SBC Life Articles

CONVENTION ADVANCEMENT: Executive Committee Receives Input from Advisory Groups

Three advisory groups gave input to SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page and his staff during the month of April.

The month opened with representatives from African American, Asian, and Hispanic advisory councils meeting with representatives of the six SBC seminaries, a Baptist university, and the director of seminary extension.

Page opened the summit by addressing the what and the why of the meeting. Hearing a common concern from the advisory councils he had appointed in consultation with NAMB president Kevin Ezell in response to the Ethnic Study Committee Report adopted by the SBC in its 2011 annual meeting, he found that many ethnic and language church leaders feel the seminaries may not be aware of the unique cultural and educational needs of their churches.

On the other hand, Page felt that many ethnic churches and leaders are unaware of the full range of ministerial training options currently available to Southern Baptists through the seminaries.

Calling the meeting a “listening session,” Page asked long-time Southern Baptist educator David S. Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, to chair the April 2 meeting at the SBC Building in Nashville to foster dialogue between the two groups on these matters.

Citing a “fresh sense of collaboration for the Gospel,” Dockery gave a devotional from Philippians 1:27, Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the Gospel (emphasis supplied).

Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions and founding director of the Scarborough Institute for Church Growth at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented an overview of the needs faced by Hispanic and other minority groups for entry-level, low-cost, non-traditional, quality ministerial training and education for pastors and other God-called ministers of the Gospel.

He noted the urgent need for a “ramp” system by which non-accredited and/or non-degree coursework can lead to admission in degree-seeking courses as students become more fully equipped to pursue accredited higher education goals in specialized fields of study.

Following his presentation, each seminary representative gave an overview of degree and certificate course options the seminaries provide for ministerial training of God-called men and women.

They also addressed broader cultural themes, challenges posed by licensing requirements for higher education which can vary from state to state, and the financial costs associated with creation of new educational initiatives.

Some of the course highlights included:

• Golden Gate’s Contextualized Leadership Development (CLD) certificate program, with more than one thousand students enrolled in sixty-six centers, taught in more than a dozen languages.

• Korean and Spanish programs at Midwestern, ranging from a CLD certificate program to the Doctor of Ministry degree.

• Certificate and basic degree programs through New Orleans’ numerous off-campus sites in South Florida, Atlanta, and New Orleans, as well as in prisons in three states.

• An adopted five-year “measurable goals” plan at Southeastern to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups among students, faculty, and staff.

• Certificate and degree programs at Southern in Vietnamese, Spanish, and Korean.

• Intercultural degree programs in Spanish and Korean at Southwestern.

• Training at the university level of those professionals who will become the “discipled donor base” in our churches through liberal arts education at Union and other Baptist colleges and universities. These are the ones who will provide funding for ministerial training for our seminaries.

Following the presentations, Dockery opened the floor for questions, giving representatives from the ethnic advisory councils an opportunity to dialogue with the presenters.

Presenters included Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Seminary; Jimmy Dukes, professor of New Testament and Greek and director of New Orleans Baptist Seminary’s prison programs; Bruce Ashford, provost and dean of faculty at Southeastern Seminary; Greg Wills, professor of history, vice president for research and assessment, and director of the Center for the Study of the Southern Baptist Convention at Southern Seminary; and Sanchez.

Also presenting were Greg Thornbury, dean of the school of theology and professor of philosophy at Union University, and Randal Williams, director of Seminary Extension, a ministry of the six seminaries.

A more comprehensive overview of the services offered by the seminaries will appear in the summer issue of SBC LIFE.

Nineteen members of the newly-appointed Asian Advisory Council met with Page and other EC staff to discuss ways the SBC and Asian Baptist churches can partner to more effectively reach our nation with the Gospel. The Council began with a fellowship dinner on April 10, reconvening for an all-day session on April 11.

The Council is a three-year ministry initiative established by the Page and Ezell in an ongoing effort to engage the many faces of the SBC in meaningful dialogue about how we can work together as full and equal partners in the harvest.

Ken Weathersby, EC vice president for convention advancement, led small group and large group discussions on the following topics:

• Resources that would be helpful to assist churches in discipleship, evangelism, and missions efforts in the United States and globally;

• Best practices among Asian churches in those same areas;

• Community Needs in the communities served by their churches that could provide opportunities for ministry;

• Ways Asian Baptists currently serve in Convention life;

• Steps the SBC can take to benefit from the valuable input of Asian Baptists to strengthen our cooperative efforts to reach our nation and the world with the Gospel; and

• Their vision for Asian Baptist work in the United States.

Council members were asked, “If there was one thing you could ask the Executive Committee, what would it be?” The responses were varied, but centered on several key components:

• A desire to be seen as equal partners in Southern Baptist work;

• A desire for additional resources and training opportunities in their native or “heart” languages; and

• A willingness to participate in development of resources and strategies for church planting, evangelism, discipleship, and missions.

Paul Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was elected chairman. Jerry Lepasana, senior pastor, Bible Church International in Randolph, New Jersey, and Alan Chan, church ministry coordinator, Mandarin Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California, were elected co-vice chairmen of the Council.

The month closed with the second meeting of the Hispanic Advisory Council, named in 2011. Following a fellowship dinner on April 23, Page interacted with formal presentations by eleven members of the Council on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The meeting was held at the Riley Center on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

During the past year, members have engaged more than six hundred pastors, church leaders, and church volunteers from Spanish-language and English-language Hispanic congregations in “consultative groups” to amass as comprehensive a picture as possible of the needs and contributions of Hispanic Baptists to Kingdom work. The purpose of this year’s meeting was to share their findings with Page and the EC.

Weathersby presented a strategic overview about next steps for the Council as it enters its mid-point in the initial three-year assignment. Page closed the meeting with a devotional from Micah 6:8 encouraging members to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly” in their service for the Lord and to others.
Presenters included:

• Daniel Sanchez, on the growth and influence of Hispanics and Hispanic culture;

• Joshua Del Risco, on effective evangelistic practices among Spanish-language churches;

• Yolanda Calderon, on needs women face in the Hispanic communities;

• Daisy Rios, on women’s ministries ideas and input;

• Jorge Melendez; on encouraging associational participation;

• Salomón Orellana; on church planting and inner-city ministry needs;

• Gustavo Suarez, on theological education;

• Fermín Whittaker, on state convention involvement;

• Mike Gonzales, on discipleship strategies among Spanish-language congregations in Texas;

• Daniel “Tiny” Dominguez, on English-language Hispanic congregations; and

• Luis Lopez, on resources available through LifeWay Christian Resources.


    About the Author

  • Roger S. Oldham