News Articles

Hispanic St. Louis community in Crossover plans

ST. LOUIS (BP) — Already a hub of ethnic outreach, Tower Grove Baptist Church in central St. Louis will extend the Gospel to a nearby Hispanic community during Crossover.

A yearly evangelistic outreach, Crossover precedes the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in the host city. It will peak on Saturday, June 12, as local Baptists and volunteers from across the country conduct block parties and other community events throughout the metro St. Louis area.

For Tower Grove, its Hispanic initiative will entail:

— a 10 a.m. Sunday worship service June 12 following six days of house-to-house visits by a contingent of bilingual students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

— hosting the National Baptist Hispanic Fellowship’s prayer and fellowship gathering from 2-4 p.m. that Sunday.

Elias Bracamonte, the Hispanic fellowship’s vice president and associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., will preach at the Sunday service and lead the afternoon Hispanic gathering.

Tower Grove, marking its 125th year in 2016, already is home to Burmese, Swahili and Vietnamese congregations in various parts of its building at 4257 Magnolia Ave.

Chris Coury, Tower Grove’s senior pastor, cited the availability of the Spanish-speaking seminarians and Bracamonte in noting that “God has brought this together” toward starting a Hispanic church.

“I believe God put us here to reach these ethic groups that are in this area,” Coury said of the initiative toward the nearby heavily Hispanic community called Cherokee.

Chad Logan, Tower Grove’s worship and education pastor and a former International Mission Board missionary in Spain and England, will lead the Hispanic service where Bracamonte will be preaching and Malena Towers of Dallas will be the featured singer in the church’s sound-equipped youth room.

“We will be having lunch after the service and then opening our building for the community,” Logan said. “We have a skating rink, bowling alley, game room and a gym that we will be opening up. We will have bouncy houses and children’s activities on the grounds as well.

“We will also be having organizations to help with the immigration process as well as health and wellness organizations providing free services for those families that need it.”

The bilingual seminary contingent will be among 75 Southwestern students taking an evangelism class led by instructor of evangelism Brandon Kiesling.

‘Awaken America’

At the subsequent National Baptist Hispanic Fellowship gathering, Bracamonte said attendees will hear from Guillermo Soriano of North Carolina, one of the organizers of the new SBC Hispanic Leaders and Pastors Network, and Ramón Osorio, national church mobilizer with the SBC North American Mission Board.

Soriano, consultant for North Carolina Baptists in Hispanic evangelism and discipleship, has described a vision for the network to nurture collaboration and communication among Hispanic pastors, leaders, churches, associations, fellowships, networks and organizations and with SBC entities for the fulfillment of the Great Commission with the Great Commandment.

Bracamonte said the Hispanic fellowship’s session in St. Louis will parallel the SBC annual meeting’s theme: “Awaken America, Reach the World” drawn from Acts 4:31.

“Everyone is welcome,” Bracamonte said. “We are excited to be part of Awaken America. More than ever, we need to reach out to this lost generation with unity and prayer. The National Baptist Hispanic Fellowship is thankful to be part of the missions effort to promote baptisms and Cooperative Program giving.”

Bracamonte added thanks to Frank S. Page, SBC Executive Committee president, for leading Southern Baptists to be “more inclusive to [ethnic Baptists] to participate in ministry within the convention and to work together for Kingdom work.”

The National Baptist Hispanic Fellowship, organized in the 1980s, is the oldest Hispanic organization in Southern Baptist life. Bracamonte said its annual meeting will focus on prayer for spiritual awakening, Oct. 27-29 at Iglesia Bautista Casa de Dios in Wichita, Kan.

Hispanic involvement in the SBC annual meeting will heighten Sunday and Monday evenings, June 12-13, with two large-scale events:

— the annual AVANCE dinner and celebration Sunday evening sponsored by the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, GuideStone Financial Resources and the Executive Committee.

— an inaugural meeting — with a dinner, TED-styled talks and panel discussion — of the new Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance on Monday evening.

For a Baptist Press overview of Hispanic activities in St. Louis in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting, click here.