PLANO, Texas (BP) – Although limited in attendance due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, attendees at the Vietnamese Baptist Union of North America’s 36th annual conference held July 1-4 voted to expand its mission efforts, elect an executive director and adopt the Vision 2025 platform.
An online audience joined the crowd of more than 1,200, said Peter Yanes, executive director of Asian American Relations and Mobilization for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. It came close to the 1,500 attendees seen in recent years, Yanes added, but showed the impact of crowd size mandates in place by the venue as well as travel restrictions affecting leaders and pastors from Canada, Vietnam and Europe who normally attend.
Speakers focused on the meeting’s theme, “Pressing On Toward the Goal,” and central verse of Phil. 3:12-14. Ronnie Floyd also became the first sitting president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee to address the gathering.
Attendees elected Christian Phan as the group’s first executive director and Phuc Le, pastor of Vietnamese Faith Baptist Church in Dallas, as president. Phan will serve in the executive director role on a part-time basis while keeping his pastorate at Agape Baptist Church in Renton, Wash., for the next two years. At that point he will become the Vietnamese Baptist Union’s full-time executive director.
The group is currently searching for a director to head up its efforts for evangelism among children and also voted to increase its budget for student ministry, Phan told Baptist Press.
“This meeting attracted about 300 young people and 200 children,” he said. “We are very interested in spreading the Gospel and planting new churches to Vietnamese people in the United States and around the world. And since the percentage of Vietnamese people who accept Jesus as their Savior is still very low, we are focused on the Great Commission.”
The new organizational structure, Phan explained, will help focus the ongoing work of the Union. To that end, the group divided the United States into eight regions and Canada into two in order “to easily serve and support local churches.” Each region will have a pastor representing the Union and be encouraged to take special offerings on Tet (Lunar New Year’s Day) to further missions efforts.
“We dream of equipping and sending many volunteer missionaries to share the Gospel of Jesus to Vietnamese and other people groups around the world,” added Phan.
Yanes said the Vietnamese Baptist Union consists of some 146 churches to reach an estimated 2.2 million Vietnamese living in the U.S. Most recently, the group started its first Vietnamese church in Massachusetts, the 31st state to have an SBC Vietnamese congregation.
Floyd’s presentation of Vision 2025 encouraged the group, said Yanes, a Filipino who was introduced as the first Asian American to serve at his level with the Executive Committee. Phan and other Vietnamese Baptist Union leaders voted to adopt the Vision 2025 emphasis and participate through setting up goals to match its platform.
The Vietnamese Baptist Union of North America is one of the nine organized Asian fellowships in partnership with the Asian American Collective – a missional strategic network among 2,107 Asian Churches – of the Great Commission Relations and Mobilization Team at the Executive Committee led by Willie McLaurin.
The Vietnamese Baptist Union will hold its next gathering June 30-July 3, 2022, at the LAX Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif. A record attendance is expected due to the large Vietnamese population in Southern California, Phan noted.