By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Mark Gainey says that long before he got to Fultondale, there were people with their hearts set on reaching the Hispanic community there.
And when he found that out, he was nothing but excited.
“Personally, my heart is for church planting. I was a church planter for nine and a half years before I came here,” said Gainey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Fultondale. “The demographics of this area were one of the things that drew me here — it’s so diverse. There’s always been a heart for that community in our church long before I showed up.”
The church had been running a van ministry for a while to bring in local children, and they were involved in helping local schools. They had also tried having a live translator at their services before.
‘Church within a church’
But they had never had a Spanish worship service before.
That’s where the vision of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, came into play. Since 1991 it’s hosted a Hispanic congregation that functioned as a sort of “church within a church.”
Through the years, the Hispanic church has held Vacation Bible Schools that drew in hundreds of Hispanic children, and they’ve taken international missions trips.
They’re missions minded, said Hispanic pastor Bayron “Byron” Mosquera. As he and other staff members at Dawson began to consider the great need in Fultondale for a more permanent outreach, they began to talk to the leadership of First, Fultondale, about using their space to plant another Hispanic church.
“Our congregation wants to be obedient to the Great Commission and in order to do so we are committing ourselves to preaching the gospel of salvation to the people in north Jefferson County and establishing a church in their community,” Mosquera said.
And as talks continued, it seemed to be a great fit, Gainey said.
“It was really a Godsend for us because we were wanting a way to better reach that community,” he said. “We really sped up those conversations and put it on turbo.
“To see the excitement in our people was so refreshing.”
On Sept. 9 the new church held its first worship service in the youth worship room at First, Fultondale. More than 80 people came. It’s continuing to meet every Sunday night at 5, and the church is already preparing to hold its first baptismal service in the main worship center.
“The fruit is already there,” Gainey said. “I’m just so excited to see God work.”
To partner with Dawson in this way “is exciting,” he said. “It’s about the Great Commission — about making disciples.”