Churches join for bigger purpose

A Brazilian church that has been meeting at First Baptist Windermere has merged with the host church to bring more opportunities to share Christ with the community.

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Two churches with one purpose have united to make an even bigger impact on West Orange County.

The Comunidade Batista Brasileira de Orlando (CBBO) and First Baptist Church Windermere (FBCW) are now considered one church at 300 Main St., Windermere.

CBBO has met at First Baptist’s downtown campus for a year-and-a-half, offering a Portuguese service on Sunday evenings.

The Brazilian church outgrew its original space at FBC and was given the 80-seat chapel. The membership grew, and the church needed more space, so the main worship center was offered. Attendance soon reached 300.

Pastor Lécio Dornas spoke to Pastor Chuck Carter about how the two churches could work together.

“With the evolution of the conversation, Pastor Chuck asked me if our church wanted to integrate the ministries as separate churches or both under the same umbrella,” Dornas said. “At this moment we understood that God was uniting us, and I said, ‘It will be much better if we are one church.’ Pastor Chuck says, ‘I agree!’ God did the rest!”

Carter met with his staff and elders, and all decided this was a good move.

In August, Dornas was invited to join the FBCW staff, and a week later the church leaders celebrated the merger with a Brazilian BBQ and Baptism event at The Pines at Windermere.

Close to 800 people attended, and 59 were baptized in the lake.

“I think everyone saw the impact of adding a thriving, healthy, service-minded congregation into our congregation,” Campus Pastor Troy Schmidt said. “They are enthusiastic and very mission focused. Seeing so many baptized from both churches immediately made us bond with them. … It was a milestone for our church.”

The churches now operate with the same mission, same resources and same budget; the Brazilian church had to adapt to the First Baptist name and purpose statement.

Schmidt said the merger is another step in connecting the Baptist church with Central Florida citizens.

“We are reaching a community that we could not reach,” he said. “We have always had many Brazilians at our church. Our missions pastor, Auzelio Santini, was Brazilian, and we went many times to Brazil on mission trips. He died three years ago but I think God was preparing us to be a mission church not just overseas but here at home.

“Soon after this, a Russian church came to us and asked to use our chapel on Sunday afternoons,” Schmidt said. “We now rent out space to them. We are also starting a Spanish ministry once a month on Sunday nights. As our nation becomes diverse, we need to adapt to reach people in America.”

Carter agreed: “We praise God for the way He is moving in our church and for bringing this community together to be a part of what God has called us to do: Be the church.”


Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].


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