Men's Breakfast Report, December 2009
The men’s breakfast group met Saturday, December 12 with Abel Garcia, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Freeport. Abel was raised in Freeport. After his education he first became an assistant pastor at a large church in Alabama. He then served at other churches of decreasing size until he was called by First Baptist in Freeport, which had about 20 members at the time. After describing his personal history he launched into a sermon he previously gave at his church. In his sermon he used coins, pennies, nickels, dimes an quarters, as mnemonics for doctrines of the faith so people would remember the doctrines when they saw the coins. In this sermon a penny stood for the past, past sins have been forgiven. The nickel stood for now, we receive the Holy Spirit- our nature has been changed. The dime stands for destiny-hope in our future.
We then asked him about other aspects of his church, in particular the buildings. The new church building on Highway 288 is still under construction. The major work now needed is external, such as parking lots, drainage and retention ponds. He said that there was a great deal of red tape in getting plans approved because the church is between a state highway and the levée. The total cost of the new church will be about $1.7 million, some of which will require debt to finance. They hope to move into the new building by Mother’s Day. The old building, which they would like to sell, is appraised at $2.2 million. They are asking $400,000 for it. They plan to close it but have the sanctuary available for community needs. They will also continue paying the insurance on it. The possibility was raised as to converting the classroom building into condominiums, which might be useful when the marina is opened. Abel said that the architecture would make it very difficult to make this conversion, and the building eventually would probably have to be demolished.
George Roberts then asked Abel about getting his church members to tithe. Abel said that he preached that tithing is a Christian duty and that contributions are to be in addition to tithing. At one sermon he declared that if you are not tithing, you should not make any contribution. Contributions dropped considerably that week, but by the next week tithes increased enough to make up the shortfall. Most of the donations to the church go to maintaining the church but a significant amount go to outside ministries. The church does support the backpack ministry but its major outside emphasis is foreign missions. The goal for the Christmas offering is $6501 for foreign missions. The amount was chosen because a previous pastor had raised $6500 from the Christmas offering for foreign missions.
The church has about 200 members. There is a good mix of white, black and Hispanic members with no one group predominating. When Ondre Waddy left to become pastor of First United Missionary Baptist Church he took his immediate family with him but not other members. Abel said that one reason Ondre left was Abel’s sermon on Jonah. He said that Jonah was running away from God’s call, and that we also try to run away from God’s call. Ondre took this to heart and accepted the pastorate of First United Missionary Church. Abel said that he does not plan on preaching from Jonah again.
The men had an interesting discussion and an enjoyable breakfast. The next meeting will be Saturday, January 9th.