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Camp McCall Fosters Renewal for Iglesia Bautista la Roca

Camp McCall Fosters Renewal for Iglesia Bautista la Roca

After visiting Camp McCall on a pastor’s retreat with the Broad River Baptist Association, Carlos Duarte knew the place was special. 

Pastor of Iglesia Bautista la Roca, Duarte invited the church leadership to go to Camp McCall with him, asking them to plan a church-wide retreat to allow the congregation time to spend together in fellowship.

Iglesia Bautista la Roca is a multi-ethnic church with around 80 members in Gaffney, South Carolina. When Duarte first answered the call to preach at the church, they were seeking a Spanish-speaking pastor. A native Spaniard, Duarte’s first language is Portuguese, but he desired to learn Spanish. Through the help of some friends, Duarte was able to learn Spanish and began leading the church. 

Members of Iglesia Bautista la Roca attend a retreat at Camp McCall.

Experiencing Challenge and Growth

At that time, there were only about eight attendees on a given Sunday. The congregation grew by God’s grace to around 40 people in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic hit the church hard. After three church members died because of the virus, the church closed for 12 weeks. During those weeks, Duarte preached virtually and was able to reach people that they never had before.

Seeking a fresh start after a challenging period, the leadership organized a retreat at Camp McCall to rejuvenate and unify the congregation. With new growth, the leadership knew a retreat would allow the congregation time to spend together. The church hosted around 40 people at the event at Camp McCall over Easter weekend and spent time in worship, teaching, and fellowship. 

The church held a sunrise service on Easter Sunday.

Embarking on a Retreat

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Camp McCall provides an ideal setting for a retreat, accommodating anywhere from 25 to 250 people. With activities supervised by trained staff, each retreat ensures an experience that meets the unique needs of each group. “McCall is a great place to get away from all the things that vie for our attention daily and spend quality time with others and grow relationships,” Ginger Allen, Operations Director at Camp McCall, said.

Duarte believes the retreat was a blessing for the church, offering a peaceful backdrop where the congregation deepened their connections with one another. “Camp McCall has blessed many people in my church to get more connected. That is the great blessing of being in Camp McCall with our church,” he said. Because of the conversations he had, he felt more connected to the congregation, learning of the challenges that many faced. “In a way, I can pastor better the group,” Duarte said.

For Damaso Ortega, a deacon and youth leader at the church, the retreat was an opportunity for the youth to unplug. “It was really helpful for everyone just to stay away from it from the cell phones,” Ortega said. He also shared about the importance of listening to the Lord’s voice and believes the serenity of Camp McCall was a chance to practice that skill. “You need to learn how to hear God first, and this kind of silence is really helpful,” Ortega said.

The church hosts students for Vacation Bible School.

Hope for Future Growth

Ortega has been focused on growing the youth, believing that sharing the Gospel with the next generation is of the utmost importance. “It’s really slow work, but I think God is moving among them,” he said. He asks for prayer for wisdom as they keep reaching the youth, emphasizing the impact that a student could have in sharing the Gospel in their circles. 

Both Duarte and Ortega ask for prayer that God would continue to work in the church and that more lives would continue to be transformed by the Gospel. “God has established this church. This ministry is his heart because God loves the foreigner,” Duarte said. He hopes to continue to hold a church-wide retreat at Camp McCall each year because of the immense blessing the church experienced.

“As part of SCBaptist, Camp McCall is committed to helping every church advance the Great Commission. We do that primarily through summer camps and retreat hosting, and we’ve been happy to work with La Roca the last two years,” Allen said. “It’s been a real pleasure to get to know the church and its members as well as help them achieve their goal for their retreat.”

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