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Filipinos to report on church planting progress

ST. LOUIS (BP) — The Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America is on pace to fulfill its goal of planting 100 new churches in North America by 2020.

That’s part of the report to be presented to the fellowship’s annual meeting in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis. The theme of the Filipino Fellowship’s meeting is “Called for Such a Time as This,” drawn from Esther 4:14.

The fellowship will gather Tuesday, June 14, at 2 p.m. in Landmark Ballrooms 6-7 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel. Speakers at the meeting will include Jerry Lepasana, pastor of Bible Church International in Randolph, N.J., and at least one other Filipino pastor to be announced. Lepasana is expected to address, among other topics, Bible Church’s method of fostering church growth through small groups.

Evangelism and church planting are expected to be emphasized through the meeting.

“The West sent missionaries to the Philippines, and we benefitted from that,” fellowship president Peter Yanes said. “… We bring that [missions] DNA wherever we go. As Filipinos, we go abroad to the Middle East and Europe and the U.S.A. and Canada, and we bring that Gospel with us and share it with our family and friends.”

As part of the fellowship’s “2020 Vision,” it adopted a goal last year of increasing the total number of North American Filipino churches to more than 300 by the year 2020, an increase of 100. The 20-plus congregations planted in 2015 represent the first step of that journey, said Yanes, a North American Mission Board church planting catalyst and ethnic strategist for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.

In conjunction with its church planting strategy, the Filipino Fellowship will begin a two-year process of amending its bylaws to give more responsibility to officers and local churches and establish membership requirements for congregations. Previously, all Filipino Southern Baptist churches were automatically considered part of the fellowship.

New bylaws will be discussed at the 2016 annual meeting, with final approval anticipated for 2017.

“We wanted to be not only a national fellowship,” Yanes said, “but we wanted to be a national movement of planting Filipino North American churches. And we believed that to do that, we needed to re-strengthen the base. And so we’re restructuring the bylaws and the membership.”

Tightening membership requirements, Yanes said, is “a must.”

“Moving forward with our goal of planting more churches, we wanted not only membership but partnership from our local churches,” Yanes said. “We believe that the Great Commission was given to the local churches. There’s no way the national fellowship will continue to envision that without partnership from our local churches.”

To register for the annual meeting, email Yanes at [email protected]. The fellowship has a Facebook page and will post updates on the June gathering as the date approaches.