Strengthening Churches… Strengthening Leaders… Planting Churches…
Among the Nations in Greater Charleston
Ethnic groups are becoming a significant part of our growing population in Greater Charleston. Out of the 34 people moving into our region every day, nearly 7% are of an ethnic minority. It is projected that nearly 15% of the residents of Greater Charleston outside of the I-526 loop will be of a multi-ethnic nationality by the year 2028.
Since 2016, three new ethnic minority church plants have been initiated and established in Goose Creek and North Charleston. The Charleston Baptist Association has been connecting local churches with Pastor Jerry Zapata and a team of apprentice leaders to establish these new church plants.
Two Hispanic churches have been planted and three more ethnic churches have entered the initial establishing phase: Hispanic congregation at Northwood Baptist Church, Brazilian church plant group that has met in Goose Creek and the beginnings of a Burmese Church due to the nearly 200 Burmese people living in and near Charleston. Additionally, the Asian population is expected to grow by 3% over the next few years. Work and preparation is needed to build a core team and to develop leaders to grow and make disciples.
Since 2017, Pastor Jerry Zapata has been offering biblical training to develop leaders, preachers and missionaries here in Greater Charleston. Pastor Zapata has joined in with the CBA and has created partnerships with CBA churches. There are currently 30 ethnic leaders who are meeting monthly to participate in this strategic development track.
Pastor Zapata is native to the country of Colombia and is a tenured leader who has served in vocational church ministry for over 25 years. He and his wife, Berly have made Greater Charleston their home once their first church plant was initiated back in 2016. Pastor Zapata functions as a developer of leaders and a strategic coordinator to reach ethnic minorities through planting the Gospel in communities through everyday residents of Greater Charleston who assume the call to live as missionary Christians.
The current funds raised from these church plants are directed to operating budgets and supporting outreach efforts. Presently, the majority of Pastor Jerry’s support comes from the North American Mission Board (Atlanta, Georgia). They have contracted with him because of his gifts and abilities to equip leaders and multiply churches. They are utilizing his skills to also assist ethnic church planting efforts in the Southeast of the United States.
The CBA Administrative Team has established a designated account for churches and individuals to provide support over and above regular associational giving. The purpose of these funds will provide funding support for Pastor Zapata to invest more time in Greater Charleston, provide support for apprentice leaders and interns and provide monies for training and outreach. The objective of this strategic coordinating role will help: 1) Reach more ethnic groups through training leaders and planting churches in Greater Charleston 2) Equip leaders and members of established churches in the CBA in reaching out to people of ethnicity here in Greater Charleston and beyond.