Preparing for Worship

by | Feb 23, 2024 | Preparing For Worship

Today, 11 Wilshire members are worshiping alongside Primera Iglesia Bautista de Río Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico. First Baptist Church Río Piedras is a historic congregation. Established in 1899, it was the island’s first Baptist church and at one time its largest. Today they celebrate their 125th anniversary, and what a joy it is that we, by extension, get to celebrate with them.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship strengthened ties with churches in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria decimated the island in 2017. Maria completely destroyed the island’s power grid and left nearly half a million homes damaged or in ruins.

FBC was approached by the Red Cross to serve as the agency’s headquarters during the initial phase of relief, and the church unanimously agreed. In order to do so, the congregation removed all the pews from the sanctuary and replaced them with cots, mucking buckets and pallets of bottled water. Many members have called this a pivotal point in the life of their congregation.

They knew they needed to be more involved in the restoration of their communities and as a result were trained by Baptist Men of North Carolina to lead a sustainable disaster relief program after BMNC left the island. Since then, FBC has received thousands of people and has connected teams like ours to families who are still rebuilding their lives and homes five years later.

According to church member and groups coordinator Zulma Zalaba, this effort has completely changed the DNA of their church. They now, she says with a beaming smile and so much pride, are more attuned to the needs of their community and are bearing witness in places they never would have imagined.

This week our team will be replacing the roofs of two homes for families who have been working with a community social worker. Please keep the team, the families and the congregation of FBC Río Piedras in your prayers. We look forward to sharing with you the stories that emerge from a week of hard work and fun in the sun.