Welcomed and Welcoming

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On May 8, 2021, our father, Pastor Pedro S. Capetillo, was laid to rest to await our Lord and Savior’s return. The stories he shared from his testimony and conversion continue to ring during our families’ dinners and get togethers. While reflecting on the importance of creating a welcoming culture in our local churches, we realized that Dad’s life was a series of opportunities where people, used by God, welcomed him. Here is a summary of highlights.

August 26, 1935 – Dad was welcomed into this world by his family of thirteen siblings in Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
May 10, 1962 – Twenty-six-year-old Pedro Capetillo immigrated to the United States and was welcomed by his aunt to San Antonio, Texas.
June 5, 1965 – Dad moved to Houston, Texas, where he began working for a fence-building company, welcomed by the owner, Mr. Rutherford.
September 1965 – Dad welcomed a new co-worker (Daniel Sanchez), who told him about the gospel as they loaded pickets, set posts, and shared lunch breaks.
Spring 1966 – A Church of God (Seventh Day) baseball team, Los Tecolotes, welcomed Dad as one of their starting pitchers. One of his passions was to throw a diving curve ball after his fastball, which made the batter’s knees buckle.
April 1967 – Dad went to his first ever non-Catholic service by invitation of his catcher, Ruben Davila, who was the church’s pastor in Houston, Texas. Dad was welcomed to church, despite a box of cigarettes in his front shirt pocket.
December 10, 1968 – After approximately a year of studying the Bible during lunch breaks and asking questions after services, Dad was welcomed into the body of Christ and baptized by Pastor Manuel Solis.
Spring 1969 – The elders welcomed Dad to the group of worship leaders and preachers, mentoring him through his mistakes and encouraging him after fumbles at the pulpit.
February 1971 – Dad was welcomed into a select body of lay pastors, where he began working on building a mission in a suburb of Houston named Conroe.
August 1978 – The Licensed and Credentials Committee welcomed Dad as a minister of the Church of God (Seventh Day).
July 1990 – Dad was welcomed to the group of credentialed ministers. He had the opportunity to work in Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Midland, Texas.
September 10, 2019 – Dad was welcomed among the retired credentialed ministers, where he served through mentoring and encouraging several young ministers, particularly my brother and me.
April 29, 2021 – Dad was called to rest for a while — just until our Savior returns.

Although Dad’s death certificate says April 30, 2021, those in the room saw the peaceful event of someone who trusted in Christ for salvation take his last breath a few minutes before midnight, April 29. The nurse came in approximately fifteen minutes after we knew Dad was resting. The nurse declared the time of death at 12:10 a.m., but no one in the room cared to correct the details. We believed that now this man waited for one more welcoming opportunity — the time when he hears his name, followed by “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

Our turn

We are fully aware that not everyone’s testimony follows this path. However, with the same certainty, we realize that our Christian journeys have been decorated through the years with many welcoming opportunities: when we walked into church for the first time or gave our first sermonette; when we participated in the children’s play or moved to a new city and joined a new congregation. In all honesty, those welcoming moments have been an integral part of why we are in the church community where we serve today.

Now with the release of The Art of Being a Welcoming Church in January, we thank all the brothers and sisters praying for this project and helping us along the way. We also are preparing to release a web page to schedule the Welcoming Church workshops, where we deal with an uncomfortable question: “Are we welcoming to everyone God sends to our community, or are we only welcoming to those in our inner circle?”

Our father was welcomed into a church that provided a nurturing environment. Today, he rests, but his eight children and their spouses, twenty-seven grandchildren, and thirty-two great-grandchildren continue to worship and serve God in our church. Would your church be the type to welcome the apparent stranger with a box of cigarettes protruding through his front pocket, not knowing what could come of that visit? Would you allow God to use the church to reveal the potential He sees in the newcomer?

Witness of Scripture

The welcoming concept is found repeatedly in the Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments. We find it in the early church and want to be known for it even in the twenty-first century church.

Not everyone who walks through our doors will eventually become a pastor or a women’s ministry president. However, everyone should be welcomed as a valued person who can make our community deeper, stronger, and more diverse. We want this for our local churches because this is God’s design for His church.

James 2:1 teaches us this concept. Let’s read it in different versions:

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (ESV).

Dear brothers, how can you claim that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, if you show favoritism to rich people and look down on poor people? (TLB).

My fellow believers, do not practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of partiality [toward people — show no favoritism, no prejudice, no snobbery] (Amplified).

Our opportunity is at hand. We can be part of a church that shows no favoritism, shares the gospel, and welcomes everyone without partiality. The Church of God (Seventh Day) can impact the world with how we welcome our guests. We can be one more piece in God’s perfect plan for anyone seeking a relationship with the Savior. We can be the welcoming church God uses to change people’s lives and future generations.

Don’t hesitate to contact your superintendent to schedule the Welcoming Church workshops for your local event. May God bless His church and His vision of “Come and See” initiatives.

Moises Capetillo
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Moises Capetillo served the Church for several years in various roles under his father, Pastor Pedro S. Capetillo, in Houston, TX; Denver, CO; and Midland, TX. A recent graduate of Artios Christian College, Moises now resides in Albuquerque, NM, where he serves as the senior pastor of the Church of God (Seventh Day), alongside his wife, Victoria, and six children.Ê