Reaching Hispanic Communities in Oconee
Edson Garcia’s journey to Seneca began in Mexico, where he faithfully preached the Gospel.
His life took a new direction when members of Utica Baptist Church, in Seneca, South Carolina, would visit Mexico on mission trips. This initial partnership laid the foundation for the deeper collaboration to come. They recognized the need for a Hispanic church planter in their community and shared this vision with Garcia. Following God’s leading, Garcia and his family made the bold move from Mexico to Seneca to establish La Roca Oconee, a church tailored to meet the spiritual needs of the Hispanic population.
Church Planting in Seneca
“We knew Edson long before he got here and it really was a great privilege to be able to bring him here and join him in ministry,” Ryan Goodroe, Lead Pastor of Utica Baptist Church, said. As Garcia embarked on his mission, Utica stood by him as a steadfast partner, supporting him both in prayer and financially. “God put so many churches around us,” Garcia said, sharing how not only Utica but also many other local churches have supported their ministry.
Garcia’s ministry began with two Bible studies in Seneca and Anderson. His mission was clear: to reach as many Hispanics as possible with the message of salvation. “That’s my motivation. To preach to those that haven’t heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ so they can be saved,” Garcia said. Through his efforts, the Bible studies began to grow, and the impact of its ministry began to spread. In April, La Roca Oconee celebrated a significant milestone as they baptized five new believers.
The partnership between Utica Baptist Church and La Roca Oconee is a multifaceted endeavor. “It’s really a multilayered partnership that has been a source of great joy for both congregations,” Goodroe said. Financial support from Utica ensures the stability and success of La Roca Oconee’s local church operations. Additionally, Goodroe and his team provide pastoral guidance and advice to Garcia, helping him navigate the unique challenges of ministry in America. Members of Utica Baptist Church have contributed not only financially but also through hands-on involvement, offering logistical support, encouragement, and even volunteering in La Roca’s activities. Some members have even temporarily relocated to Oconee County to actively contribute to La Roca’s flourishing community.
The impact of this partnership has been profound, with both churches witnessing God’s transformative work. La Roca Oconee’s reach has extended beyond Oconee County, with its influence stretching into Anderson and beyond. “What we thought of as a very localized work among Hispanics here in Oconee County has already gone well beyond that, reaching into two or three counties,” Goodroe said. The partnership has not only strengthened La Roca Oconee’s mission but has also deepened the commitment and faith of Utica Baptist Church members.