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Vietnamese seek ‘next step’ during annual meeting

SEATTLE (BP) — In an apparent effort to better fulfill its purpose, the Vietnamese Baptist Fellowship of North America at its annual meeting moved to nearly double its budget.

It is $56,000 this year; messengers voted to make it $100,000 for 2017.

“We had much discussion about this,” said Paul Cao, vice president of the Southern Baptist ethnic fellowship that was started in 1984. Cao also is pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church in High Point, N.C.

In addition to Vietnamese Baptist churches’ support of the Cooperative Program, their local association and state convention — “We are very faithful with these,” Cao noted — the 157 Vietnamese churches that cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention gave $65,000 to the fellowship last year, $9,000 over budget.

The Fellowship’s leaders have been discussing the need to have at least a part-time executive director to help carry out the mission of the group, Cao noted. “When we come together we can share resources and help focus to reach the Vietnamese community in North America and around the world, especially Vietnam,” he said.

The Fellowship exists to encourage, strengthen and promote cooperation and unity among Vietnamese Baptist churches in the United States and to expand God’s Kingdom work in the U.S. and throughout the world, Cao said.
“Now we have to convince [cooperating churches] to each want to give a little more so we can take this next step,” he noted.

Paul Kim, national Asian American relations consultant for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, brought words of greeting and encouragement to the Vietnamese messengers.

The Fellowship plans to host four regional meetings in 2017 — in the West, Midwest, South and East Coast — to build on relationships forged by shared experience in a war-torn country as well as their faith in Jesus and their vision for doing God’s work where He has placed them, Cao said.

“Our saying is, ‘Together we can serve more effectively,'” Cao said. “With these regional meetings we want to encourage our churches and missions.”

The only other point of business, except for election of officers, was a status report from the constitution and bylaws committee. Originally planned to be ready for a vote this year, messengers instead gave the group another year to complete their work.

Election results

Re-elected to a second term as president was Lanh Phan, pastor of Agape Baptist Church in Seattle.

Cao was re-elected to a second term as vice president.

Hue Kieu, pastor of Faith and Hope Church in San Jose, Calif., was elected secretary.

Chuong Vo, pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., was elected treasurer.

The Vietnamese Baptist Fellowship of North America met June 30-July 3 at the Seattle Airport Marriott. In all, 724 adults registered from churches in 20 states, plus Vietnam, Canada and South Korea. In addition, 102 youngsters and 167 youth had their own programs using the Vacation Bible School curriculum “Armor of God.”

The totals included 25 pastors’ families from Vietnam, and a Vietnamese couple serving as missionaries in South Korea.

The five sessions for adults each were presented in two tracks, Vietnamese and English, to accommodate the needs of those in attendance. Each session — videotaped for live-streaming and digital download — featured a different speaker, each of whom spoke on The Renaissance Church.

The theme followed the chosen scriptural text from Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Speakers included Randy Adams, executive director/treasurer of the Northwest Baptist Convention in Vancouver, Wash.; Linh Doan, pastor of Thanh Le Church in Anaheim, Calif.; Duong Nguyen of Garland, Texas; Tan Ngo, pastor of Vietnamese Community Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Phan.

In his August newsletter to churches affiliated with the Vietnamese Baptist Fellowship of North America, Phan spoke of the excitement and energy annual meeting participants noted.

“After the conference, I have seen a revival from God for the church of God in which we serve,” Phan wrote. “The spirit of the congress is really excited. The spirit is strong.”

Five Vietnamese churches were started in North America within the last year, Cao reported.

The Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., was selected for the June 29-July 2, 2017, annual meeting.