Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 with comments from Bob Sena, Hispanic relations consultant for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. An earlier update noted Felix Cabrera’s volunteer, nonpaid and interim status as executive director.
ARECIBO, Puerto Rico (BP) — Felix Cabrera is the new executive director of the Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico, he confirmed to Baptist Press Thursday (Dec. 6).
The executive board of the Convención de Iglesias Bautistas del Sur de Puerto Rico (CIBSPR) asked Cabrera to fill the executive post after the group met this week.
“I think that the Lord is doing something special here, and I’m glad, honored, to be part of what the Lord wants to do here in the island,” Cabrera told BP. “I think we are in a special moment. We have a special momentum.”
Bob Sena, Hispanic relations consultant for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, expressed pleasure upon Cabrera’s election.
“I am thrilled by widespread enthusiasm expressed on Facebook, in text and phone (calls) about the election of Felix Cabrera as executive director,” Sena said today (Dec. 7). “I call for Hispanics in the SBC to join me in congratulating, praying for and committing to support Felix Cabrera in his very important and strategic role as executive director.”
Cabrera will perform the executive directorship in an interim volunteer, nonpaid capacity. He is also a NAMB Send missionary and second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jorge Alvarez, pastor of First Baptist Church of Arecibo, served as the CIBSPR acting executive director before Cabrera’s appointment.
Sena said he joins Ken Weathersby, SBC vice president for convention advancement, in praying “that God will use Pastor Cabrera’s passion and commitment to evangelism, church planting and leadership training to expand God’s Kingdom and the work of” CIBSPR.
CIBSPR held its first annual meeting since Hurricane Maria Nov. 17, electing a full slate of officers and a board of directors. CIBSPR has a new and aggressive plan to serve local churches and pastors, Cabrera said, and to work cooperatively with the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
“I’m excited to work with the new board of directors and with the pastors, with the church planters,” Cabrera said. “I’m excited to see a combination of new pastors and veteran pastors working together in the same spirit, in the same faith, with a spirit of unity.”
As executive director, Cabrera said, he will first meet with pastors, learn the welfare of leaders and families, assess the condition of CIBSPR churches, and determine the best ways to serve and help Southern Baptists and their ministries on the island.
Giving more generously to the SBC Cooperative Program is also a goal, Cabrera said.
“Every church in Puerto Rico made a commitment to give more to the Cooperative Program,” Cabrera told BP. “We in Puerto Rico, in the last year, evidenced the benefits, the blessings to be Southern Baptists,” he said, referencing Southern Baptist disaster relief and compassionate ministries to pastors and churches there following the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria.
“We want to encourage our churches, our pastors to give more to the Cooperative Program,” he said. “We want to be more involved … in SBC life.”
Cabrera talked to BP from Puerto Rico and is in the process of relocating to the U.S. territory, the place of his birth. He will preach his last sermon as pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Dec. 23.
Cabrera is also searching for a home for Iglesia Bautista Ciudad de Dios, a CIBSPR member and mission congregation he is currently planting on the island.
Nearly 80 churches comprise CIBSPR. See BP’s Nov. 29 story on the group’s 2018 annual meeting.