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Hispanics Break Ground on Lumberton Church

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LUMBERTON — Future church members in Robeson County broke ground in more ways than one Sunday. The Bet-El Hispanic Baptist Church will be the first of its kind in the Lumberton area.

Robeson County is home to about 3,000 Latinos. For the past several years, many of them have been worshipping in an old wooden building that's getting too small for the growing population.

Sunday, they christened a new piece of land for a church that will accommodate their numbers and their faith.

The fold-out chairs and picnic tables they sat and ate on Sunday will be replaced by the church pews and fellowship hall where they will gather by this time next year.

Sunday, more than 100 Latinos from Robeson County held the first of many prayer services on the site of their new church.

"We are proud to have the Hispanic community around us and we're looking forward to sharing with them in what we believe is the greatest effort that man can make and that is to share our faith with them," said Charles Locklear of the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association.

The group broke ground for the new church the old-fashioned way using a horse-drawn plow. They also plan to build the church the old-fashioned way with members volunteering to do it themselves.

"The Hispanics, they keep coming," says Bet-El Pastor Juvenal Gonzolez. "And this is a great place where they can stay because there are a lot of jobs and they like to work."

They will need some help from the community, however. Plans call for a 4,100 square foot building that will include a health clinic, tutoring facilities, and daycare for area children.

"Contributions from individuals, contributions from churches, contributions from area businesses because these people work there, and these people need a place to worship. So anyone that wants to give, just give," said Michael Moore of Robeson Baptist Association.

The group plans to raise about $150,000 over the next several months they hope to open the doors of the church for the first service next summer.


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