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Hispanic Fellowship meets in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Floods and rain did not deter Hispanic leaders and pastors from around the United States from celebrating new life in Christ June 8 when the National Fellowship of Hispanic Churches of the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual business meeting in Indianapolis.

Representatives from Florida, Texas, California, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, New York and Louisiana gathered at Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor in Indianapolis and reported 120 professions of faith as a result of weeklong simultaneous revivals in Seymour and Columbus, Ind.

The revivals were part of Crossover’08, an evangelistic outreach preceding each year’s SBC annual meeting.

Augusto Valverde, president of the fellowship and pastor of Iglesia Bautista Resurreccion in Miami, said although rain and flooding in the greater Indianapolis area and rain kept people from celebrations planned the evening before, local churches reported positive results in working together to conduct the revivals, which ran from June 1-7.

“Six missionaries came from Miami to spend the whole week evangelizing and helping the churches,” Valverde said.

Valverde cited statistics from 2004 when the Southern Baptist Convention last met in Indianapolis and compared those to the current number of Hispanic churches.

“From 2004 [until now] we have seen a positive development in the vision and establishment of Hispanic works,” Valverde said. “From six congregations listed in 2004 the work has grown to 16 congregations as of today. That is a great rate of growth for a pioneer area.”

Valverde also announced the upcoming First Hispanic Baptist Congress in Atlanta Aug. 7-9 at Iglesia Bautista Hispanoamericana in Lilburn, Ga.

Calling it a “historic event,” Valverde said the congress will feature guest speaker Luciano Jaramillo, a Bible translator and author for the general sessions, and Sharon Haynes, an international speaker and writer, for the women’s conference at the congress.

Hector Mendez, secretary of the fellowship, and a member of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Fort Worth, Texas, reported that the fellowship led in four national evangelistic crusades with the support of Crusades International from Texas, with at least 348 professions of faith reported. Crusades, he said, were conducted in Laurel, Md.; Fort Worth, Texas; Atlanta; and Indianapolis.

The challenge next year, Mendez said, is to respond to “invitations to partner with existing churches in Anchorage, Alaska, in Canada and in Illinois.”

Although various administrative items were discussed and resolved, no elections were held because one of the changes previously made was that the election of the fellowship leaders will be held at the annual congress in August rather than at the meeting prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
David Raul Lema Jr. is director of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Center for the Americas in Miami and a correspondent for Baptist Press.

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  • David Raul Lema Jr.