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AVANCE among key Hispanic gatherings in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (BP) — The increasing scope of Hispanic involvement in the Southern Baptist Convention will be evident during the weekend leading up to the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis.

Progress, for example, on the SBC Hispanic Leaders and Pastors Network, initiated in December 2014, will be frequently referenced, including the launch of its multifaceted website.

Bob Sena, Hispanic relations consultant with the SBC Executive Committee, said he is excited that “this year’s SBC annual meeting in St. Louis will see several Hispanic events.”

Among them:

— Prayer and fellowship led by the National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship on Sunday afternoon (June 12).

— the annual AVANCE dinner and celebration Sunday evening sponsored by the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, GuideStone Financial Resources and the SBC Executive Committee.

— an inaugural meeting — with a dinner, TED-styled talks and panel discussion — of the new Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance.

Sena said he is “more convinced than ever that no one group can represent the diverse Southern Baptist Hispanic component of the SBC.”

“The more than 3,400 Hispanic congregations in our convention are very diverse linguistically, culturally and geographically, which requires that we all work together in unity.”

Sena voiced his “prayer and hope that these SBC Hispanic events will motivate and mobilize many Hispanic pastors and leaders to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis.”

And Sena voiced a broadened call for “all Hispanic Southern Baptist to pray for revival, share the powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ, get involved at all levels of the Southern Baptist Convention — faithfully teaching the Word of God, planting new churches, increasing our giving and involvement in local and global missions and the Cooperative Program.”

Among current positive trends: Cooperative Program giving from Hispanic churches increased 11 percent from 2013 to 2014, the latest time span for which data from the North American Mission Board’s Missional Research Center is available.

Spanish-language translations of two brochures — Conozca a los Bautistas del Sur (Meet Southern Baptists) and La Convención Bautista de Sur: Un análisis detallado (The Southern Baptist Convention: A Closer Look) — are slated for release in print and online in June.

AVANCE ‘Boldly Committed’

AVANCE, as a key pre-SBC gathering of Hispanic pastors and leaders, will be themed “Firmes en el Evangelio – Valientes en la Mision” (in English, “Firmly Standing on the Gospel – Boldly Committed to the Mission”).

It will begin with a 5 p.m. dinner and celebration on Sunday, June 12, in Rooms 225-226 of America’s Center in St. Louis, site of the June 14-15 SBC annual meeting.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, will return for a second year as an AVANCE featured speaker. Also scheduled are William Ortega, Hispanic church planting consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and former International Mission Board megacity strategist in Mexico, and Frank S. Page, president of the Executive Committee. Music will be led by Julio Arriola, global worship pastor at Cross Church.

“The Lord is doing a great work in our Hispanic churches and congregations,” Floyd said in a statement to Baptist Press. “He is gathering the ethnicities in our nation together for His glory. Southern Baptists are leading the way in this grand experience. I am excited for the opportunity to speak this year for AVANCE. Please join us in this time together.”

Conferences featuring three SBC entities will follow the AVANCE dinner and program: the International Mission Board in Room 229 of America’s Center; the North American Mission Board, Room 223; and LifeWay Christian Resources, Room 220.

For AVANCE registration information, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/avance-2016-tickets-22585423610?aff=ebrowse.

Network & website

The SBC Hispanic Leaders and Pastors Network and its website will be a topic that is referenced and discussed throughout the weekend’s Hispanic activities.

The website — www.redcbs.org — is slated for launch on April 27. Its web address, or URL, reflects the Spanish-language translation for the Southern Baptist Convention — Convención Bautista del Sur — and the word for net, “red.”

The SBC Hispanic Leaders and Pastors Network is being developed by a vision and mission team led by Guillermo Soriano, consultant for Hispanic evangelism and discipleship for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Leading the website’s development is Tony Muñoz, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Latina in Effingham, Ill.

Soriano noted that the www.redcbs.org website will be a primary means by which the SBC Hispanic Leaders and Pastors Network will move forward in its vision and mission to nurture collaboration and communication among Hispanic pastors, leaders, churches, associations, fellowships, networks and organizations and with SBC entities for the fulfillment of the Great Commission with the Great Commandment.

Soriano listed a number of ways the website will be beneficial, citing specific content areas that would include:

— demographic information, statistics and studies nationally and in various parts of the country that can be accessed by pastors and leaders in shaping and strengthening their churches’ ministries.

— resources for cross-cultural missions both overseas and among second- and third-generation Hispanics whose first language is English within a bicultural context.

— information on available contextualized trainers, facilitators, consultants and specialists and on potential candidates for ministerial staff positions.

— prayer and spiritual awakening among pastors, leaders and their churches and encouragement for engaging in the SBC annual meeting and its opportunities for fellowship, networking, evangelism and prayer.

Also during the weekend

The new Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance, in its inaugural meeting on Monday, June 13, will focus on the theme “La Iglesia, La Misión & Los Hispanos” (“The Church, The Mission & Hispanics”).

The alliance, which has grown to 60 churches in the past year, is “a network of Hispanic Southern Baptist pastors who want to see Christ exalted and His Word proclaimed in the Hispanic community and in Spanish-speaking congregations,” said Félix Cabrera, co-founder of the organization and lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City.

After a time of music and worship at 6 p.m., TED-style talks will feature SBC President Ronnie Floyd on missions and prayer; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, on theology and missions; Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., on the centrality of the church in mission; Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, on church planting as mission; Johnny Hunt, former SBC president and pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock, on the pastor as a mobilizer; and David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, on the beauty of global missions. Frank Page of the Executive Committee also will address the meeting on the value of Baptist cooperation.

Seven Hispanic pastors will be featured in a panel discussion on evangelism and discipleship among Hispanic communities in North America: Julio Crespo of Iglesia Bautista Buenas Nuevas in Lilburn, Ga.; José Abella, Providence Road Church, Miami; Raudel Hernández, Summit en Español, Raleigh, N.C.; Rubén Cabrera, City of God Church, Oklahoma City; Jorge Mendoza, Blueprint Church, Atlanta; Freddy Noble, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Manhattan, New York; and Rich Pérez, Christ Crucified Fellowship, New York City. Edgar Aponte, Southeastern Seminary’s director of Hispanic leadership development, will be the moderator.

The Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance meeting will be held in Rooms 120 & 127 of America’s Center, with a dinner included. Registration information is available at www.hispanicbpa.org/la-iglesia-la-mision-los-hispanos.

Cabrera said planning for the meeting has resulted in “dozens of conversations about the Cooperative Program with Hispanic pastors who want to get involved. This is a great moment for Hispanics in the SBC and we want to encourage Hispanic pastors to be more active in what the Lord is doing through our churches and mission boards.”

On Sunday, June 12, the National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship will meet for a time of prayer and fellowship from 2-4 p.m. at Tower Grove Baptist Church, 4257 Magnolia Ave., which is in the same St. Louis downtown area as America’s Center.

Elias Bracamonte, the fellowship’s first vice president and associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., said the session will include remarks by Soriano about the SBC Hispanic Leaders and Pastors Network and by Ramón Osorio, national church mobilizer with the North American Mission Board.

The theme for the National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship’s gathering will be the same as the SBC annual meeting: “Awaken America, Reach the World” drawn from Acts 4:31.

The National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship, the oldest Hispanic organization within the SBC, holds its sessions at other times of the year and in different cities.

Leadership teams

Current members of the SBC Hispanic Leaders and Pastors Network’s vision and mission team, in addition to Guillermo Soriano and Tony Muñoz, are Fernando Amaro of Arizona, Rolando Castro of Maryland, Mike Gonzales of Texas, Ana Melendez of Illinois, Patrick Regalado of Tennessee, Victor Rios of New York and Daniel Sanchez of Texas.

Members of the AVANCE planning committee, in addition to Sena, are Jason Carlisle of the IMB, Ramon Osorio of NAMB, Patrick Regalado of LifeWay and Miguel Perez of Guidestone.

Members of the Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance leadership council, in addition to Cabrera, are Julio Crespo, José Abella and Raudel Hernández.