Caldwell Hispanic Company Organizes
The Caldwell Hispanic Company was officially organized on Sabbath afternoon, Jan. 24. More than 150 attended the standing-room-only afternoon service, with more than 70 attendees signing as charter members. Leaders in the Nampa Spanish Church assisted in the service. The atmosphere was joyful, like a fiesta! Francisco Altamirano, Nampa Spanish Church pastor, led in the service, which included ordination of elders and deacons. David Prest Jr., Idaho Conference president, offered the prayer of ordination, with Altamirano translating into Spanish.
At the back of the church, where most of the members entered, was a large picture frame filled with photos of those who were being baptized that day. The baptistry was decorated with strings of lights and bouquets of fresh flowers. Preparations had been made for eight to be baptized and two to join by profession of faith. An 11th person, Isauro, came to the church that Sabbath morning ready to be baptized. Although he was not a first-time visitor, the group wasn’t aware of his decision. His co-worker, Donaldo Robledo, had been sharing the gospel of Jesus with him. The Holy Spirit was working ahead of the church members! They asked Isauro to come back that afternoon, which he did.
The baptisms began, with each candidate announced. The congregation sang a hymn after each baptism. This cycle was repeated for each of the 11 candidates. As they watched, Fernando and Ana, who had previously decided to come in under profession of faith, made the decision to be baptized instead. Prest performed all of the baptisms. Two of the young people baptized are members of the Nampa Spanish Gems Adventurer Club, and one is a member of the Nampa Spanish Gems Pathfinder Club. Seven of the group became charter members of the Caldwell Hispanic Company, while the other four become members of the Nampa Spanish Church, which is the mother church for the new company.
The company meets in a church listed on the National Historic Register. A large portion of the church’s neighborhood is Hispanic, making this an excellent place to start a church. Members have been meeting there since September. Since an unorganized group cannot borrow funds to purchase a church building, Altamirano and leaders from both Nampa and Caldwell arranged for the purchase of the building. Hispanic churches and companies in Idaho Falls, Jerome, Nampa and Payette contributed to the purchase with donations and their ability to borrow. The North Pacific Union Conference made a special appropriation of $25,000 to assist as well. The building, located at 901 Albany Street in Caldwell, needed a lot of work. The basement, which houses the kitchen, youth room and fellowship hall, has been transformed through many hours of labor provided by the members.
There is a wide range of ages, including many children and youth, in the company. In the youth room, one wall is a whiteboard. The youth present the worship service every six weeks. They keep track of their plans for the next service on the whiteboard. The youth are not just the leaders of the future — they are being mentored in leadership now.
When the idea came to plant a church in Caldwell, small groups were set up, meeting in homes first. Planting the church was very deliberate. The new church needed to grow and thrive, but not at the expense of health of the mother church. Some members were fearful that the finances of the Nampa Church would suffer. Instead, they have continued to meet their obligations. Plans are underway to develop a task force, a small core of people, who will lead out in a Hispanic church plant in the Boise area.
In his closing remarks to the newly established company, Prest shared that he anticipated organizing them into a church soon. Afterward, everyone went downstairs for a delicious meal in the festively decorated fellowship hall.