The primary reason Fremont Bible Fellowship is part of the Southern Baptist Convention is the Cooperative Program.
It's not just because Cooperative Program dollars helped start the church in 1988, but because of what the CP Missions endeavor stands for, pastor Horatio Jones noted.
"We try to make a difference in our community and around the world," Jones said. "The Cooperative Program is a way in which we can fulfill the biblical mandate. It's a way in which our resources – regardless of the sizes of our churches-can accomplish a common goal — of going into all the world and preaching the Good News that God loves all people.
"The Cooperative Program is the very essence of the reason for the existence of the church," Jones said.
Fremont Bible Fellowship gives more to CP Missions than any other predominantly African American church in California, said Tom Kelly, recently retired strategist with African American churches in the California Southern Baptist Convention.
"From day one we've always been a strong supporter and consistent supporter of CP Missions," Jones said. "We stand with the SBC's strong commitment to reach all people and fulfill the Great Commission.
"Our philosophy is that if we teach our members to tithe, we as a church should tithe," the pastor noted.
Fremont Bible Fellowship expresses in a variety of ways its strong commitment to minister in its community. It has started or sponsored seven new churches in its fifteen years, and the pastor is mentoring six pastors and church leaders. All the while, the congregation has maintained nearly a 20 percent commitment of its budget to missions.
The church started with a core of about twenty-five people from Emmanuel Baptist Church in nearby San Jose, California. Today about 900 people attend two Sunday morning worship services (and two Sunday Schools), plus separate children's and youth services.
Fremont Bible Fellowship also has a business: Holy Grounds, a coffee shop and bookstore for people who work in the area and for people who drop off and pick up their youngsters from the church's daycare and preschool. In addition to seventy-five youngsters in those ministries, the church's volunteer-led after-school programs draw about seventy-five elementary students and 115 junior and senior high school students for tutoring, life skills and activities.
It's all part of Fremont Bible Fellowship's faith-based Tri-Cities Community Development Center (CDC), which focuses on the felt needs of people in the community and people in transition. The CDC also offers job training, computer training, clothing, food, and training for parents in anger management, parenting skills, health, and hygiene.
But reaching people is not just a local effort, Jones learned when he went on a mission trip to the Philippines.
"That tremendously impacted my life," the pastor said. "When you see the commitment of people across the world, it humbles you, given the lack of commitment in ours." The church's youth regularly go on mission trips — two last year, including one last Christmas to an orphanage in Tijuana. Adults this year will start going on mission trips, focusing at first on Mexico because of the strong Spanish-speaking contingent in the church's ministry area.
"We have a mission field right in our backyard," Jones said. "We'll be launching a Spanish-speaking ministry that's part of our church." Fremont Bible Fellowship's missions emphasis on Mexico will be strengthened by the addition of Spanish-speaking members, and the Spanish-speakers will be encouraged by the church's commitment to Mexico and to being a church that reflects the community's ethnic makeup, the pastor explained.
Today, Fremont Bible Fellowship has a ministry council that handles the calendar and budget in such general areas as family, children, youth, worship, and missions. Two people from each ministry area serve on that council.
The council and the congregation are following Jones' lead as strong supporters of the Cooperative Program. Jones also leads the pastors and church leaders he mentors to make the Cooperative Program an important part of their missions giving.
"We firmly believe the more you give to God, the more He gives to you," Jones said. "God enables us to reach people, continue to grow, continue to impact lives in part because of our faithful giving, just as He does for the faithful believer."