Sunday, Oct. 28, was an historic day for Edgefield County as Republican Baptist Church hosted the commissioning service for a new “church plant” known as the Hispanic Baptist Church of Edgefield County, which will become the first church of its kind in Edgefield. In speaking with The Advertiser regarding this memorable day, Pastor Lance Thomas of Republican Baptist Church explained how this church plant’s roots can be found in the Edgefield Baptist Association’s summer migrant ministry, which has been on-going in the county for some time. While this endeavor works hard to reach seasonal workers, Pastor Thomas shared that it did not meet the needs of the growing population of permanent Spanish speaking residents within the county. Thus, three sponsoring churches, Republican, Red Oak Grove, and Providence Baptists Churches, joined forces to start this new church for these residents. This church’s focus will be on building a church home for the permanent Hispanic residents of Edgefield County. As Pastor Thomas stated, a church cannot be built upon transients.
During the commissioning service, Cristobal Negrete was also licensed to the ministry. Negrete, who came to Edgefield from a church plant in Aiken County, will serve as church planter for this new Hispanic Church.
Pastor Thomas seemed very excited about the future of this church plant but cautioned that the undertaking is really just now beginning with the transition from migrant ministry to a home group setting. As he explained, church plants normally start as small group Bible studies in a home or host church. However, this new Hispanic church has yet to find a family with which to begin the church. He said the goal of this endeavor at this point is to find a core family to be the “seedling” for the church plant and to grow the church from there.
While starting a new church, especially one with no church home or congregation, may seem daunting, Pastor Thomas voiced his confidence in the Lord and in Pastor Negrete. He was especially excited that with Pastor Negrete, Hispanics will be able to hear the Gospel in their native tongue by a native speaker. As he explained, translators have to this point been used in the migrant ministry, and while that has worked, it has left a certain disconnect from the English speaking pastors and their Spanish audiences. It is the hope that with no language barrier, Negrete will be able to better reach the Hispanic community.
Pastor Thomas also noted that Pastor Negrete will not be alone in this new ministry. Aside from the sponsoring churches, many churches within the EBA are supporting this effort. Additionally, three teams have been assembled to support Negrete and the church plant; an Accountability Team, a Prayer Team, and a Ministry Team. Each team is comprised of individuals who have devoted themselves to be available to Negrete as he begins his duties as church planter.
While the seeds for this plant are just now being sown, it is not hard to imagine with all its support, that this paper will one day soon be reporting on the growth and expansion of this new church. However, as with any new undertaking, there is always room for more assistance. Anyone wishing more information on this ministry or wishing to become involved in its efforts is encouraged to call Republican Baptist Church at 803-278-2000.