ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–In an unprecedented move, Hispanic Baptists voted June 11 to make sure they have a voice the next time an “emergency” arises concerning a moral or governmental issue.
A motion to allow officers to set up an electronic voting system was approved during the National Fellowship of Hispanic Baptist Churches’ June 10-11 meeting at Parkway Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.
During the group’s business session, leaders also unveiled a new Internet site, www.cnihb.com, to facilitate the voting process.
The two-day event, organized around the theme, “Hispanic Baptists Radiating Light in the New Millenium,” featured two evening worship services and a three-hour praise and worship service for youth led by contemporary Latin artists.
During the business session, the motion for electronic voting generated discussion about whether people will understand that the resolutions or statements will represent only a partial response and may not necessarily be representative of all Hispanic Baptists.
“Most of us Baptists know and it is not our custom to say that an entity speaks for Southern Baptists,” Julio Fuentes, the fellowship’s executive director and minister of education at Northside Baptist Church, Hialeah, Fla., said. “If the government makes a decision that impacts all of our churches, we need to have an emergency way to get hold of all of our churches.”
In another motion, the fellowship voted to affiliate with International Crusades, a group doing evangelistic work in Latin America countries.
A dozen or so more motions, among them a move to approve a pyramid-type incentive plan for churches that purchase website space, were set aside for next year’s meeting.
Officers elected for 2000-2001 are: president, Herberto Becerra, pastor, First Hispanic Baptist Church, Plantation, Fla.; vice president, Moises Rodriguez, pastor, First Mexican Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas; second vice president, Cristobal Donas, pastor, White Grove Baptist Church, San Jose, Calif.; secretary, Eloy Rodriguez, pastor, Parkway Spanish Mission, Orlando, Fla.; treasurer, Segundo Mir, pastor, Hispanic Baptist Church, Laurel, Md.; and executive director, Fuentes.
Fuentes was appointed executive director by the 1999 president, Roberto Lopez. Although a four-year election is authorized by the fellowship’s constitution and bylaws, a job description for the office has not been completed. Therefore, Fuentes was elected to continue for a period of one year.
A number of last year’s officers resigned early in the year due to varied personal situations, Becerra said in his president’s report. Those resignations resulted in fewer reports generated and no development of a budget or other business reports, he said.
During the June 11 worship celebration, a youth music group from First Hispanic Baptist Church, Pittsburg, Texas, twirled bright silver and blue flags. They joined other musicians from around the country, stepping out in a Latin rhythm to the tune, “Shout to the Lord.”
Moises Rodriguez, who recently stepped down after 10 years as director of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board’s church multiplication department, was presented a plaque of appreciation by Dennis Mitchell of NAMB.
“It was a glimpse of the kingdom of God to watch you serve,” said Mitchell. “He is intelligent with his earned Ph.D. and experienced. Dr. Rodriguez is relational and loves people and gets along well with people.”
Bob Sena, a NAMB national missionary and liaison with the fellowship, delivered a message on unity based on 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“Why don’t we have more churches and why are we not united?” Sena asked. “I believe there is such diversity in our fellowship that we need more unity.”
Voicing a hope for bringing all Hispanic cultures into one force for Christ, Sena said it will take each person, beginning with him to make this happen.
“Spiritual awakening, starting with Bob Sena, is what we need to get our many Hispanic churches to get together,” he said.
“We, the people of God, are asking God, Who is going to fight all these evil things like homosexuality and crimes and drugs?” said Sena. “God is speaking to his people that we need to go and be disciples and give hope and tell Hispanic people that Christ will give us what we need.”
Revival has a price; sanctification has a price; everything has a price, Sena said. “Humble yourself before God in the name of Christ, and people will be saved.”
Southern Baptist entity representatives from LifeWay Christian Resources, International Mission Board, NAMB and the Annuity Board also brought greetings to the Hispanic fellowship participants.
Luis Rodriguez, Bob Sena & David Lema provided translation for this article.