Iglesia Bautista Azle Avenue Baptist Church began in 1996 as an offshoot of a Hispanic mission within Rosen Heights Baptist Church. “We wanted a church representative of the community,” Lead Pastor Fernando Rojas says. In 2001, that offshoot found a permanent home when Azle Avenue Baptist Church invited the ﬂedgling group to join with their congregation’s primarily aging members. Rojas helped with the transformation, first as a member of Rosen Heights Baptist for 24 years, and nine years as associate pastor at IB Azle Avenue.
Rojas definitely puts Family First – his favorite Blue Zones Power 9 principle – and sees his church as a family. Rojas and his parents came to Texas 30 years ago with no other family around, and perhaps that’s why he feels the connection so strongly. “My daughter grew up with kids in the church youth program who are now her family,” he says.
Now 20 years in, IB Azle Avenue has truly embedded itself in the community. There’s the Read2Win program, which pairs high school students with first and second graders who weren’t reading fluently. The church also partners with W.J. Turner Elementary with the 13-week “Highly Capable Children” program. When they noticed that the porogram was attended primarily by mothers, Rojas says the church started an All Pro Dads chapter, where fathers could have breakfast monthly with their kids at school.
Then there’s the Walking School Bus. For the last four years, the church has sponsored a walk from the church to the school for children and families. On every corner there’s a physical activity to encourage the kids (and parents) to Move Naturally, another Power 9 principle. Rojas often preaches about stewardship. “We’re stewards of all God gave us,” he says. He sees Moving Naturally as a part of that stewardship.
One of the most important things the church does is assist its members with immigration aid, in partnership with the Mexican Consulate. “We help people get or renew their passports, find their birth certificates, or obtain a U.S. ID.”
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