SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Southern Baptist ministry to Hispanics can be dated to 1861, when a Mexican woman, Angela Maria de Jesus Navarro (her father was a hero of the Alamo), who had married a William Cook, became one of 13 charter members of First Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas. A mission to Hispanics was begun in the next couple of years, but because no Baptist was available, a pastor from another denomination was called to lead the mission. The pastor subsequently was terminated for doctrinal reasons, and the mission died.
Bible salesman W.T. Powell in 1888 started First Mexican Baptist Church in San Antonio, the first permanent Southern Baptist ministry to Hispanics. More information about early Hispanic work can be read in “Ethnic Baptist History,” with a section on Hispanics written by Joshua Grijalva, a 52-year missionary with the Home Mission Board, precursor to the North American Mission Board.
Grijalva recently self-published “Two Millenniums of Baptist History in Spanish,” which includes a detailed look at the SBC’s ministry to Hispanics. This book is available by writing Grijalva at 222 Highview Drive, San Antonio, TX 78228.
Also in the late 1880s, a woman in Key West, Fla., started a Bible study for Hispanics, which subsequently spawned Southern Baptist work in Cuba, according to information in Oscar Romo’s files. Romo, who is working on a book, “The Spanish Evangelical Legacy,” served 46 years on the staff of the Home Mission Board, retiring in 1995 as director of language missions.