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Filipino Baptists delay vote on executive director

PHOENIX (BP) — A vote to postpone election of an executive director and continued emphasis on church planting were among highlights of the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America’s (FSBFNA) annual meeting June 13 in Phoenix.

During a business session, the fellowship’s officers nominated Dan Santiago, pastor of Covenant Christian Church in Jacksonville, Fla., as the first-ever FSBFNA executive director. While attendees supported Santiago and his leadership, they asked officers to clarify the role of an executive director in the fellowship’s bylaws and voted to delay calling an executive until the 2018 annual meeting in Dallas.

Each year, the fellowship meets in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. This year’s gathering was hosted by Fil-Am International Baptist Church in Mesa, Ariz.

“We are saying simply, delay it for a year. We are not saying we are not going to have” an executive director, Jerry Lepasana, pastor of Bible Church International in Garfield, N.J., said during the business session.

Regardless of who is elected, he noted, “officers should provide due diligence in coming up with” a more clarified job description for the executive director.

Santiago was elected FSBFNA president. Felix Sermon of Grace International Christian Church in Alexandria, Va., and Henry Amarila of Shadow Mountain Community Church’s Filipino congregation in El Cajon, Calif., were chosen as vice presidents for the east and west coasts respectively.

Also elected were secretary Solomon Reyes of Union (N.J.) Community Bible Church and treasurer Roberto Del Castillo of Harmony International Baptist Church in San Diego, Calif.

Speaking to a full house, Allan Gayongala of Valley International Christian Church in Peoria, Ariz., urged Filipino Baptists to be faithful to their ministries.

Gayongala preached from Psalm 78, which references King David’s call to lead Israel. David remained faithful to the Lord, Gayongala said, even when he was engaged in tasks that might have seemed unimportant.

“David was chosen because he was faithful to little things,” Gayongala said. “Sometimes you are tempted to think that if we are serving the Lord, we must be serving big time. God is not calling us to bigness. He has chosen us for faithfulness. When we are faithful to little things, big things happen.”

Gayongala recounted his own struggles with planting churches and encouraged others to remain patient and faithful in planting new congregations. The message complemented the fellowship’s “20/20” initiative, aimed at planting 100 new churches between 2015 and 2020.

Jeremy Sin, a national church planting catalyst for the North American Mission Board, commended Filipino Baptists for their passion and positive attitude.

“I can see the laughter, the smiles in your faces,” Sin said. The FSBFNA annual meeting “is a time of joy where you share what God is doing in your lives in every corner in this continent.”

Filipino Baptists can continue to advance God’s Kingdom, Sin said, by maintaining their partnership with NAMB and supporting new church plants.

“I pray that our churches will be praying, participating and also supporting new church plants,” Sin said. “[I pray that] your churches will multiply themselves because church planters are coming out of your congregations.”

The meeting concluded with a meal of traditional Filipino dishes, including lechón or roasted pig.

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  • Daniel Woodman