News Articles

Churches merge after realizing they can meet each other’s needs, reach their community together

FORT WORTH (BP) — At a time when many churches are closing as they try to navigate the difficulties of ministering in a post-COVID world, Pastor Philip Levant is seeing God meet the needs of two churches through their willingness to cooperate.

Earlier this year, God put it on Levant’s heart to pray that the bilingual church he pastors, then known as Iglesia Bautista La Vid (The Vine Baptist Church), could have its own building. For almost seven years the church had been meeting at Shady Oaks Baptist Church in Hurst.

In August 2022, during a prayer and connection meeting held among Hispanic pastors from the Tarrant Baptist Association, Levant became aware that Emmanuel Baptist Church in Fort Worth, another bilingual congregation, was without a pastor. While praying for Emmanuel (also known as Templo Bautista Emmanuel), Levant had the idea to inquire about the possibility of his church merging with theirs—simultaneously meeting a need for both. After several meetings and prayer, God moved in a way that allowed the churches to merge.

For Levant, who also serves as a board member for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), the work God has done thus far in the merger underscores the value of kingdom relationships.

“As a personal testimony, I can say that it is through all these connections and relationships with the Hispanic pastors at Tarrant Baptist Association, with SWBTS, and with the local churches near us that God has allowed this to emerge,” Levant said.

Levant has witnessed since childhood how God uses relationships to bless the body of Christ. He grew up in a Christian home, with his parents being first-generation Christ-followers. His father, Jorge Levant, has been a pastor for more than 40 years—39 of which have been at New Life in Jesus Baptist Church in Laredo.

Levant trusted Christ at age five after his father shared the gospel with him. He developed his talent in music in the church and, after completing graduate studies in music, God called him to pastoral ministry. So he returned to SWBTS, accompanied by his wife, Patricia, and their seven children, to pursue God’s call.

The first united worship service for the churches was Sunday, Jan. 8. During the service, congregants celebrated with songs of exaltation to God and recognized several faithful servants. In addition, a call was made to the congregation to serve and grow together through various discipleship classes. Levant delivered a message based on Psalm 37:5-6 titled, “God will deliver.” Following that first service, they decided to rename their new gathering Agape Church.

Agape Church is in a predominantly Hispanic area. The church will celebrate an official “launch” on Easter, with an invitation for the entire community to attend. “We want to go house to house to invite them to come and see what God is doing,” Levant said. In addition, the church plans to hold a Vacation Bible School for children and adults.

“God uses relationships to bless us,” Levant said. “He can open the heavens and cause manna to fall from heaven, but the normal way He works in our lives is through other people and the relationships we have. So, we need to invest in them to receive God’s blessings.”

This article first appeared in the Southern Baptist Texan.

    About the Author

  • Arlene Sanabria

    Arlene Sanabria es esposa, madre y una oradora apasionada por la enseñanza bíblica Cristo-céntrica. Su ministerio “Germinarás” está enfocado en crear contenido bíblico dirigido a la mujer para enseñarles a vivir y crecer en la Palabra de Dios. Arlene tiene un bachillerato en Administración de Empresas y un Grado Asociado en Artes Ministeriales. También tiene un certificado en Consejería Bíblica del Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). Ella apoya a su esposo en su empresa familiar y también trabaja como traductora en su iglesia, Fielder Road Baptist Church. Arlene es parte del equipo ministerial para la mujer en el Southern Baptist of Texas Convention (SBTC) para el cual también sirve como traductora.

    Read All by Arlene Sanabria ›