Roger Tapia sat in the back row at Concord Baptist Church’s Habersham County campus. He was translating, word-for-word, in real-time, the sermon being preached by the Rev. Levi Skipper on a screen at the front of the room.
The Rev. Randy Williams was sitting in the front row and overheard his friend translating the message to the family in the back. That was all the confirmation he needed to know the church was making the right decision in starting a new bilingual campus at Concord’s Demorest location.
Concord Baptist Church
Locations: 250 Alabama St., Demorest; 640 Main St., Clermont; 1312 S. Chestatee St., Dahlonega; 52 Helen Highway, Cleveland
“We did a good bit of research on it, and the spanish-speaking population has been steadily growing in Habersham over the years,” said Williams, the campus pastor in Habersham. “It was pretty crazy the percentage growth each year.”
He said the church hopes to have Concord Bilingual Campus launch in January, and said it won’t just be an additional service as other churches do. Concord is creating “two distinct campuses” in Habersham, though they’ll share the same building.
They’re working out a few details like when Concord Bilingual will meet. They want to make sure the time of day is “culturally relevant” for the Latino community.
And the bilingual church will be just that: bilingual. Williams said the sermons will be in both English and Spanish, as will the worship. Williams said from what church leaders have heard and seen, many third-generation Latino families prefer having a service in both languages. That way, everyone in their family can understand and attend services together.
Concord members take trips to Ensenada, Mexico, frequently and that’s really where the relationship with Spanish-speaking communities began. They conduct different types of mission work while there, and in June, will take 62 people on another mission trip. Williams said, “there’s a real heart for the Hispanic community” at Concord, which is a big reason the church felt ready to create a new bilingual campus.
“We’ve been praying about it for probably around a year, maybe more,” Williams said. “And there has not been a single ‘no’ since we’ve prayed about it. So we’re really pretty confident.”
Tapia is doing his part by helping reach the Latino community in Habersham, inviting families to different events at the church and making sure invitations and information about the church are translated into Spanish. He said there is “a big need for outreach” in the Latino community. As soon as he saw that need, he didn’t hesitate when asked to help start Concord Bilingual.
He said there aren’t a lot of Spanish-speaking congregations in Habersham, so bringing a new one to the area will help bring the community together.
“There’s’ been a whole lot of prayer in it and we just really feel like God’s orchestrated this and led us to this,” Williams said.