Puerto Rico Baptists Gain More Congregations After Hurricane Maria

Felix Cabrera delivered the keynote address at the 2018 annual meeting of the Convención de Iglesias Bautistas del Sur de Puerto Rico (CIBSPR), the Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico. CIBSPR photo

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico (BP) — Southern Baptists of Puerto Rico gained nine new congregations at the group’s 2018 annual meeting, held just over a year after Hurricane Maria cut church attendance by as much as a third in the U.S. territory.

“To the expansion of the Kingdom of God” was the theme as the Convención de Iglesias Bautistas del Sur de Puerto Rico (CIBSPR), the Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico, held its first annual meeting since 2016.

Newly elected president David Colón, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Logos in Santa Isabel, called the Nov. 17 meeting historic because of the newly added churches and participation that allowed the election of a full slate of officers.

In an interview conducted by newly elected assistant treasurer Andrés Laracuente, Colón said the work of Southern Baptists will likely flourish on the island.

Now Puerto Rico’s convention has young pastors who are also experienced as part of the board; they want to put the expansion of the Gospel above everything, Colón told Laracuente. Colón expressed a desire to see Southern Baptist churches in every town in the territory.

Felix Cabrera, Southern Baptist Convention second vice president and pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, Okla., spoke to guests and 96 registered messengers on the importance of unity among churches in expanding God’s Kingdom.

“Today, if we want to fulfill the motto of this annual meeting, ‘To the expansion of the Kingdom of God,'” Cabrera said, “if we want to see Matthew 16:18, that the doors of Hades will not prevail, … let’s make a commitment that there will be no space for the tribes nor the division … among the Southern Baptists in Puerto Rico.

“United, we must put the Gospel above everything and before everyone,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera, a Puerto Rican native, is relocating to the island in December as a North American Mission Board church planting catalyst. Iglesia Bautista Ciudad de Dios, a mission congregation Cabrera is currently planting in San Juan, is among the nine congregations that affiliated with CIBSPR at the annual meeting.

New churches

In addition to Cabrera’s church plant, eight other congregations affiliated with CIBSPR at the meeting, the group reported.

Completing the list of new churches, with respective locations and pastors, are Iglesia Bíblica Metro, in Carolina, pastored by Laracuente; Iglesia Bautista de Lajas, in Lajas, pastored by Francisco Santiago Cruz; Iglesia Bautista Comunidad de Gracia, Guayanilla, pastored by Junior Martínez; Iglesia Bautista El Fundamento, Catano, with pastor Fredy Toledo; Iglesia Gracia Redentora, Vega Baja, with pastor Xavier Torrado; Iglesia Bautista Resurrección, Isabela, pastored by José Ponce; Iglesia Bautista Bethel del Sur, Ponce, led by Gerardo L. Rivera; and One Church Comerío, Comerío, led by Jorge Santiago.

The new churches bring the Southern Baptist presence to about 80 churches and missions in the territory, according to SBC church profile statistics.

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Source: Baptist Press