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5 NAMB missionaries named top church planters for ’05

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Five North American Mission Board missionaries have been named “Church Planting Missionaries of the Year” for their work in starting new Southern Baptist churches last year.

The five, jointly funded with state Baptist conventions, are Chuy Avila of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, named for Hispanic church planting; Dave Howeth of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention as associational director of missions for church planting; James Jenkins of the Louisiana Baptist Convention for African American church planting; Pam Mungo of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina for Anglo church planting; and Jo Robledo Jr. of the California Southern Baptist Convention for multiethnic church planting.

Richard Harris, NAMB vice president of church planting, honored the quintet at an awards dinner March 24 attended by more than 200 people during the four-day 2006 Church Planting Missionaries Forum at the Westin Airport Hotel in Atlanta.

“Church planting missionaries are our front-line strategists to evangelize and congregationalize North America,” Harris said. “They are the most ethnically diverse group of leaders in the SBC, and model what North America looks like when you walk the streets.

“It was with great joy and gratitude that NAMB recognizes 2005’s five most outstanding church planting missionaries, who are some of the finest of our spiritual warriors and who are passionate about penetrating our culture with the Gospel,” Harris said. “These folks are some of the greatest heroes we have as Southern Baptists.”

When Avila began working as an Hispanic Southern Baptist church planter in Tennessee five years ago, there were 23 Hispanic Baptist churches in the entire state. Today there are 72, including 49 planted under Avila’s direction and leadership.

Howeth helped plant five new churches the last two years in Montana and will launch a sixth in June and a seventh this coming fall. Representing the Treasure State Baptist Association in Helena since 1997, Howeth serves 29 churches, three college campus ministries, two institutional ministries and two resort ministries in southwest Montana. Some 250,000 people live in this rapidly growing area of Montana, which includes 11 counties across 35,000 square miles plus Yellowstone Park.

Jenkins serves in northwest Louisiana as the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s African American church planting specialist. He was recognized for his involvement in planting more than 50 new churches toward a goal of 200 new churches by 2010.

Mungo serves as a strategist for Anglo and African American church starts in western North Carolina. She recruits church planters for new starts, working with each for at least two years, and has worked with 150 new churches since 1996.

Robledo has served as a church planting missionary with the California Baptist Southern Convention for the past 25 years. In 2005, he helped start five new churches in the Silicon Valley Bay area, including an Eritrean-language church in Oakland.

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  • Mickey Noah