous

impact of the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions® on the missions and ministry of Texas Baptists. “So much of the missions and ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas couldn’t happen were it not for WMU of Texas and the Mary Hill Davis Offering®,” he said. “I believe in this offering. I give to it. I want to personally invite pastors to promote it harder and stronger than they ever have before in 2021.”

The May Executive Board meeting marked the first time the Executive Board was able to gather in person since the February 2020 meeting, after which meetings were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 10 regrets and 23 online attendees, with the rest attending in person. Board leaders celebrated being together again as they heard ministry reports and conducted convention business. During his report, Executive Director David Hardage explained how Texas Baptists had responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and looked ahead to the future and to figurative storms that may be present in the days ahead. “How do you speak truth with grace?” he asked. “We want to do both of those. We will always, always stand on the truth of God’s word. We want to love God and love other people.”
















First Baptist Lubbock May 25, 2021

First Baptist Church Last Friday we had the opportunity to provide lunch for some of the educators of Lubbock ISD! They’ve done a terrific job all year and we were so grateful for the chance to serve them!

UT Tyler BSM May 23, 2021

Jordan Villanueva May 25, 2021

uttylerbsm They are sent from Washington to Florida to Africa! #gonow21 #txbsm21

@jordan6villa Had a great @TexasBaptists executive board meeting!

Texas Baptist Men May 24, 2021

texasbaptistmen Where people are hurting in Israel, TBM partners have sought to meet needs with TBM kitchens and additional supplies. We are thankful they are safe as well as for the ceasefire. May God move in a mighty way across the region. #disasterrelief #Israel #partner #teamwork #Texas #volunteer

In May, conflicts in Israel left buildings destroyed and many lives shattered. To help those affected, Texas Baptist Men (TBM) partnered with Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP). EVP was able to use TBM mobile kitchens to provide meals. People from all backgrounds and beliefs received nourishing food through this partnership.

TBM first entered into partnership with EVP in 2018. Since then, TBM has provided mobile kitchens, created a deployment team for Israel and trained local volunteers to serve their communities.




By Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager

In 1946, four young men from Baylor University traveled to Hawaii to hold a youth revival in Honolulu. That trip was the catalyst for Texas Baptists student missions, and 75 years later, Go Now Missions has sent 12,455 college students to the ends of the earth, spreading the gospel wherever they go.

Ambitious beginnings That first trip to Hawaii started when Rev. and Mrs. Victor Koon, who were missionaries to Hawaii, heard about the Waco Youth Revival, which had seen 500 public commitments to Christ. They asked W.F. Howard, director of the Department of Student Work at Texas Baptists if a student team could come to Hawaii during the Christmas holidays to host a similar youth revival in Honolulu. The Pearl Harbor attack five years prior had rocked Hawaii, and there were less than ten struggling Baptist churches there. The Koons hoped a youth revival would bring hope back to the islands. Howard agreed, and four of the students, Bo Baker, Howard Butt, Ray (Reiji) Hoshizaki and Jackie Robinson, were chosen to go. Baptist Student Unions (BSU) across Texas and America caught onto the vision and prayed for the four men as they embarked on their journey. When they arrived in Honolulu in December, the men began covering the city with advertisements for the revival, planning radio announcements on local stations, writing articles and ads in newspapers and hanging posters on buses and cars. The revival took place over four days, and crowds showed up in droves, with more than 2,000 attending the closing service. Over 100 professions of faith were made, 144 young people rededicated their lives and 12 people made commitments to full-time Christian service.

Continuing the mission This trip laid the foundation for the BSU Summer Mission Program. In the 1950s, Texas students raised more than $152,000 to send 152 student missionaries around America and the world. Since then, the momentum has only continued to grow. The name was officially changed to Go Now Missions in 2001, but the

mission remained the same. Teams of students are sent out around the world for summer, Christmas, semester and year-long missions. On Sunday, May 23, Go Now Missions commissioned its 75th class during a ceremony at Dallas Baptist University. Three hundred and fifty student missionaries were sent out into the world to share the gospel. Among the commissioned were four students who would be going to Hawaii in honor of that first mission trip so many years ago. The students will be serving with Connections Church, a church start hoping to launch this summer. The students will help with outreach efforts, worship services, kid’s

events, and Bible studies and will be a part of carrying on the legacy that started so many years before. Brenda Sanders commended the students, saying they were part of a long line of those who have been obedient to follow the call of God. “We are here to celebrate God’s goodness and his calling,” Sanders said. “We are thankful and humble that he would choose to invite Texas Baptists and Go Now Missions to be a part of what He is doing around the world.” To learn more about Go Now Missions, visit gonowmissions.org.

Longhorn BSM dedicates new facilities to the Lord and honors those who came before AUGUST 2021 / TEX AS BAPTISTS LIFE

By Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager


On Saturday, April 17, about 35 people gathered at the new Longhorn Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building in Austin to dedicate the space to the Lord and celebrate the rich legacy of those who came before. The event was limited to a small number of in-person attendees due to Austin county COVID-19 restrictions and was also live-streamed on the Longhorn BSM Facebook page. The BSM celebrated their new facilities, the first two floors of a high-rise student apartment building close to

The University of Texas campus. The building sits on the site of the former BSM building, whose land was sold to the apartment complex in 2017. With their location now at the heart of student living, the BSM is excited to reach their new student neighbors for Christ. The Longhorn BSM was founded in 1919 and is one of the oldest BSMs in the state. The sale also provided an endowment fund that will pay for the full operations of the new building and for other BSMs around Texas.

“We celebrate God’s provision in this space where we’ve been doing ministry for 100 years and we get to see the vision and the plan for the next 100 years,” Cody Shouse, director of Longhorn BSM, said as he welcomed attendees to the event. Attendees included former Longhorn BSM directors, local church pastors, Texas Baptists staff, current and former students and others whose lives had been impacted or who had made an impact there.

Speakers also included Marcy Martinez, associate director of Longhorn BSM; Craig Christina, associate executive director of Texas Baptists; Brian Lightsey, lead pastor of Life Church; Daniel Gao, elder at Austin Christian Fellowship; David Kemerling, director of Longhorn BSM 1990-1999; and Russell Allen, lead pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church.

A great cloud of witnesses Mark Jones, director of the Texas Baptists Center for Collegiate Ministry, honored Joyce Ashcraft, associate director of the Center for Collegiate Ministry, and thanked her for her hard work in orchestrating the new building. He also announced that, after more than 44 years of collegiate ministry service, Ashcraft would be retiring in Summer 2021. Jones presented Ashcraft with a watercolor painting of the mural at the Longhorn BSM, which depicts iconic Austin scenes and the BSM. Ashcraft honored those that came before to lay the foundations of the BSM, citing Hebrews 12:1-3 as she described “the great cloud of witnesses” who made the BSM possible. “While this building is new and contemporary and dedicated to engaging students to reach people around the world, it’s because of the people that came before that we are able to be here today,” she explained. Ashcraft highlighted Richard “Rick” Spencer, who served with the BSM for 45

“His love for God’s word he instilled in all the students...He is an example to us and we want all students to know that he was one of the great cloud of witnesses that came before,” Ashcraft said. The prayer room also features a stained glass window that was saved from the former BSM building and was stored at Woodlawn Baptist Church for two years until it could be installed. Former director Dan Crawford, who served from 1976-1982, spoke fondly of the old building. He shared that a group of alumni and former BSM staff gathered at the old building the night before the demolition, sharing memories and reminiscing about the past. Most importantly, he expressed that everyone who had been a part of the BSM in the past prayed for a bright future for those who would come after them. “We, as alumni and former staff, wish for this building to be even more of a blessing for them than it was for us, for years and years to come,” he said.

Prayer for the years to come Worship was led by BSM students Dominic Barzilla, Sarah Brown and Blaire Hambrick and by David and Miranda Wall. In addition to the dedication service, attendees also prayer-walked the building, asking God to raise up students of faith. Shouse encouraged anyone who could not attend the in-person dedication to come to the building and walk through, blessing the rooms that will be used to minister to students for years to come. He emphasized that the prayer of churches, staff, alumni and students is the reason Longhorn BSM has been blessed throughout its ministry. “Why do we have a 100 year old ministry? Why do we have the space that we have and the proximity so close to campus?” It’s because people have prayed for us. For a long time people have been praying for us,” Shouse said at the end of the service. “So I ask you to continue praying for us so that we can continue doing the great work that God has called us to do on these 40 acres here in Austin.” To learn more about BSM, visit txbsm.org. Find a BSM near you and see how you can be involved in making a difference in the lives of college students in your community at txbsm.org/locations.


years and who passed away in 2017. The prayer room in the new building is dedicated in his honor, and his wife, Vicky, was in attendance at the dedication.


A journey with your Mary Hill Davis Offering® dollars to the Valley By Meredith Rose, Social Media Specialist

Have you ever wondered, “If I made a donation to the Mary Hill Davis Offering, where would it go? What would it do?”


Take a moment to go on a journey with your dollars to the Rio Grande Valley. You’ll see how your gift might impact the lives of countless people on the TexasMexico border through Texas Baptists River Ministry and Mexico Missions.


Guiding this journey is Vanessa Quintanilla-Lerma, a River Ministry missionary located in McAllen, TX, who has been ministering with local churches and serving along the border since 2001. “Working with River Ministry is such a blessing,” said Lerma. “Our goal is to be a support group for people and demonstrate God’s love in everything we do. The Mary Hill Davis Offering supports this work.”

Ministry across the Valley When you give to the Mary Hill Davis Offering®, your gift could go to support Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) or church missions work. River Ministry partners with BSMs and churches both locally and across the state to mobilize people to serve those in need of the Gospel on the Texas-Mexico border. “This spring break, students from a Christian high school from Kansas came here and we ministered with them all week. We were able to visit homes and pray with families in need,” Lerma said. “We also planted vegetable gardens, and provided food through our drive-through hunger relief ministry. Several students from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley BSM also came alongside us one day to provide a block party to reach families in our community.”

Your gift might also help strengthen churches or care for pastors who are working to bring the good news of Christ to the more than 1.3 million people who call the Valley home. Through your gifts, River Ministry provides church health resources, ministry training and financial support to pastors on the border. “These days, part of ministry is reconnecting with churches that are reopening after COVID-19. We come

“One day they will think back on what happened in their journey to this country. They might not remember me, but they will remember that I represented the Lord.” to be cared for and loved. Someone who needs to see Jesus and feel dignity and be treated like a human being.”

“Ministry also continues to look like caring for pastors who have been hit hard during the pandemic,” she said. “We were recently able to provide several gift cards to pastors and their families. One family in particular was struggling to make ends meet and had to move in with their parents. The retired couple was trying to take care of their kids, and we were able to come in and provide gift cards to bless them. Since then, they have accepted Christ, joined a church, and we continue to do discipleship.”

“We’re the welcoming committee for these families. When we provide food for them to eat or a hygiene kit for them to get clean, we are planting important seeds. One day they will think back on what happened in their journey to this country. They might not remember me, but they will remember that I represent the Lord. That might make them seek a church and fellow Christians, because they will remember that we were there loving and caring for them,” Lerma said.

Reaching the world through the Valley When you give to the Offering, your dollars might also impact the lives of immigrant families through immigration relief ministry. Since 2014, River Ministry has worked to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of refugees who come across the border with little more than the clothes on their backs. “Immigration ministry has been big this year,” said Lerma. “We have churches that are coming and being Jesus’ hands and feet through this ministry. They might not speak the language, but they understand there is someone who needs

Your gift might also travel across the border into Mexico, where River Ministry is partnering with Baylor Scott & White to provide telemedicine and virtual clinics for immigrant families on that side of the border. When we care for the physical health of families Lerma explained, they become more receptive to the Gospel. When you give to the Offering, your dollars might also go to support missionaries like Lerma who are working to build connections, provide resources and spread the Gospel every day in the Valley. “Your gifts are a blessing to me and my family. And they bless other

missionaries who are ministering every day in the field,” said Lerma. “You might not be able to go, but you can support those who can and who are already here.” All of these things and more are provided by River Ministry through your gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering®. “River Ministry is blessed by this offering,” said Mario Gonzalez, director of River Ministry and Mexico Missions. “Because you give, we can walk the extra mile with missionaries and churches on both sides of the border as they minister to people in need.” The Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions® is collected by the WMU of Texas. River Ministry is one of the many recipients of this offering. To continue the journey and see how your dollars impact Baptist missions across the state, visit, iamtexasmissions.org.


alongside and assist churches, either by equipping or by providing resources,” said Lerma.



ED STETZER Executive Director, Wheaton College Billy Graham Center



President, National Baptist Convention of America

Founder, CEO & Lead Coach, Church Answers




Executive Director, Texas Baptists

President, Texas Baptists

Western Heritage Consultant, Texas Baptists

GALVESTON ISLAND CONVENTION CENTER For more information visit txb.org/am

SPOTLIGHT It is exciting and humbling to be called by God to minister in His church. It is an honor and a blessing to receive such a calling but that does not mean it’s easy! In fact, recent studies show that ministers face an array of challenges today that can greatly damage their health and severely neutralize their effectiveness. A minister’s job is difficult enough if family, finances, and the minister’s personal health (both physical and emotional) are all in good shape. It becomes exponentially more difficult when one or more of those areas are not strong and healthy. The Center for Ministerial Health (CMH) understands the challenges that ministers face today and is expressly equipped to help. Many Texas Baptist churches are led by a bivocational minister, so the CMH has a Director of Bivocational Pastors Ministry that understands their unique needs. The CMH has a Western Heritage Consultant that relates directly with those ministers who serve our cowboy churches.

Furthermore, we have ministries designed to help pastors from all different churches and backgrounds. Finances can be a huge area of concern for many ministers, so the CMH has a Financial Health Team that can provide financial education, monetary grants and low interest loans for ministers in need. This past year the Pastor Strong Initiative has provided specialized instruction on physical health and fitness. The CMH also provides Counseling Services for ministers who are experiencing personal or familial problems. Finally, Area Representatives are in every region of the state, building relationships with Texas Baptist ministers and making them aware of the many ministries and services available to them through the CMH and Texas Baptists. The CMH is here to serve our Texas Baptist ministers so they can be all God has called them to be.

en c ecn t etre rforfor

By Dowel Loftis, Director of the Center for Ministerial Health


Connecting, refreshing and encouraging churches and pastors


By Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager


Area Representatives are the boots on the ground for Texas Baptists. They spend the majority of their time on the road, driving to various churches in their regions, and responding to needs each day. Last year alone, the nine representatives made approximately 9,500 contacts with church leaders across Texas. So, when the pandemic hit, they had to make adjustments to continue supporting their churches. Reflecting on the past year, Tim Watson, Area Representatives director and Area 7 Representative, explained that there

was a big learning curve for everyone, including the Area Representatives, as churches switched to online services and giving due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were limited in what we could do because we usually do face-toface interactions, so we had to take precautions and make a lot more calls, in order to help them get set up with

virtual services,” Watson said. “We had to get out of our comfort zones.” Offering support to pastors burdened with decisions about mask policies, in-person services and other pandemicrelated decisions became an important part of their ministry. There was no protocol for a situation like the pandemic, and pastors often found themselves stuck in the middle as groups argued over what the right thing to do was. “If there has ever been a time the Area Representatives have needed to be a pastor to the pastor, it was this year,” Watson said.

SPOTLIGHT churches as they go through the process. This can include coaching them through the interview process, ensuring candidates go through the proper background check and helping them navigate benefit packages. “The loss of a beloved pastor can be very hard on a church, and having an encourager and a helper can mean so much to them,” Knippa explained. “So that’s one way we can really be valuable to them.”

Celebrating God’s work in the local church

For many Area Representatives, helping pastors facing burnout is a crucial part of the job. To combat burnout, many of them have compiled a “pulpit supply list” of local preachers and speakers who can preach for a Sunday to give the pastor a break from preparing sermons. Area 3 Representative Joe Aguilar served on staff at First Baptist Church of Weslaco for 13 years, so he understands the needs many pastors are facing. He explained that many pastors are preaching not only a Sunday morning sermon, but also teaching a Sunday school class, sharing a Wednesday night message and handling all of the other things going on in the church body. Giving them a break on Sunday mornings allows them to emphasize priorities other than preaching, such as administration, bereavement or visiting with church members. He also emphasized the importance of the Sabbath, a God-mandated day of rest that pastors need to observe. He tells pastors that if they allow themselves to be too worn out, they will be like a dull ax chopping down a tree. By temporarily stopping to sharpen the ax, they will be able to do more and do it more efficiently. “If you’re not recharging and resting with God, eventually you won’t be of any use to anyone,” he reminds pastors.

Pulpit supply lists are aimed at giving pastors the opportunity to sharpen themselves so that they can better serve their congregations.

“If you’re not recharging and resting with God, eventually you won’t be of any use to anyone.” Encouraging churches in transition Another important role Area Representatives play is in aiding churches going through the new pastor selection process. Kris Knippa, the representative for Area 1, explained that for many churches, the process can be overwhelming. “It’s a very complicated process that doesn’t really have a guidebook,” he said. For pastor search committees, there can be a lot of pressure and anxiety as they make the monumental decision of who will lead their church. Furthermore, if the former pastor was there for a long time, the church may not have a procedure for handling the situation. Knippa and the other Area Representatives offer support, encouragement and resources to

“One of the most rewarding parts of being an Area Representative is celebrating milestones with churches,” David Vela, Area 2 Representative, shared. “Seeing how a church has persevered for many years and reflecting on how they have made an impact on their community is a special experience to share with the congregation.” In March, Vela was able to attend the 138thanniversary celebration for New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Colorado City. “It was a special time to see how this small town church prevailed and continued to meet the needs of their community,” Vela said. During the celebration, Pastor Quincy Randall preached on Galatians 5:7, and a man in the community came to know the Lord during the celebration. Vela celebrated alongside them and presented them with a letter of congratulations from Texas Baptists. For Vela, being there to encourage and support churches is what being a Texas Baptists Area Representative is all about. “We’re running the same race and we’re here for each other,” he said. “When you’re there to really serve people, they can see it, and it makes a difference.” To learn more about Area Representatives and how they can serve your church, visit txb.org/areareps.


Providing Sabbath for pastors



Area 1

Area 3

David Vela

Tim Watson


Area 2

txb.o rg/ar




Joe Aguilar

Area 7

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Knippa partnered with Caprocks Plains Baptist Association to minister to pastors during their West Texas Pastors Retreat. He shared Texas Baptists resources with the pastors and encouraged those struggling with burnout, pandemic fatigue and other challenges.


Vela came alongside New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Colorado City as they celebrated their 138th anniversary. A man came to know the Lord during the service. “It was a special time to see how this small town church prevailed and continued to meet the needs of their community,” Vela said.



Faith Baptist Church, a church plant in Tyler, struggled during the pandemic, as members lost their jobs and fell ill. Despite the hardships, they gathered together in April to celebrate their 5th anniversary. Watson, who has preached at Faith Baptist Church before, preached the celebration sermon. “They’re doing significant work,” Watson said. “Even though they are a small church, they’re doing big things.”


Aguilar served in ministry at FBC Weslaco for 13 years before he felt the Lord call him to become an Area Representative. In his new role, Aguilar is committed to helping pastors and providing tools for them to be successful. When a pastor in Harlingen asked him if he had two preachers who could fill the pulpit for a couple of services, Aguilar was able to connect him with five people willing to serve.


Preparing for the future


By Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager



“At the end of the day, God is going to provide wherever He takes us.”

“We have a very diverse population demographics in our Northwest San Antonio community where the church is located,” Vazquez explained. “We already have many different Latino cultures in our church, like Bolivian, Peruvian and Caribbean, but we want to start reaching other ethnicities as well.” With services in both English and Spanish, Vazquez also strives to ensure that, despite the separate services, the church is functioning as one body. With over 17 years of ministry behind them, the Vazquezs recently began looking toward the future. Though they plan to continue ministering for many more years, they knew that they needed to save for retirement. They also knew they probably should have started saving earlier, but they were not completely sure how to get started.

A pastor in the Vazquez’s community Tervooren explained that retirement recommended that they look at the savings are an area of struggle for Texas Baptists website for possible many pastors. In a survey Texas resources. While on the site, he found Baptists conducted in 2018, 26% of the Ministers Financial Health (MFH) pastors said they had no retirement team. Led by Director Tammy Tervooren, savings. Sixty percent said that they the Financial Health team provides were not offered retirement benefits. support for pastors through grant funds, Tammy Tervooren, director of MFH, low-interest loans and financial literacy said that this is a huge stressor for resources. One of those grants is the many pastors. Ministers Financial Health Grant, a grant designed to help pastors struggling “We wanted the grant to be utilized for retirement because, after the survey, with debt, bills or retirement savings. we realized retirement savings was The Ministers Financial Health Grant one of the biggest problems,” she said. allows eligible Texas Baptists pastors “Retirement savings is an important and church ministers to apply for a piece of financial health because as matching grant. Texas Baptists match, much as we want to work for as long as dollar for dollar, up to $2,500 that is possible, eventually we are no longer raised by the church or the pastor. For able to, and it’s important to be prepared Vazquez, the match was provided by and cared for then.” the Pastor Strong Initiative of Greater For the Vazquez family, the grant was San Antonio, which aims to support proof that they were following the path pastors to greater health in every God intended for them. aspect of their lives. Along with the grant, Vazquez was also given access “At the end of the day, God is going to to online financial literacy courses and provide wherever He takes us, and that’s personal financial counseling. one of the things that grounds us and keeps us going and doing the things that “It really taught me a lot about finances, we do,” Vazquez shared. both personally and in the church,” he said. “The videos that we watched during the trainings and then the meetings we had with our financial advisor were so helpful.”

“I love that Texas Baptists has taken an initiative to pursue this and share resources with their pastors.” To learn more about Ministers Financial Health, visit txb.org/mfh.



26% of pastors said they had no retirement savings.



Around 60% of pastors do not receive health insurance or retirement funds from their church.



90% of pastors feel some level of financial stress in their family and church work.


For Jorge Vazquez, the call to full-time pastoring came during his time at seminary. Over 17 years later, his passion for ministry is still going strong. He has been the leading pastor of Agape Baptist Church alongside his wife, Dahlia, for the past six years. The church, which is located in San Antonio, is a predominantly Hispanic church dedicated to cross-cultural outreach and evangelism.


Cowboy Church Pastoral Center equips future church planters


By Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager


When the first cowboy churches were planted in Texas, their plan was to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ and marry it with cowboy culture. Beyond just embracing the cowboy culture, these churches seek to reach a unique group of people who might not feel comfortable walking in the doors of a traditional church building. They do this by removing many of the “barriers” that can intimidate people about conventional churches, such as dress style and formal buildings.

Texas Baptists recently celebrated 20 years of promoting and starting cowboy churches. During those years, over 190 churches have been started. But, the mission is not done yet. Western Heritage Consultant Jason Bryant is seeking to equip those called to start new cowboy churches across the state through the Cowboy Church Pastoral Center.


“The emphasis behind these centers is to equip men that are called to start churches who maybe haven’t been to seminary or had training,” Bryant explained. “We try and equip them upfront so that they will be more prepared.” Bryant decided to start a pastoral center specifically designed for those interested in starting cowboy churches. Though the topics are not all unique to cowboy church, they are often slanted towards reaching the cowboy culture. Furthermore, the speakers at these events have experience in the cowboy church world.

“Most of the things we are covering aren’t unique to cowboy churches, but I knew that guys from cowboy churches would be more receptive if there were people who were pastoring or had planted a cowboy church teaching the information,” Bryant said. “When we’re learning from others, we’d always like to learn from people who had walked a mile on the path we’re planning to walk down.” Topics include spiritual practices like discipleship and evangelism and also things like church administration, which many church starters have had limited experience with. Bryant explained that the pastoral center sessions are working to equip pastors to start lasting churches, so topics like bookkeeping and attendance records are vital to helping a church flourish long-term.

The Cowboy Church Pastoral Center meets once a month at 3C Cowboy Fellowship in Salado, and attendance is free for all. Bryant sought to choose a central location so that people from all over Texas could attend. In addition to future church starters, lay leaders and team leaders from existing cowboy churches sit in on some of the topics, like discipleship or preaching. “I believe any leader could come to this training and could learn things that will help them be a better leader,” Bryant said. For more information or to get involved, contact Jason Bryant at Jason.Bryant@txb.org

“The emphasis behind these centers is to equip men that are called to start churches who maybe haven’t been to seminary or had training.”


Bryant first heard about pastoral centers from the Texas Baptists Church Starting team, which has used them for years to train people who feel led to start churches but have had little to no formal training.


Providing rest and support through Counseling Services


By Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager


As part of the Center for Ministerial Health, the Counseling Services team offers resources to ministers and their families to keep them healthy as they do ministry. Counseling Services connects ministers and their families with counseling and referrals, marriage retreats and other mental health resources.


“Oftentimes, I think ministers are the most self-conscious and the most in need of counseling of anyone out there.”

Seeking rest and renewal It had been two years since Cedric White and his wife planted Heart Fellowship in Prosper. As a bivocational pastor, White was working long hours, and he and his wife could both feel the strain. So, when Swafford coordinated a marriage retreat for the couple to attend, it felt like a breath of fresh air. “It was literally a God-send,” White said. “We were only a couple of years in, and we already burned the candle at both ends. It was at a time that my wife and I both really needed a break.” As a Board Certified Belief Therapist himself, White understood the mental and emotional importance of taking a break and recharging. In addition to the time away, the retreat also provided counselors for the couples. White encouraged other pastors and church leaders to seek out retreats and counseling. He emphasized that it was healthy for those in ministry, as well

as people of color like himself, to seek help. Everyone needs it at one point or another, he said. “Everybody needs to take time away. Sometimes getting away to a safe haven, an area for rest and confidentiality is so important,” he said.

Finding support and wise counsel In North Dallas, Thomas Penn, lead pastor of a local church, and his wife sought out Swafford to help connect them with a marriage counselor. The Penns, who have been married for 15 years, have a healthy and happy marriage. However, Penn’s wife suffers from a chronic medical condition that caused the couple to struggle in some aspects of their relationship. The couple had tried physical health treatments and a few marriage intensives. They wanted to look into counseling, but it was costly. So, Penn reached out to Swafford. She connected them to a therapist who specialized in his wife’s condition and, through a grant, was also able to provide them with the funding to make the therapy possible. “The funding provided by Texas Baptists allowed us to take that first step and allowed us to pursue help we may not have pursued otherwise,” Penn said.

Penn explained that for many pastors, there is a taboo around receiving counseling. “Oftentimes, I think ministers are the most self-conscious and the most in need of counseling of anyone out there. We do so much pastoral counseling, and people expect us to be high and holy and to have perfect marriages, and sometimes that pushes people to a place that is unhealthy,” he explained. Penn referenced Proverbs 15:22, which says that with wise counsel, plans succeed. He explained that counseling is not about repairing something that is broken or wrong; it is about seeking out advice and striving to better oneself. “Therapy is you being intentional in pursuing an expert in your area to give you feedback on how you can do better,” he said. “The difference between a wise man and a fool in Proverbs is a wise man listens to advice, the fool ignores it. And so by definition, if we’re going to be wise as pastors, then we need to seek people to give us counsel and speak into our lives.” For more information about Counseling Services, visit txb.org/counseling.


“Healthy pastors make for healthier churches. When we are supporting pastors in their relationships, particularly in their marriages, ultimately that reflects in the way that they are able to minister in their congregations,” Katie Swafford, director of Counseling Services, said.


Keeping the balance The health and wellness coaching, a part of the Pastor Strong Initiative’s physical health emphasis, began in January and was provided at no cost to 25 pastors and their spouses. It focuses on helping them form good eating and exercise habits and reaching goals they set with their doctor through a tool called The Healthy Pastor Checklist. Before the coaching program began, Fuentes explained that the couple had already begun on a “health-kick.” But, as many people do, they struggled with inconsistency and were unsure of how to get the most out of their nutrition and exercise programs. She explained her recent lupus diagnosis also spurred the couple to be healthy.

Striving for a balanced plate AUGUST 2021 / TEX AS BAPTISTS LIFE

By Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager


“It’s been healthy to look at not just my food plate but my life plate,” Melissa Fuentes explained. Fuentes and her husband, Joshua, have been participating in the six-month-long health and wellness coaching challenge through the Pastor Strong Initiative of Greater San Antonio. They serve at Crestview Baptist Church in San Antonio, with Josh serving as senior pastor and Melissa leading the children’s ministry.

Misty Heifrin, their health and wellness coach, was able to help Fuentes create a diet that avoided foods that maximized her lupus symptoms. But even though she stuck to the diet, Fuentes was not seeing the change in symptoms that she hoped. That was when Heifrin suggested she adopt not just at a balanced food plate, but a balanced “life plate.” A balanced life plate, Fuentes explained, means not being so overwhelmed that one new addition would send the whole

SPOTLIGHT plate tumbling. With homeschooling, taking care of an elderly grandmother, running the children’s ministry and more, Fuentes realized that she was, in fact, close to breaking her plate. So, she cut down on some of her extra responsibilities and emphasized her own health, and soon she saw those promised results.

Focusing on holistic health The Pastor Strong Initiative is focused on the holistic health of pastors and was launched to help pastors in the San Antonio area address spiritual, physical, mental and emotional and financial areas. It came out of a partnership with the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio, who gave $1 million for the five-year initiative. Ben Hanna, director of the Pastor Strong Initiative, explained that it was all about strengthening and lifting up the pastors who have so faithfully served and sacrificed to spread the gospel. “These are our guys, these are our Texas Baptists pastors,” Hanna said. “We’re trying to help these pastors. Pastor Strong gives them a platform of support and friends they can be real with and also gives them a platform for holistic health.”

A Pastor Strong Retreat held in May gave pastors and their spouses a chance to focus on all areas of their health, with opportunities for exercise, spiritual reflection and rest available throughout the retreat. Workshops were held over

different areas of life and ministry. Pastors and their spouses also used the time to connect with others like them, who understand the unique challenges and rewards of ministry. “In order to have healthy churches, you need to have healthy pastors,” Hanna said. “We started Pastor Strong Initiative to help our pastors in all areas of their lives.” To check out a testimonial video on health and wellness coaching, webinars on diet, stress, sleep and exercise, or to learn more about the Pastor Strong Initiative, visit txb.org/psi.


Currently, the initiative is focusing on physical health, providing telemedicine services to some 50 pastors and The Whole Pastor Blog by Bobby Contreras, which is dedicated to sharing useful tips and information for pastors looking to maximize their health. In addition to physical health, the initiative has already covered spiritual health and they will be moving onto mental and emotional health in August of 2021. Each emphasis lasts between six months and a year.


Conectar, refrescar, y exhortar iglesias y pastores


Por Bonnie Shaw, Interim News Manager


Los Representantes de Área son las tropas en el terreno para los Bautistas de Texas. Ellos pasan la mayor parte de su tiempo de camino, visitando diversas iglesias en sus regiones, y respondiendo a necesidades cada día. Solamente el año pasado hicieron aproximadamente 9,500 contactos con líderes de iglesias por todo Texas. Entonces, cuando se desató la pandemia, tuvieron que hacer ajustes para continuar respaldando a las iglesias. Al reflexionar acerca del año pasado, Tim Watson, director de los Representantes de Área y Representante del Área 7, explicó que fue una gran curva

de aprendizaje para todos, incluyendo los Representantes de Área, cuando las iglesias cambiaron a servicios y ofrendas en-línea debido a la pandemia del COVID-19. “Estábamos limitados en lo que podíamos hacer porque por lo regular nuestras interacciones son en persona, por lo que tuvimos que tomar precauciones y hacer muchas más llamadas para poder ayudarlos a prepararse para los servicios

virtuales”, dijo Watson. “Tuvimos que salir de nuestras zonas de comodidad”. Ofrecer respaldo a pastores bajo el peso de tomar decisiones acerca de pólizas respecto a máscaras, servicios en persona, y otras decisiones relacionadas con la pandemia era otra parte importante de su ministerio. No existía protocolo para una situación como la pandemia, y los pastores se encontraban en medio de grupos argumentando acerca de lo que era correcto de hacer. “Si alguna vez hubo un tiempo cuando los Representantes de Área tuvieron que ser pastor para el pastor, fue este año”, dijo Watson.

SPOTLIGHT que verifican los antecedentes de los candidatos, y ayudarles a navegar los paquetes de beneficios. “La pérdida de un pastor amado puede ser muy difícil para la iglesia, y tener a alguien que apoya y ayuda puede significar mucho para ellos”, explicó Knippa. “Esa es una manera cómo podemos ser de valor para ellos”.

Celebrar la obra de Dios en la iglesia local

Para muchos Representantes de Área, ayudar a los pastores enfrentando agotamiento es una parte crucial del trabajo. Para combatir el agotamiento, muchos de ellos han recopilado una lista de predicadores locales que pueden cubrir el púlpito el domingo para dar al pastor reposo de tener que preparar sermones. El Representante del Área 3, Joe Aguilar, sirvió como parte del personal ministerial First Baptist Church de Weslaco durante 13 años, por lo que entiende las necesidades que muchos pastores enfrentan. Él explicó que muchos pastores no solamente predican un sermón el domingo en la mañana, también enseñan en la escuela dominical, comparten un mensaje el miércoles en la noche, y administran todo lo demás que esté ocurriendo en la iglesia. Proveerles reposo el domingo en la mañana permite que enfaticen en otras prioridades además de la predicación, como la administración y la visita de los miembros de la iglesia. También enfatizó la importancia del Día de reposo, un día de descanso ordenado por Dios que los pastores tienen que observar. Él les dice a los pastores que, si permiten llegar al punto del agotamiento, serán como cortar un árbol con un hacha desfilada. Al detenerse a afilar el hacha de vez en cuando, serán capaces de hacer más y hacerlo con mayor eficacia. “Si no recargan las baterías y descansan con Dios, finalmente no serán útiles para nadie”, les recuerda a los pastores.

Las listas de predicadores para cubrir el púlpito tienen el propósito de dar a los pastores la oportunidad de agudizarse para poder servir mejor a sus congregaciones.

“Si no recargan las baterías y descansan con Dios, finalmente no serán útiles para nadie.” Exhortar iglesias en transición Otro papel importante que juegan los Representantes de Área es ayudar a las iglesias pasando por el proceso de seleccionar un pastor nuevo. Kris Knippa, el Representante del Área 1, explicó que el proceso puede ser abrumador para muchas iglesias. “Es un proceso muy complicado que en realidad carece de un manual”, él dijo. Para los comités de búsqueda de pastor puede haber mucha presión y ansiedad al asumir la monumental decisión de quién dirigirá la iglesia. Más aun, si el pastor anterior estuvo allí durante mucho tiempo, puede que la iglesia no tenga un procedimiento para manejar la situación. Knippa y los otros Representantes de Área ofrecen apoyo, exhortación, y recursos a las iglesias al pasar por el proceso. Esto puede incluir prepararlos por medio del proceso de entrevista, asegurarse de

Una de las partes más satisfactorias de ser un Representante de Área es celebrar los logros con las iglesias, compartió David Vela, Representante del Área 2. Ver cómo una iglesia ha perseverado durante muchos años y reflexionar en el impacto que han hecho en su comunidad es una experiencias especial que compartir con la congregación. En marzo, Vela pudo asistir a la celebración del 138vo aniversario para New Mount Zion Baptist Church en Colorado City. “Fue un tiempo especial al ver cómo esta iglesia de pueblo pequeño prevaleció y continuó satisfaciendo las necesidades de su comunidad”, dijo Vela. Durante la celebración, el pastor Quicky Randall predicó en Gálatas 5:7, y un hombre de la comunidad llegó a conocer al Señor durante la celebración. Vela celebró con ellos y les presentó una carta de felicitaciones de parte de los Bautistas de Texas. Para Vela, el estar allí para exhortar y respaldar a las iglesias es de lo que se trata ser Representante de Área de los Bautistas de Texas. “Corremos la misma carrera y nos respaldamos unos a otros”, dijo. “Cuando servimos a las personas, ellos pueden verlo y eso hace una diferencia”. Para aprender más acerca de los Representantes de Área y como pueden servir a su iglesia, visite txb.org/areareps.


Proveer reposo para los pastores



Área 1

Área 3

David Vela

Tim Watson


Área 2

txb.o rg/ar




Joe Aguilar

Área 7

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Knippa colaboró con la Asociación Bautista Caprocks Plains para ministrar a los pastores durante el Retiro de Pastores del oeste de Texas. Él compartió recursos de los Bautistas de Texas con los pastores y exhortó a los que batallaban con el agotamiento, la fatiga debido a la pandemia, y otros desafíos.


Vela celebró con New Mount Zion Baptist Church en Colorado City al celebrar su 138vo aniversario. Durante el servicio de celebración, un hombre llegó a conocer al Señor. “Fue un tiempo especial el ver cómo esta iglesia de pueblo pequeño prevaleció y continuó satisfaciendo las necesidades de su comunidad”, dijo Vela.



Faith Baptist Church, una iglesia nueva en Tyler, batalló durante la pandemia cuando sus miembros perdieron sus empleos y se enfermaron. A pesar de las dificultades, se reunieron en abril para celebrar su quinto aniversario. Watson, quien había predicado antes en Faith Baptist Church, predicó el sermón de celebración. “Ellos están haciendo una labor importante”, dijo Watson.” A pesar de ser una iglesia pequeña, están haciendo grandes cosas”.


Aguilar sirvió en el ministerio en FBC Weslaco durante 13 años antes de sentir el llamado de Dios a convertirse en Representante de Área. En esta nueva posición, Aguilar está comprometido a ayudar a los pastores y proveerles las herramientas necesarias para tener éxito. Cuando un pastor en Harlingen le preguntó si tenía dos pastores que predicaran durante varios servicios, Aguilar pudo conectarlo con cinco personas dispuestas a servir.


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