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Salt Lake County – The Baptist Concern Center sits 10 minutes from downtown SLC, provides food for the needy, and so much more.
There are Bible studies, English as a Second Language classes – during which youngsters have their own Bible study – and a supportive environment where the people who come feel respected, cared about, and listened to.
It’s a ministry started 54 years ago by the Salt Lake Baptist Association. It’s also a ministry new nearly every day when people come for help who find out about it from friends, flyers, and state-supplied lists of helping entities.
“We share Jesus whenever we can,” Director Sonia Gutierrez told UI Connections. “We tell them they can have a change in their lives, and we love to see how God changes their life.”
Dora Pineda was one such person. Gutierrez has watched God change Pineda’s life. She first came for food. Gutierrez befriended her, and in time Pineda called begging for help of a different kind.
“She was going through difficult things,” Gutierrez said, diplomatic in her words despite the unvarnished testimony Pineda gave at the recent semi-annual meeting of the Salt Lake Baptist Association.
“I told Sonia, ‘Please don’t leave me alone. I don’t know how to get out of this,’” Pineda told UI Connections, as translated by Gutierrez.
Together the two Spanish-speaking women prayed to God for His help as Pineda grew in her trust in God and within four months became freed from her drug addiction.
“Now she comes every day,” Gutierrez said. “She asked if she could help, and I saw she was very honest.”
Volunteers are essential to the Baptist Concern Center’s ministry: people to move boxes from the parking lot to the nearly 5,000-square-foot building; to unpack the boxes inside the storage room; to do the shopping; to talk with clients when they first arrive, and to clean up inside and out at the end of each workday. There is also a need for someone to pick up “rescue groceries” from places not on the Utah Food Bank’s routes.
Donations of food, diapers, and home cleaning supplies also are needed, as is financial support for needed items that are not donated. This year the Baptist Concern Center served about 25,000 people.
In addition to helping shelve food as it is unloaded from a Utah Food Bank truck – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays it’s rescue groceries and baked goods from area grocers; canned food, dried food products such as rice and beans, produce and dairy items come in on Fridays – Pineda and other volunteers shop for those who come to the Baptist Concern Center between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays; and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
“We still need more volunteers every day, because every day we have a lot of work,” Gutierrez said.
The Concern Center’s food distribution process is simple and effective: People wanting food can come once a month (more often if there’s an emergency) to 1235 California Avenue – the lettering on the 1300 South side of the one-story white stucco and cinder block building says “Esperanza Viva” (Living Hope.)
Clients this year have come from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Utah, and elsewhere.
“Yes, we give food, but that’s not all,” Gutierrez said. “We are showing and sharing the love of Jesus in everything we do, every way we can.”
The clients are given a gospel message when they first come into the Baptist Concern Center. They fill out or update their application form required by the Utah Food Bank, after which they are given a ticket number. That number, along with their name and the number of people in the family, and the vehicle (which might say “bike,” “stroller” or even “walking”) is written on a square post-it note and stuck to the designated wall in the storage area.
Volunteer shoppers take the post-it notes and start filling a shopping cart with the quantity of food needed for that size family. While the shoppers are working in the storage room, the intended recipients sit on plastic chairs in the waiting room or wander around several tables on which are various brochures that might be of interest, as well as gospel tracts, and even a table of cookbooks and “healthy eating” resources.
When their name is called, if not before, the clients go back outside to their vehicle, where the shopper meets them, calling out their number while looking for the vehicle. After the client hands the shopper their number (to help make sure clients get their own order and not that of someone else with the same name) they load their vehicle while engaging in conversation with the shopper. At the Holy Spirit’s leading, those conversations turn into divine appointments.
At least 70 and up to 80 or more people come to the Baptist Concern Center Monday evenings and Saturday mornings. ESL classes start at 4 p.m. every Sunday, and the Bible Study starts at 5 p.m. Sunday
“Some who come here also come to our church,” Gutierrez said, referring to Canyons Church in Salt Lake City, where her husband, Rafael Gutierrez, is the Hispanic pastor. “We have people coming here from Salt Lake City, West Valley City, West Jordan, Kearns, Midvale, and other towns in Salt Lake County.”
Pineda is one of nine who have made a profession of faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior through their connection with the Baptist Concern Center this year. This includes Pineda’s husband.
“Rafael led him to the Lord,” Gutierrez said of her husband and Dora Pineda’s husband. “Dora loves to study the Bible. She loves to pray. She loves to learn about Jesus.”
Again, translated by Gutierrez, Dora Pineda said, “I want to tell everybody about Jesus. Jesus changed my life.”
That change started with food freely given by the Concern Center and those who help support it.
By Karen L. Willoughby
A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Salt Lake City, UT – Ron Clement was spotted kneeling in the parking lot of First Vietnamese Baptist Church Monday afternoon, November 14.
Clement is Salt Lake Baptist Association’s Executive Director.
When asked what he was praying about, Clement said he was praying his knees would hold out. Then he chuckled as he corrected himself. “No, I’m just picking up trash.”
The Vietnamese church meets at the same location – 1235 California Avenue – as the Baptist Concern Center, a food pantry sponsored for more than 20 years by the association.
A Utah Food Bank truck delivers to the Concern Center “rescue groceries” donated by several area grocers on Mondays, and canned food, dried food, produce and dairy items on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The Baptist Concern Center’s clients include people who live in downtown Salt Lake City, West Valley City, West Jordan, Kearns, Cottonwood Heights, Draper and other town in Salt Lake County, including the homeless who live in rickety recreational vehicles along 1700 South.
A shrinking – because of age and/or illness – number of volunteers help unload and shelve the food as it comes in, shop for clients as they come in and help clean up inside as well as the parking lot afterward.
Your help is needed.
If you’re 6 or older, or have young knees, you could pick up scraps of paper and cardboard outside.
If you are reasonably strong, your muscles are needed to move boxes – mostly the size of rectangular banana boxes, weighing about 20-30 pounds each, up to a maximum of 50 pounds. The Utah Food Bank truck unloads pallets with a fork lift onto the parking lot. Help is needed to carry individual boxes about 50 steps into the Concern Center’s storage area.
If you can pick up a 1-lb. package of rice, box of bakery cookies, or a can of corn, you can put items from the boxes onto shelves.
If you can push a shopping cart, you can take a post-it note from the wall, walk around the room, fill the cart with items for a family of the size indicated, and take the cart out to the parking lot where the recipient will put it into their vehicle, stroller or bike basket, giving you opportunity to have a kind or spiritual conversation, as the Holy Spirit leads.
If you can type, you don’t even need to walk! You can greet the people requesting food, explain the process, help them fill out a form (requested by the Utah Food Bank for verification purposes) and as the Holy Spirit leads, share the love of Jesus with them.
The people who come to the Baptist Concern Center appreciate the help they’re given. If you’re most comfortable silently arranging produce in the storage room, they still appreciate you, because you are helping them feed their family.
The ministry is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays; and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Client interviewing and sign-in as well as stocking and shopping cart help are needed at all these times.
Truck unloading starts about 12:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 10:30 a.m. Thursdays; and 8 a.m. Fridays. Each day the truck unloading time requirement is less than two hours. A volunteer also is needed Monday mornings to pick up donations from Chick-fil-A and Starbucks.
Handyman volunteers also are needed at the Concern Center.
“Something is always breaking down,” SLBA Dir. Clement told UI Connections. On Nov. 14, two men were onsite repairing a copier machine, and the light fixture in BCC Dir. Sonia Gutierrez’ office continually flickered.
A full article about the Baptist Concern Center is to appear in the next issue of UI Connections, but the need for help is too immediate to delay. Donations of food items – rice, dried beans, cooking oil in particular – and money to help pay for Food Bank donations, also are needed.
By Karen L. Willoughby
A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at email@example.com
Louisiana – One of the greatest challenges facing the future of our denomination centers around the lack of leaders being called out and developed through our Next Generation ministries in most of our churches. Steve Masters, BCM director at LSU, has created a website which is chock-full of resources every Pastor, Youth Pastor, College Pastor, Campus Minister or anyone else invested in the lives of young people, should know about. Honestly, EVERY Baptist church and ministry leader should know this site.
We are talking about the SBCcalled.com website. This site could immediately be helpful to you and your church as you attempt to help young people navigate a possible call to ministry.
The first thing you will see at the site is the purpose statement and it is as follow:
Welcome to SBC Called. The purpose of this website is to provide information, resources, and training for High School Students and College Students who feel called to ministry. We hope this website will help these students with their journey into ministry.
The resources are almost overwhelming. There are so many helpful things scattered around the site but the main tabs are as follows…
- Preparation – This section will help you in areas of personal preparation as you explore your call to ministry.
- Resources – This section contains resources that will be helpful in your path to ministry.
- Education – This section provides helpful information for continuing your education as you prepare for ministry.
- High School Students – This section is to help High School students with your calling into ministry.
- College Students Ministry and Missions Opportunities – This section contains information about ministry and missions opportunities throughout the SBC.
The tab titled “SBC INFO” covers information related to the IMB, NAMB, the CP, and the BFM. The site also describes the basic anatomy of Baptist life and how associations, state conventions, and our national entities serve our cooperative effort. Each of our six seminaries and every one of our over 50 Baptist-related colleges are mentioned and linked to from this site. It is literally the one-stop-shop for those who serve our high school and college students as they help our young people consider the possibility of a future in ministry.
The fact is, most of us have heard of the discouraging news related to the lack of young people entering vocational ministry. A number of our states have more churches than they do pastors to shepherd those churches.
This resource is one that will help your ministry and your church identify, encourage, and equip your young people to navigate their call to ministry. Desperately needed, this site is appreciated and ought to be regularly utilized. God had placed this burden on the heart of Steve Masters which was ultimately fleshed out in the form of this website.
Please let your ministry friends, as well as, any young people you know who might be interested in ministry know about the SBCcalled.com website and let’s pray God uses it in a mighty way.
The article was reprinted with permission from SBCVoices.com by the author, Louisiana Pastor, Jay Adkins.
Another great resource that goes along with this website is a new book launched this week (November 1, 2022) by Scott Pace and Shane Pruitt
Ministry comes with many weighty responsibilities. Ministry leaders are called to teach, serve, and lead. But in leading those under their care, there comes a moment when they recognize the future leaders under their leadership. With this recognition comes an all too familiar question: What comes next?
In Calling Out the Called, Scott Pace and Shane Pruitt answer this question by giving direction, encouragement, and a charge for ministry leaders to recognize the future leaders in their midst and do what needs to be done for the future of ministry: the calling out of the called.
For more information, checkout www.callingoutthecalledbook.com
Layton, UT – Hope in Christ was celebrated as 60 women gathered at the annual women’s conference. With worship led by Janis Walton and Pernicia Heinemann, the general session featured Janis Jelke sharing her testimony of how God moved her from the LDS faith to Himself, a more than 20 year journey as she sought truth. Special guest, IMB Missionary Tim Louderback, leader of Americas Connect, told of how God is working in Panama and encouraged all to consider serving with a mission team in Panama. Angie Webster was recognized for her service as Utah-Idaho Woman’s Missionary Union President for the past two years and Sonia Gutierrez was unanimously elected to serve as WMU President and representative on the National WMU Executive Board.
Outstanding local leaders provided breakout sessions where women were led to recognize their Hope in Christ as they face discouragement and difficult times in sessions led by Teresa Dugger and Melissa Cutrera. Other sessions focused on sharing the hope of Christ. Janis Jelke shared how to break through the LDS shell by witnessing in love. Barbara MacPeek and Christy Benson told of their experiences sharing hope with Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Building Bridges to Discipleship, led by Janice Adams and Sharing Hope through Biblical Encouragement, by Mary McFarling, completed the workshop options. Sessions especially for Hispanic women, presented in their heart language, were led by Sonia Gutierrez and Tim Louderback. Both live sessions are available on demand by following this link. https://tinyurl.com/UISBC2022WC
Article by UISBC Women’s Consultant, Mary McFarling
Layton, UT – The 2022 UISBC Pastor’s Conference featured Dr. Ray Van Neste, dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University, as the primary speaker. Dr. Van Neste led pastors through four exhortations based on 1 Corinthians 15 and the book of 2 Timothy. The title of each address encapsulates the thrust of these exhortations: Brothers, Hold Fast; Brothers, Be Bold; Brothers, Seek God’s Approval; Brothers, Fulfill Your Ministry. In addition to the messages, Zach and Andrew Thompson, members of Christ Fellowship Church of Utah County, led the gathering in worship. The conference had over 60 pre-register with even more attending on the day of the event.
The conference also included electing the President of the Pastor’s Conference for 2023 and 2024. Clint Henry, pastor of Central Valley Baptist Church, and Charles Cutrera, pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church, were elected as presidents of the 2023 and 2024 Pastors Conferences respectively. The entirety of the 2022 UISBC Pastor’s Conference can be streamed on demand from Mountain View Baptist Church’s YouTube page or by following this link.
Article by 2022 Pastors’ Conference President, Timothy O’Day