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‘Rise up in leadership,’ Page tells Hispanics

NASHVILLE (BP) — As the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, Hispanics are perhaps the Southern Baptist Convention’s greatest partner in winning the world for Christ, Frank Page said at the National Fellowship of Hispanic Southern Baptist Churches’ Sixth Annual Congress in Nashville.

Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, told Hispanics he looks forward to the SBC having its first of many Hispanic presidents.

“This past year our convention elected our first African American president, Pastor Fred Luter, and he has done a wonderful job because his heart is pure,” Page told the group on the opening evening of its Aug. 1-3 meeting at Haywood Hills Baptist Church.

“I want you to know that I look forward to the day when we have a Hispanic president as well. And I do not want it just to be one time, just as Pastor Fred Luter I hope is the first of many African American presidents,” Page said. “I look forward to the day when Hispanic leaders rise to the point of being president many, many times.”

The approximately 250 Hispanic leaders and worshippers met Page’s comments with applause.

“You have my promise that you’ll have my support and I will help you in any way I can,” Page told the group, “because if we’re going to reach this nation for Christ, we must reach all people groups.”

Page encouraged Hispanics to see the convention as their own, in equal partnership with other members.

“I want our convention to be the kind of body to where no one works over someone else, but where all of us work side by side,” Page said. “And so I want to encourage our Hispanic brothers and sisters, to not only be a part of our convention, which you are, but to rise up in leadership.”

Page’s words were encouraging, Elias Bracamonte, outgoing fellowship president and its newly elected executive director, told Baptist Press.

“We appreciate Dr. Frank Page’s greetings [on] behalf of the SBC, and his kind words of encouragement and uplifting,” said Bracamonte, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Topeka, Kan. “The SBC National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship is committed and thankful to be part of the Great Commission in doing Kingdom work.

“We’re here to be a blessing to the SBC, because we do have the same concerns about the Cooperative Program and baptisms, and we just want to be an arm … to assist wherever we can to reach people,” Bracamonte said. “Because the bottom line of the fellowship, it’s always been about missions, because we are part of the SBC and it’s about missions and it’s about reaching the lost, the world, for Christ.”

Hispanics, who form the second largest ethnic group in the SBC next to Anglos, focused on modeling Christian values in the contemporary family during the conference, with educational sessions to encourage youth and parents to lead godly lives and preserve the family unit. Samuel Otero, a family counselor and Texas evangelist, was the keynote speaker.

The fellowship elected as officers, in addition to Bracamonte, Cesar Haidar, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Dios te Ama in Fort Worth, Texas, president; Walter Montalvo, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Peniel in New York, first vice president; Francisco Nunez, an evangelist from Orchard Hills Baptist Church in Dallas, second vice president; Eduardo Cutino, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Parkland in Louisville, Ky., secretary; and Robert Lopez, pastor of Centro Cristiana Vida in Ocala, Fla., treasurer.

Bracamonte expressed appreciation for Ken Weathersby, the Executive Committee’s vice president for convention advancement, who met with fellowship leaders to offer guidance.

“He’s a very helpful person and very supportive,” Bracamonte said.

The fellowship scheduled its next congress for Aug. 7-9, 2014 at Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Passaic in Passaic, N.J.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).