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New churches, news from Puerto Rico fuel Hispanic network’s 5-year mark

ST. LOUIS (BP)–The launch of 274 new Hispanic Baptist churches last year — and the first steps toward a state Baptist convention in Puerto Rico — will be celebrated during the Fifth Annual Celebration of the SBC Hispanic Multiplying Church Network June 10 in St. Louis.

“The number of Hispanic churches involved in planting churches has increased,” said Bob Sena, manager of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board church planting group’s Hispanic unit. “The number of pastors burning with a desire to evangelize through new churches has also grown.

“The vision we’re trying to cast is that every church ought to be a multiplying church,” Sena said.

In Puerto Rico, 241 messengers from 41 churches met last October at Iglesia Bautista Glennview in Ponce to begin moving toward state convention status within the SBC. “This was the most diverse and across-the-board representation of churches they have had in many years,” Sena recounted.

“The meeting had all the ingredients of a revival,” he added, noting that the spirit continued into business sessions to discuss plans for the emerging convention.

Rene Pereira, pastor of the Glennview congregation, is expected to be in attendance during the network’s upcoming meeting in St. Louis.

The SBC Hispanic Multiplying Church Network first met in conjunction with the 1998 SBC annual meeting in Salt Lake City

Last year about 275 church planters and representatives of sponsoring churches attended the network’s meeting in New Orleans.

This year’s meeting, at St. Louis’ Tower Grove Baptist Church, will begin with a 6 p.m. dinner.

The program, which begins at 6:45, will include Robert E. Reccord, NAMB president; Richard Vera, pastor of Iglesia Emmanuel, Edgewater, Colo.; and Mauricio Vargas, Hispanic ministries consultant with the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Queries about the network and available resources for Hispanic church planting can be phoned to (770) 410-6227 or e-mailed to [email protected].

People of Hispanic origin now number 35 million in the United States, Sena said. “This population segment is made up of immigrants from 22 Spanish-speaking countries as well as Americans of Hispanic origin.

“What a challenge,” Sena said. “What an opportunity.”