ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–A record 1,747 new Southern Baptist congregations were added during 1999, according to a recent report compiled by the North American Mission Board. The previous record of 1,504 set in 1996.
Additionally, more than half of the congregations started were ethnic and African American — an indication of successful ongoing efforts to expand the Southern Baptist cultural base.
“For so long Southern Baptists have been viewed by the world as white Anglo southerners, and that is the case no longer,” said Robert E. Reccord, NAMB’s president.
A record 675 of the churches were ethnic (non-African American) congregations, including 311 Hispanic, 32 Haitian and 56 Korean. New African American congregations numbered 225.
“I think it’s fantastic that Southern Baptists are beginning to get back to New Testament evangelism and outreach through the planting of churches,” said Richard Harris, NAMB’s vice president for church planting. “These numbers reflect that God is creating church-planting movements in North America as well as around the world.”
The total number of new congregations included 154 existing churches that affiliated with Southern Baptists during the year.
States with the highest number of church plants for the year were Texas, 203; California, 184; Florida, 142; Louisiana, 79; and Indiana, with 72. States with the largest net increase in church plants from 1998 to 1999 were Missouri, with an increase of 54; Louisiana, 44; Florida, 23; Oklahoma, 22; and Indiana, 21.