Baptist congregations welcome diversity

Johanna Reyes translates during Sunday’s event. Photo by Oriana Plummer.

Women from various backgrounds united Sunday over food, ice breakers and testimonies to celebrate their common love for Christ, at Celebration Baptist Church’s United in Christ event.

Celebration Baptist Church, located in Killearn Estates, is a congregation with a mission to continue to be a group of people committed to living life in a way that honors God and sharing that light with every individual they encounter. The ministry prides itself on providing a comfortable and welcoming experience for everyone.

Jerri Chesney, the administrative assistant for adult ministries at Celebration Baptist Church, said: “We just had a vision of bringing our Hispanic ladies together with one of our church partners in Quincy, New Destiny Church. They’re an African-American church with similar beliefs. We wanted to have an event where we could bring everyone from all three of those church families together, to talk about how we could be united in Christ.”

The event started with two women asking everyone questions that would exemplify commonalities and differences that could be discussed. Every attendee was given one puzzle piece that matched another random individual’s piece to later meet someone new, and spark conversation and familiarity among each other over a few random questions.

The networking activity was followed by two worship song selections from members from Celebration Baptist Church and Celebration en Espanol. Each segment of the event and bible scriptures mentioned, were also translated into Spanish by Johanna Reyes, Celebration’s missions and Hispanic ministry assistant.

“When I came here to Celebration, I was the second Hispanic on staff. It was hard transitioning from Miami. I felt like a foreigner but then God really placed in my heart this was an opportunity for them to expand their vision. I represent those groups that they go and do mission trips for. I got a chance to get to know the ladies here, as well as leadership. I developed friendships, and after a while all those barriers and fears I had in my mind about our differences, weren’t really true.”

Three women from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds served as panelists. The panelists were all either members of Celebration Baptist Church, Celebration en Espanol or New Destiny Church.

Monica Salem, Angelica Uribe and Crystal Carter are first ladies of their ministries and spoke from that experience as well.

“We fellowship with Celebration, they’re one of our partners in ministry. They wanted an African-American woman’s perspective, and to share her testimony. I hope that with this event I’ve opened the hearts and minds of some of the women here, to be accepting of other cultures and some of the women here who may not necessarily live in their immediate circles,” said Salem, first lady of New Destiny Church.

The intimate conversation of unity and diversity evoked tears and laughter throughout the room. The panelists closed the event by connecting the audience with shared descriptions of three separate journeys to Christ, while expounding on the creative and effective ways to embrace the differences of other women who also share the same faith in Christ in their everyday lives.

For more information on Celebration Baptist Church’s upcoming events or services contact the church at (850)-893-1709