WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — A church health conference in Spanish drew more than 50 pastors to Sept. 26 sessions sponsored by the 9Marks church health ministry and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina.
The “9Marks en Español” conference was organized in a “spirit of innovation, serious commitment and a vision to serve God’s diverse Kingdom,” according to a report from the seminary.
“Our prayer is that we will bring glory to Christ by training and equipping current and future Christian leaders among the Hispanic community,” said Edgar Aponte, Southeastern’s director of Hispanic leadership development and one of the conference speakers.
The seminary “is here to serve the Spanish-speaking church,” Aponte said, “and we want pastors to see us as their ally in serving them as they work to fulfill the Great Commission. A key to all this is a healthy understanding of the church.”
9Marks, based in Washington, D.C., is a ministry to equip church leaders with “a biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches,” as described in the seminary report.
Six years ago, 9Marks started a partnership with SEBTS to hold an annual conference focusing on the “nine marks” of a healthy church, the seminary reported. Those descriptors are described at 9Marks’ website, www.9marks.org.
The English-language 9Marks conference, focusing on the topic of evangelism, was held Sept. 27-28 also at Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
The 50-plus pastors at the Spanish-language conference traveled to the seminary from states across the Southeast, including four pastors who drove from Houston, Texas.
Speakers at the Spanish-language conference taught on such topics as biblical theology, conversion, evangelism, church membership and discipleship. The conference began with Danny Akin, SEBTS president, praying for the event and speaking about his personal commitment to serve the Hispanic community.
Several non-denominational and charismatic pastors were among the attendees. Aponte said Southeastern is “a servant to SBC churches, but we also want to reach beyond that as a resource to help foster diversity within the church and our denominational environment.” According to the seminary report on the conference, “Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. A large majority of those that are ministering among Hispanics do not have any kind of theological education. The lack of a good theological and Gospel foundation has made many Hispanic pastors targets of distortions such as the prosperity gospel and theological moralism. SEBTS is committed to becoming a vehicle that will bring clarity and soundness to the Spanish-speaking churches by engaging and training Christian leaders and pastors.”
William Ortega, senior consultant for the North Carolina State Baptist Convention in Hispanic church planting, said, “The talks and the conference in general was a productive and edifying time. Pastors were blessed by what they heard and the time of fellowship they enjoyed.”
Speakers at the conference, in addition to Aponte, included Miguel Nuñez, senior pastor of the International Baptist Church in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Ryan Townsend, 9Marks executive director; and Juan Sanchez, preaching pastor at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. 9Marks has created a Spanish website (http://es.9marks.org) and translated several books and journals into Spanish to serve pastors within the Hispanic community in the U.S. and in Latin America.
The 9Marks en Español conference at Southeastern is part of the growing involvement of Southern Baptist seminaries in Spanish-language theological education. In addition to Southeastern, various degree programs and coursework are offered at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Speakers at the English-language 9Marks conference at Southeastern included Akin; Mark Dever, 9Marks president and senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington; J.D. Greear, lead pastor of Summit Church in Durham, N.C.; Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of First Baptist Church on Grand Cayman Island; Peter Williams of Cambridge University’s faculty in England; and John Folmar, pastor of United Christian Church in Dubai.
To access the audio and video from the 9Marks conference, go to 9Marks English. For the Spanish-language sessions, go to 9Marks Spanish.
Reported by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Baptist Press editor Art Toalston contributed to this article. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).