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Great Commission Team highlights diversity of annual meeting, larger SBC

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Ethnic minorities are increasing their participation in all areas of Southern Baptist Convention life, say members of the SBC Executive Committee’s Great Commission Relations and Mobilization (GCRM) Team.

“We’re all about winning people here at home and around the world,” said SBC EC Interim President at CEO Willie McLaurin. “… It’s about lengthening, strengthening and deepening relationships.”

McLaurin was a guest on “Baptist Press This Week,” hosted by Brandon Porter, EC associate vice president for convention news. Porter was also joined by Charles Grant and Peter Yanes, EC associate vice presidents for African American and Asian GCRM initiatives, respectively. Luis Lopez, who oversees Hispanic relations and mobilization for the EC, was out of the country and unavailable for the interview.

McLaurin said the GCRM is about “mobilizing every church in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

“Part of our vision as a Convention is Revelation 7:9, where there’s every nation, every tongue, every kindred and every tribe,” he said.

The GCRM Team’s focus on building relationships with ethnic churches and networks has brought about a higher level of missional engagement among various ethnic groups.

“We’ve seen Cooperative Program giving significantly increase from our racially and ethnically diverse churcheS,” he said. “We praise the Lord for that.”

McLaurin said he is excited about the upcoming SBC annual meeting in New Orleans – the first time the city has hosted the meeting since the historic election of Fred Luter, the SBC’s first Black president, in 2012.

“I absolutely believe the diversity of the Southern Baptist Convention is going to be on full display in New Orleans,” McLaurin said.

African American participation

Grant said his aim is to encourage churches to “position themselves missionally to be involved in evangelism, church planting and international missions.”

A major focus for Grant in his three years at the EC has been the production and distribution of “Navigating the SBC,” a resource to help newly affiliated churches and pastors understand the workings of Baptist life and polity.

Grant said the resource has helped people know “how to have a voice in the Convention.”

Looking ahead to New Orleans next month, Grant said African American events and gatherings include the National African American Fellowship worship service, business meeting and banquet, a dedication service for the new Fred Luter Jr. Student Center at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and various other events.

Asian American participation

“The past three years have been exciting among Asian Americans in our Southern Baptist Convention as we’re seeing more participation from about 30-plus Asian nationalities connected with the SBC,” Yanes told Porter.

“We’re seeing more and more Asian churches and groups that want to join SBC and engage what’s happening around the Great Commission cooperation.”

Asian fellowships in the SBC range in size from 50-60 Japanese American churches to more than 1,000 Korean American churches, Yanes said.

At least seven Asian American events will surround the SBC meeting in New Orleans, including the first ever meeting of Myanmar Baptist Churches USA as well as the third annual Asian Collective Kick-Off Gathering.