New CBF partner churches in Oklahoma reach diverse population

By Alison Wingfield, CBF Communications
Monday, September 17, 2007
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ATLANTA – CBF of Oklahoma is reaching out to the unique cultures of cowboys, immigrants and suburbanites with three new church starts.

"Starting churches is a big part of who we are," said T Thomas, coordinator of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. "CBF Oklahoma is small. If we’re going to grow, we’re going to have to continue to start churches."

Hispanic church planting project

Starting in August 2007, CBF Oklahoma-Kansas began a partnership with the Fellowship and bi-professional pastor Manuel Perez to plant three new Hispanic churches in the panhandle of Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas. The area has experienced a population shift with the influx of a number of Hispanic immigrants. These new church starts will probably be small group cells, or home churches.

"We are trying to reach the first generation," said Bernie Moraga, Hispanic initiative consultant specialist for CBF. "We have found that Hispanic (immigrants), especially first generation, respond better to a setting called home."

Perez, who lives in Ulysses, Kan., has had a wealth of experience, having started more than 25 similiar churches.

"He is a bit of a Hispanic apostle Paul," said Thomas. "He’s always looking at that next town, always getting correspondence from other places. He has the vision and the heart of a church planter."

Reaching the suburbs

As Norman and Oklahoma City converged, with new growth in northern Norman and southern Moore, the need for a CBF presence presented itself. With funding help from CBF, CBF Oklahoma conducted a demographic study and then began a church plant three years ago. A group from First Baptist Norman joined this mission church and soon NorthHaven was born.

The church, now 150-members strong, hired Mitch Randall as their first full-time pastor in January and held their first services on September 2 in a brand new facility which they built debt-free. This new church is determined to be mission-minded.

"The basis of who we are is built on two pillars: missional awareness and an emphasis to do missions, and to be truly Baptist in all that we do and are," said Randall. As part of its strong mission emphasis, NorthHaven partners with local food banks, assists low-income students who don’t have enough to eat by providing backpacks with food to take home on weekends during the school year, and sent a group to Ghana to do missions work this summer.

Cowboys still a hallmark of Oklahoma

Cowboys continue to be a distinct culture in Oklahoma, with the need for a distinct way of worshiping. Despite recent flooding of their new church home, Cowboy Country Church of Chickasha, Okla., is reaching those who would otherwise not be in church.

"When you think of Oklahoma, you think of the Western Cowboy Museum in Norman. You think of Will Rogers. Oklahoma is an ideal place for a cowboy church start," said Phil Hester, CBF’s church starts specialist.

Cowboy Country Church is sponsored by CBF of Oklahoma, the Fellowship and First Baptist Oklahoma City. Lynn Walker is their bi-vocational pastor. After one year, they have more than 50 members and attendees.

After experiencing flooding from Tropical Storm Erin, members of First Baptist and NorthHaven joined alongside church members to help clean the church’s damaged building.

CBF Oklahoma understands that starting churches is the best way to share the gospel, Thomas said.

"We’ve built on the CBF national motto, being the presence of Christ in Oklahoma and the world," he said.

To learn about partnership opportunities with CBF church starts, call (800) 352-8741.

CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

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