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NAMB appoints task force on reaching Hispanics

ALPHARETTA, Ga (BP)–Citing an increasing openness to the Gospel within the growing Hispanic population in the United States, North American Mission Board President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord has appointed a task force to help Southern Baptists reach this vital people group.

“The explosive growth of the Hispanic population is surpassing even the most aggressive demographic projections,” Reccord said. Even though Southern Baptists are starting 240 new churches per year in predominately Hispanic communities, Reccord noted, “There are literally thousands of Hispanic communities throughout North America without an evangelical witness. It is going to take unprecedented communication and cooperation between national, state and local SBC leaders to reach Hispanics in North America for Christ.

“To help us determine the needs, concerns and dreams of our Hispanic Baptist churches, I’ve invited many of our Hispanic leaders to meet together as a task force to advise our NAMB leadership,” Reccord announced.

The 15-member task force will be chaired by Daniel Sanchez, director of the Scarborough Center for Church Planting and Church Growth and professor of missions since 1983 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Gustavo Suarez, director of missions for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, will be the vice chairman.

Sanchez welcomed the appointment and the assignment.

“As Hispanic Baptist leaders, we are faced with the awesome challenge of discerning the signs of the times and providing leadership in designing creative, bold and culturally relevant strategies for reaching our people for Christ in larger numbers than we have ever done before,” Sanchez said.

“We’ve been invited to work with NAMB’s mission strategists to study the best opportunities for reaching Hispanics, develop a report with recommendations to their executive staff and then dialogue about ways the recommendations can be implemented cooperatively. It’s an exciting challenge and opportunity,” Sanchez said.

Appointees to the task force with Sanchez and Suarez include Herbert Becerra, pastor of Iglesia Baustista, Plantation, Fla., and president of the National Fellowship of Hispanic Southern Baptist Churches; Fermin Whitaker, executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention; Joshua DelRisco, interfaith evangelism associate, NAMB, Oklahoma City; Mike Gonzales, director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Hispanic Initiative; David Guel, church planting consultant, Baptist General Convention of Texas; Frank Moreno, director of Hispanic and international church planting, Florida Baptist Convention; Chuy Avila, Spanish language director, Tennessee Baptist Convention; Ali Velasquez, Hispanic consultant, South Carolina Baptist Convention; and Mauricio Vargas, language program leader, Missouri Baptist Convention.

Also appointed were pastors David Galvan of Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, Garland, Texas, and a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Julio Cornelio of Iglesia Bautista Resurreccion, Bergenfield, N.J.; and Ruben Torres of Iglesia Bautista Victoria En Cristo, Jonesboro, Ga.

Bobby Sena will serve as NAMB’s primary liaison with the task force.

The task force is expected to meet several times with additional subcommittee meetings and conference calls before submitting its recommendations to NAMB sometime next year.

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