On Monday, April 17th, the San Diego Baptist Association Credentials Team approved three churches. While independent and autonomous, our churches are part of a network that believes we can accomplish more together than alone.
Center City Church, located in San Diego, California, is led by Pastors G’Joe Joseph and James Lecheler.
In 2012, God led a small team from South Carolina to Southern California to pioneer a new franchise of Campus Outreach in San Diego. As the gospel was planted and expanding on the campus, God put it on the heart of the Campus Outreach Executive team to pray for a church to be planted down south around 2016. After years of praying and waiting, this summer, with the help of Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minnesota), Center City Church San Diego is starting as a church in the making.
Lead Pastor G’Joe Joseph and family.
Although both G’Joe and Aimee came to faith in high school, their college years were their most formative, spiritually speaking. After three years in the marketplace, God called G’Joe to full-time vocational college ministry through Campus Outreach Greenville (COG). Although he left the marketplace, the marketplace never left him. In 2002, COG launched a team to begin Campus Outreach at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. G’Joe stayed in Greenville to become the Director of COG. In 2012, after settling into marriage and growing a family, the Joseph family moved to San Diego to begin Campus Outreach, San Diego.
Staff Pastor James Lecheler and family.
After nearly a decade of planting the gospel on the college campus and where they live, work, and play, the Lord has grown a church. Passing off the leadership of COSD to a trusted friend and disciple, G’Joe can now focus on shepherding the flock that God has been gathering all these years.
James and Betsy Lecheler were rooted in Minneapolis, feeling very called to their local church (Bethlehem Baptist) and neighborhood. That all changed during a trip to California in early 2020 for a wedding when James started to sense a need for the type of discipleship they had been experiencing at Bethlehem over the previous decade.
James couldn’t shake his sense, so he brought it up to Paul Poteat, who said, “That’s a little crazy because my good friend G’Joe just reached out to me about his desire to plant a church in San Diego. You two should connect.”
After the Lechelers and Josephs spent a few months connecting, praying, and getting counsel from their respective church communities, they decided to take the plunge and move towards planting a TCT church in the center of San Diego.
Iglesia Nueva Cancion (INC) was established on March 26th, 2023, under the direction of its pastoral leadership and core leadership team.
INC was a result of the labor and collaboration of its members. It was also the result of the vision that was established originally from its beginning. It was always part of its DNA, and together with the collaboration from the sending church, Kaleo Comunidad Cristiana, which currently serves in the city of Lemon Grove, CA. The current pastors of INC were also part of the pastoral team at Kaleo Comunidad Cristiana. Their vision was to plant another church in four to five years. And this became a reality in the following years after launching in July 2018.
Pastor Jonathan and Olympic Herrera.
During the pandemic, in the year 2020, God began to work in the lives of Jonathan and Olympia Herrera to pray for direction and guidance in their calling to plant a new church. After several years of praying and waiting on God to lead them, their prayers were confirmed. In 2022, a core team of young Christians began integrating and forming its leadership. Throughout 2022, INC met in small groups in homes to start the work God had prepared for them. Even before the San Diego Baptist Association recognized them as a church, they provided community outreach.
In the summer of 2022, God began to do great things and led the leadership of INC to consider planting in Paradise Hills, CA. This diverse community is within 15 miles of the US/Mexico border. According to the Census of 2020, about thirty-seven percent of the residents of Paradise Hills are of Latino descent. INC has been called to reach the Latino community but understands that the demographics are rapidly changing. Many Latinos in that community are second and third-generation, meaning that most speak English but still identify as Hispanic. INC’s mission and vision are to reach a multigenerational and multi-ethnic population of unbelievers through the Gospel and community outreach by being light and salt of the earth, as the gospel of Matthew states.
On March 26th, 2023, INC had its first official service as a body of believers in Paradise Hills. They’re a faithful church to preach the gospel, love its neighbor, make disciples, and teach the Word of God without conforming to an unchanging culture. INC is a church that maintains its vision and values and works fervently in being “transformed by the renewal of the mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
Iglesia Nueva Cancion has set its eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of their faith, and looks forward to planting another church plant in the following years.