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Hispanic fellowship launches website to facilitate communication, education

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Hispanic Baptists launched their official Internet site June 11 during the 13th annual assembly of the National Fellowship of Hispanic Baptist Churches to facilitate communication and education about common concerns.

The site was launched despite a decision to delay approval of a pyramid-style compensation plan for participating churches.

When Southern Baptists at the 1996 annual meeting in New Orleans voted for a resolution to boycott The Disney Company, Hispanic Baptists, with large numbers of residents in Florida and California where Disney parks are located, didn’t understand the issues, said Pedro Pared, president of the fellowship’s communications committee.

A new communication network facilitated by the Hispanic website will prevent any such confusion in the future, said Pared, pastor of Sweetwater Baptist Church in Miami and part owner of InterWebCall, a Miami-based communications company.

“When there was a problem with homosexuals and gays at Disney World, there was confusion,” Pared said. “It’s not the same when you can have instant information through the Internet.”

Another consideration is unity, said Pared, who believes Hispanics need to network to be more global in their outreach attempts.

“Our people need to be solidified and magnified,” Pared said. The Internet is “an answer to our crisis in being able to accurately report statistics, such as the number of Hispanic churches in the United States.”

Pared said the SBC North American Mission Board currently reports more than 5,200 Hispanic Southern Baptist churches, which he said is fewer than actually exist.

“We need to have virtual contact,” he said. “It’s possible, necessary and urgent.”

Outlining plans to have a Christian counselor online for pastors, Pared said the site currently features links to Southern Baptist agencies; Baptist Press, the official news service of the SBC; other missions-related sites; and links to Hispanic Southern Baptist churches worldwide.

“We want this to be a grassroots effort by Hispanic Southern Baptists to meet our own needs. Technology is advancing rapidly,” Pared said. “The time is coming when the Internet will provide for the sense of smell even.”

Pared listed the following objectives for the site:

— Fulfilling the Great Commission.

— Communication.

— Compiling Resources.

— Support.

— Strategies.

Approval for the creation of the initial website was granted at the 1999 fellowship meeting in Dallas. This year, fellowship participants explored ways to get churches to establish links to the site through developing an Internet page and designating a person to regularly update the page and interact with the fellowship and other churches via the website.

The website, accessible at www.cnihbs.com, took the fellowship almost a year to design, according to Pared and the fellowship’s executive director, Julio Fuentes, minister of education at Northside Baptist Church, Hialeah, Fla.

In the proposed financial plan, a packet of information, including software to assist in page design, will be given to each church which pays a $120 annual fee for participation. Of the total, $100 will be for 10MB of space on the website’s server, with a $20 technician’s fee. A pyramid-style compensation plan would allow participants who enlist others to receive approximately $100 for each nine associates, with a cap of 45 in each group, with a cap of $400 total.

“We envision no commercial gain,” Pared said. “That’s the price it would cost us to maintain the site. Any less and we could not exist.”

Amidst a flurry of questions about the funding proposal, the pyramid style of compensation and the size of space proposed for each participating church, Fuentes reiterated the main points of the fellowship’s plan for communication and networking.

“It gives me chills to think about how we can communicate with everyone, put Baptist Press on the site in Spanish and facilitate information about our Hispanic work — all with this site,” Fuentes said.

Plans are under way to continue the communication committee’s promotion of church pages and development of its site, although the financial plan will be presented for a formal vote of confidence at next year’s annual fellowship meeting in New Orleans, Pared said.

Bob Sena provided Spanish-language translation for this article.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan