Planting Pregnant: The DNA of Kaleo Christian Community Church and her daughter, Iglesia Nueva Canción


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During the pandemic of 2020, in a season of uncertainty for the country and the church, God called Jonathan Herrera and his wife Olympia to plant a new church. Three years later, the Herreras planted Iglesia Nueva Canción in Paradise Hills, San Diego.

But that wasn’t the first time the Herreras had been involved in church planting. In 2019, the Herrera family joined their friends, Michael and Yesenia Jiménez, along with several others, to plant Kaleo Comunidad Cristiana in the city of Lemon Grove, California.

But even before the mother church had been planted, Kaleo church decided to send out a family to plant another church. By deciding to “plant pregnant” from the beginning, Kaleo church cast a vision that led to the birth of Iglesia Nueva Canción four years later.

At the same time the Herreras were praying to the Lord to decide where they should plant, Pastor Bryan Barmer of Bright Hope Community Church was asking God to send them a planter to reach the growing Latino population in his region.

When the Send Network’s Church Planting Catalyst in San Diego heard about the need for a church planter, he made the connection between Barmer and the Herreras. After some meetings and months of prayer, pastors Herrera and Barmer decided to serve together so that a new Hispanic church would be born on the premises of Bright Hope Church in the Paradise Hills community.

Paradise Hills is an urban neighborhood in the southeast area of San Diego, fifteen minutes from the Mexico border. It is a culturally diverse community where 38 percent of the population is Latino, which equals approximately 13,500 people.

Herrera’s vision is that the Paradise Hills community will know Iglesia Nueva Canción as a church that serves, loves, and preaches Christ. He believes the church can accomplish this by establishing various life groups, along with comprehensive discipleship groups where believers can grow and mature in their faith and leaders can be trained.

“Iglesia Nueva Canción has a heart for both local and international missions,” said Herrera. Over the next five years, they plan to establish healthy relationships with local authorities, businesses, and other local institutions by providing spiritual, emotional, and physical support.

The name of the church, Iglesia Nueva Canción, or New Song Church, comes from Psalms 40:3, which the leadership team focused on as they prepared to plant the church: “He put a new song on my lips, a hymn of praise to our God. Seeing this, many were afraid and put their trust in the Lord”.

Herrera is a bi-vocational planter and also works as a fifth-grade teacher in a public school in the neighboring city of Chula Vista. He has a master’s degree in education, a master’s degree in theology and is currently finishing his Doctor of Ministry at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.

He is also committed to completing a church planting residency organized by Send Network Español that begins in August 2023. He hopes this experience will not only equip him to better serve in ministry but will also help him to create and strengthen relationships with future San Diego planters and pastors.

The church planting pastor is thankful for the partnership with Send Network, which helped him find a location to plant and will also provide him with adequate ministry training and expand the church’s ministerial relations.

The Herrera family loves to do ministry together. Jonathan’s wife, Olympia, ministers to women, plans for church and community events and focuses on hospitality and fellowship. Their twelve-year-old daughter Azarell serves in the children’s ministry by supporting the teachers and aides the media team. Eight-year-old Sofía, the youngest, serves in the connection ministry by distributing church programs and setting up dessert and coffee tables every Friday for life groups.

With God’s favor, Herrera plans to lead his new church to plant a daughter church soon so that another community will receive the good news of the gospel. Staying true to its DNA, Iglesia Nueva Canción was born pregnant.

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