Dear Church Family,
As you may have already heard, I resigned this past Sunday night (1/5). My official resignation letter will be included with the packet of information handed out for the quarterly meeting this Sunday night (1/12). That being said, I won’t repeat it all here, but I do want to express our love for you and our thanks to you. These four years have been used by God to bless us so richly. This departure is far too soon in my mind, but I trust that this is the Lord’s design for all of us. Please know we will continue to care deeply for this church and to pray for you regularly.
Now, I want to spend the rest of this newsletter trying to prepare you for the very important upcoming quarterly meeting this Sunday night (1/12). One of the main items of new business will be more clearly defining the relationship between our church and Casa de Restauración. I freely admit to you that I have been the biggest source of confusion in this area. That has certainly not been my intention, but I am sorry for any of the ways I have not helped us move toward clarity. Hopefully, with my resignation already announced, the explanation of my convictions will be more helpful than when it may have appeared they were self-interested as pastor of FBC. So please allow me to explain very briefly where I have been coming from.
The initial idea presented to FBC over twelve years ago that led to pastor Carlos Aguilar coming on staff of FBC was for him to pastor a Spanish-speaking ministry of FBC and not a Spanish-speaking church supported by FBC. They shared our building and budget, but more than that we were members of the same church with all of our votes counting the same. When I came, I began teaching that although I would love to see us work to become one church, we really were two churches Biblically and practically—even though not on paper. That stand by me was not because I don’t want our church to be ethnically diverse or because I wanted to protect against them outvoting us or because I wanted to force them to be financially independent and thereby keep more of the money for our congregation.
Remember, having resigned I am not trying to convince you as much as I am simply trying to inform you. I can’t give the time or space here to a thorough explanation, but maybe this will prompt you to do some theological digging on your own. In the New Testament, much like “baptize” means to immerse, “church” means to assemble. That’s certainly not all church means, but that is at its root. The church is not the building—it’s the baptized believers who have covenanted together who assemble together in a building (in our case at 300 N Witte). We are two churches simply by virtue of the fact that we regularly assemble together at different times with different members in different languages with different pastors.
Again, this has been my understanding and I have sought to lead FBC to adopt this same understanding while continuing to support Casa de Restauración. Honestly, I thought we clarified this issue when we adopted our new Bylaws. Article VI on Hispanic Ministry states, “The relationship of Casa de Restauración and First Baptist Church has evolved to be similar to a mission church and a sponsoring church.” However, I now realize there is confusion over whether or not a mission church is a separate church.
It’s this confusion among FBC and Casa de Restauración that has prompted the need for clarification in this upcoming quarterly meeting (1/12). If FBC decides that Casa de Restauración is a ministry of FBC and not a church, then both memberships should be combined into one and each of their members should have equal voice in selecting the pastor search committee and calling the next pastor along with every other decision made in our business meetings. I say that not to imply anything, but to explain why the church needs to decide as soon as possible.
In conclusion, please know the desire of my heart is to see both FBC and Casa de Restauración thriving in Christ to the glory of God. Though I will not be with you this Sunday night, I will be praying the fruit of the Spirit will be clearly displayed in the ways we think through this important issue together. May we be faithful till the Day when we will assemble together with all the redeemed through the ages at the marriage supper of the Lamb where we will know fully even as we are fully known. The Lord bless you all.