WICHITA, Kan. (BP)–As the upbeat praise service began, John Minor stood in the back of the auditorium with Bible in hand and a contented smile on his face.
Minor was waiting to preach the final sermon as pastor of Woodland Baptist Church in north Wichita, Kan. The June 27 service also marked the end of Woodland’s 45-year existence as a church.
Although some tears were shed, the service was not a funeral. Instead, Woodland passed the ministry baton to Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida.
The Hispanic congregation had been sharing the Woodland facility since December 2007 right after it constituted.
Abraham Arevalo, the longtime pastor of Nueva Vida, began working as the Hispanic church-planter strategist for Heart of Kansas Southern Baptist Association in 2008. As he settled into his new role, Arevalo began preparing Nueva Vida for a new pastor.
The two-year process of finding that pastor ended in January 2010 with the arrival of newlyweds Carlos Carreón and his wife Vicki. The alumni of Rio Grande Bible Institute in Edinburg, Texas, previously served as summer missionaries in Kansas.
Carlos Carreón led the June 27 service in Spanish with his wife at his side translating his words into English.
After the music and offering, Minor stepped behind the pulpit, with Vicki Carreón translating the sermon into Spanish.
The day was producing “mixed emotions,” Minor admitted as he began his sermon.
There was sadness because Woodland’s 45 years of service was coming to an end. But there was joy knowing the church would live on through the ministry of Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida.
“God has placed you in a community to reach people in a way that Woodland could not,” Minor told the Nueva Vida congregation.
He cited challenges that Nueva Vida will face. Among them: raising money to construct a new building — the Woodland facility is already too small for the Hispanic congregation.
When Minor came to Woodland 17 years ago, “I had great visions that we would grow a big church.” But things didn’t work out the way he planned, Minor said. Instead, God sent Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida “to carry on the work. We have the promise that He’s going to accomplish what He set out to do.”
As Minor closed his sermon, he asked Carlos Carreón to join him on the platform. Minor then presented Carreón with the keys to the church building.
Then Nueva Vida showed a video called “A Legacy of Faithfulness” about Woodland’s history. A plaque in honor of Woodland also was presented. It will be displayed in the entryway of the new multipurpose building that Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida is planning to construct on the property.
Although Minor was retiring from 40 years of bivocational ministry, he intends to keep serving the Lord through supply preaching and disaster relief. He retired from a 31-year career with Cessna on May 3.
“He’s just a wonderful, faithful servant,” Abraham Arevalo said of Minor.
As Arevalo told of how God is working, he said, “What the Lord is doing at Nueva Vida is amazing, absolutely amazing.”
Eva Wilson is associate editor of The Baptist Digest, newsjournal of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.