More than 400 Southern Baptists and guests gathered on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, during the 81st anniversary of the founding of the San Diego Southern Baptist Association (SDSBA). The Lord has truly blessed the Association. It started with three churches and now with more than two hundred churches and missions. Located in the southwest part of the United States, the Baptist Association has been faithfully sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in San Diego since April 1942. The Association planted an average of 4.2 churches in the last 81 years in San Diego, a border city of Tijuana, Mexico, one of the largest cities south of the border. According to the current report, “Tijuana, with a population of 1.8 million, is the largest city in the region, while San Diego is the second largest, with a population of 1.4 million.”
The historic gathering started with contemporary worship led by the students of the California Baptist University Band and Ensemble. Following a warmed welcome by Pastor Manny Sanchez, Shadow Mountain Community Church, Dr. Mike, and Judy Carlisle welcomed everyone in attendance. Mike’s first agenda was recognizing the six “Champion churches” in the Association. Following their brief, grateful comments, Mike introduced Pastor Roland Slade, SDSBA Executive Board Chairman.
Pastor Slade led a moving service remembering the legacy of Pastor Jack Rickman and Pastor Henry Peterson. Rickman and Peterson, faithful pastors and longtime supporters of SDSBA, were promoted to heaven in 2023. We prayed for comfort for the Rickman and Peterson families at the conclusion of this portion of the program. Current pastors and spouses were also recognized for their servant spirit and faithful service.
The business session was expeditiously and professionally handled by Pastor Slade. It was one of the most positive and profitable God’s business meetings we attended. The key to the success of the meeting was the hard work of the Executive Board Members prior to the annual meeting.
“Advancing the Gospel” was the theme of the Association. From the Leadership standpoint, Pastors Rolland Slade and Phil Herrington shared the annual report. They were followed by Pastor Pete Ramirez, Executive Director of CSBC, reporting on the State level. Dr. Nate Landis, CEO of Urban Youth Collaborative, shared an eye-opening, inspirational video with everyone in the ministry among the high school students. Neal Kendrick, Director of CA Disaster Relief, reported the successful deployments of volunteers and made a plea for more DR volunteers.
Missionaries Elmo and Kat Compton, Executive Director, Centro Shalom, Mexico, motivated everyone to keep on sharing the gospel beyond our border. Julie Hayden, CEO of ECTLC, encourages you to keep supporting the Restoration Ministry located in East County, San Diego. Mark Engelsdorfer, BGEA, presented an encouraging invitation to come and join the “God Loves You, Frontera Tour” training and the major event on March 9, 2024, in Chula Vista, CA. Franklin Graham is scheduled to share the gospel. Ernest Ong, VP-CFO, concluded the “Advancing the Gospel” report encouraging each church to take advantage of the valuable offers by the California Baptist Foundation.
The highlights of the 81st Anniversary were the 60th Wedding anniversary and 50 years of service in the ministry of Dr. Mike and Judy Carlisle. A.B. Vines, Pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego, made a dramatic entrance and surprised Judy during the renewing of their wedding vows. Vines led to the renewal of the vow, prayer, and the charge. Jason and Eric Carlisle, children of Mike and Judy, made touching remarks on their parents’ positive influence and faithful ministry.
The annual weekend event was an enormous success. It was a time well spent honoring the Lord. We ended the meeting with a fellowship meal with wedding anniversary celebratory cakes provided by the Baptist Foundation and churches. It has been a long Baptist tradition that brothers and sisters in Christ share a meal together following a service or meeting. I saw lots of camaraderie among friends and Baptist family members during the fellowship time. There was a sense of spiritual renewal among like-minded believers. They valued the necessity and continuity of advancing the gospel in San Diego City, County, Country, and beyond.