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PHOTO ESSAY: Pastor Herberto Becerra added a family touch to SBC meeting

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NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The demographics of the Southern Baptist Convention are changing.

For many years, the vast majority of messengers to the SBC annual meeting were Anglo. However, the number of Hispanic messengers who attend the SBC is growing, as are the numbers blacks and other minorities.

Herberto Becerra, who attended this year’s SBC annual meeting in New Orleans, is pastor of First Hispanic Baptist Church in Plantation, Fla., and president of Confratrnidad Nacional de Iglesias Hispana Bautistas de Sur [CNIHBS, the National Fellowship of Hispanic Baptist Churches].

Becerra left Cuba in 1980 where he had been a pastor 17 years; four years later, a congressman’s appeal to Fidel Castro helped Becerra’s family also leave the communist country. Before moving to Florida several years ago, Becerra had been pastor of First Hispanic Baptist Church in Manhattan.

As president of CNIHBS, he was responsible for this year’s annual Hispanic fellowship, June 9-10 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The event was a family and church affair for the Becerras.

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His daughter, Mabel, sang special music and led his church’s choir. A special guest to the meeting was Becerra’s mother, Dolores, a resident of Cuba who attended the Hispanic fellowship for the first time.

After the weekend meeting, Becerra’s family returned to Florida and his mother returned to Cuba, but he stayed for the convention. He spent his time collecting information about various church resources, networking with other pastors and attending sessions.

One difficulty that Becerra faced during the annual meeting was the language barrier.

“Language is a problem for many brothers and sisters,” Becerra said. “In the future it will be very important to provide translation [at the convention].

“I understand 90 percent of the sermon and 75 percent of the music, but the regular Hispanic person would understand nothing,” Becerra said.

Providing Spanish-language translation in the SBC meetings “would provide more opportunities for participation for the Hispanic pastors and leaders in the convention,” he said.
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Webb is a student at Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, N.C. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: SBC MESSENGER’S MEETING PATH INCLUDES TIME FOR PRAISE AND WORSHIP; READING THE SCHEDULE, CHECING IT TWICE; UNDERSTANDING THE MESSENGER CREDENTIAL PROCESS; OLD FRIEND REUNITE AT SBC; BECERRA PRESIDES OVER MEETING; FANCY MEETING YOU HERE and SAYING FAREWELL TO LOVED ONES.