Around the State: Baptist Temple in San Antonio recognized

San Antonio Councilwoman Rebecca Villagran (sixth from left) and Mayor Ron Nirenberg (fifth from right) presented Pastor Jorge Zayasbazan (sixth from right) and members of Baptist Temple the Compassionate San Antonian Award. Also pictured are (left to right) Billy Palmer, Karen Newman, Robert Newman, Jonathan Clark, Melissa Baxter, Clinton Blumberg, Cathy Blumberg, Louise Stutteville and Ann Helmke. (Photo / The City of San Antonio)

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San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg presented the Compassionate San Antonian Award to Pastor Jorge Zayasbazan and members of Baptist Temple in San Antonio. The award recognizes individuals who serve the community through acts of kindness and compassion, making a difference in the lives of others. Baptist Temple was nominated along with several District 3 churches by Ann Helmke, the City of San Antonio’s faith-based initiative liaison. The city recognized Baptist Temple for the innovative ways it has used its inner-city campus to meet the community’s spiritual and physical needs. Services include a charter school, an early learning center, a thrift store, a food pantry, a prison ministry, a performing arts ministry, crafts classes, support groups and counseling. On Sundays, six congregations meet at the Baptist Temple campus, including one congregation that worships in Spanish and one in American Sign Language. Baptist Temple also has launched an initiative for children ages 9 to 14 designed to break the cycle of generational poverty. The church also built an inclusive playground to enable children with special needs and children with typical abilities to play together.

David Griffin, Baptist Student Ministry director at East Texas Baptist University, and ETBU junior Jerry Villela baptize ETBU senior Jamarcia “JC” Banks. In conjunction with Island Baptist Church, 500 college students celebrated his decision to follow Christ on one of the major party beaches on the island.

Students from around the state involved in Baptist Student Ministry traveled to South Padre Island during spring break as a part of Beach Reach. Through the annual Texas Baptist evangelism initiative, college students share the hope of Jesus as they provide free food and transportation to beach visitors. The Beach Reach volunteers provided 19,552 rides, served 11,495 pancake breakfasts, prayed with 11,327 vacationers and engaged in 10,239 gospel conversations, resulting in 112 students beginning a relationship with Jesus and 52 recommitting their lives to Christ.

A student from Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing checks the pulse of a woman in Peru during a recent mission trip.

Six students from the Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing joined with 19 students from Baylor University’s Medical Service Organization on a medical mission trip to Peru during spring break. The group worked with Operacion San Andres to offer a health clinic to the underserved populations in Collique, a shantytown on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. In one week, the 25-member team conducted health screenings for 370 people, ranging in age from 6 months old to 94 years old. Baylor students also provided educational sessions for children who visit Operacion San Andres daily after school. The Baylor group led five 90-minute sessions in three classrooms with 30 children each, ages 7 to 12 years old. They also led a session for the children’s parents, teaching 42 adults.

Buckner International and the U.S. Department of Agriculture partnered to host a listening session in Alamo on March 28 to discuss how to promote agriculture and rural prosperity. Randy Daniels, vice president of program development and support for Buckner Children and Family Services, and Mike Beatty, USDA director of the office of partnership and public engagement, facilitated the conversation where local leaders shared about needs in the Rio Grande Valley, and the group discussed ways to promote economic development in the area. Representatives from First Baptist Church in Edinburg and Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative participated in the listening session, along with various Rio Grande Valley civic and educational organizations. The Rio Grande Valley is home to the highest poverty, child poverty and hunger rates in the nation, heightening the need for economic development and opportunity.

Christians from varied backgrounds pray together at Marshall United, held on the East Texas Baptist University campus. (ETBU Photo)

East Texas Baptist University, in partnership with Truth Infusion Ministries and Soda Lake Baptist Association, hosted the inaugural Marshall United event on March 23 in Baker Chapel of the Ornelas Spiritual Life Center. Nearly 200 East Texas churches representing varied racial and ethnic backgrounds gathered for a night of worship led by David Markham and Truth Infusion Worship.

Brent Taylor, pastor of First Baptist Church in Carrollton, delivers a lecture to Dallas Baptist University students at Monticello. (DBU Photo)

Dallas Baptist University student groups traveled to Washington, D.C., New York City and two locations in Arkansas during spring break for educational and service opportunities. The group who visited the nation’s capital visited the White House, the National Cathedral, Arlington National Cemetery, the Museum of the Bible and several other museums. At monuments and historic sites, they heard lectures by Adam Wright, DBU president; Dale Meinecke, director of the Master of Arts in Leadership program at DBU; and Brent Taylor, adjunct professor and pastor of First Baptist Church in Carrollton. Students who traveled to New York volunteered at The Bowery Mission and Street Life Ministries, serving the city’s homeless population. They also worshipped at Hillsong Church NYC, attended a jazz worship service at Redeemer Church and visited various tourist attractions. Student volunteers in Arkansas worked on Habitat for Humanity building projects in Van Buren and Fort Smith.

Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil will speak at Hardin-Simmons University on April 5 as part of the Lawrence Clayton Poets and Writers Speaker Series. Nezhukumatathil, professor of English at the University of Mississippi, will participate in a question-and-answer session from 3:30 to 4:30. A poetry reading is scheduled at 7:30 p.m., followed by a reception and book signing at 8:30 p.m. Her published books of poetry include Oceanic, Lucky Fish, At the Drive-In Volcano and Miracle Fruit. All events—which are free and open to the public—will be in the multipurpose room of the Johnson Building on the HSU campus.

Juan Carlos Esparza Ochoa, a scholar who has researched and taught about religion in Latin America for nearly two decades, joined the Baylor University faculty. Esparza Ochoa was named director of the Program on Religion and Latin America Studies in the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor. He also will serve as research assistant professor in both the institute and Baylor’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. From 2011 to 2018, Esparza Ochoa managed data for the global religious demography projects housed at the Pew Research Center. He is the co-director of the Project on Religion and Economic Change, where he measures the impact of Protestant and Catholic pastoral care, missionary activity and humanitarian work on education, health, economic development and political outcomes around the world.

The Howard Payne University Woman’s Club will host its annual Yellow Rose Scholarship Luncheon on April 11, with area businesses and individuals serving as sponsors. The ticketed luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Bullion Suites of HPU’s Mabee University Center.

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Pam Erickson, HPU alumna and author of You First, Me Second … Getting to the Heart of Social Responsibility, is the featured speaker. Erickson oversees Operation Blessing’s procurement and corporate relations staff in the daily acquisition of food, medical and relief supplies for both domestic and international programs. Luncheon tickets are $25, and space is limited. Tickets are available at HPU’s office of alumni relations and the university’s business office or click here. For information, call Nikki Donathan at (325) 649-8013 or Sareta Delgado at (325) 649-8048 or email

“Creativity in the Classroom” is the theme of Houston Baptist University’s annual Writers Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 27, in the University Academic Center on the HBU campus. Jayme McGhan, dean of the HBU School of Fine Arts, and a noted playwright, will deliver the keynote address, “High-Impact Storytelling in the Classroom (or How to Be More Interesting Than Your Students’ Smartphones).” The family-friendly conference is designed for educators, seasoned writers and beginning writers. Four hours of TEA-recognized Continuing Education Units hours are available for educators. Session topics include: “Using Media Well,” “Deliberate Practice and Creative Pedagogy,” “Narration: Path to Writing Fluency,” “Processes for Preparing Students for College-Level Learning,” “Memory Blueprint: A WITS Writing Experience” and “Teaching the Analytic Essay through Film.” The cost is $30 for general admission and $50 for CEU credit. To register, click here.

Students from East Texas Baptist University traveled to Birmingham, Ala., during spring break to participate in the national Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge. Led by Scott Stevens, dean of spiritual life, the ETBU students earned service credit hours while being involved in hands-on mission work through home construction and rehabilitation.

Hardin-Simmons University will host a National Day of Prayer breakfast in cooperation with BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene and Hendrick Health System at 7:30 a.m., May 2, in the Mabee Gym on the HSU campus. For more information, contact or call (325) 829-0364.

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