SBC Life Articles

Southern Baptist Ethnic Gatherings In Phoenix

Illustrating the SBC Kingdom Mosaic

Black Southern Baptist Network Spotlighting Church Planters
With 600 church planters of African-American heritage added to the rolls of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network last year, the network’s annual meeting this year will focus on how the organization encourages its members professionally and personally.

The network will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in Mesa, Arizona, 931 S. Stapley Drive in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb about 20 miles east of the Phoenix Convention Center, site of the 2011 SBC annual meeting.

“The North American Mission Board counts these African-American church planters as missionaries; this makes them denominational servants,” said Jeffrey Curtis, president of the Black Denominational Servants Network and a black church relations consultant with LifeWay Christian Resources.

“Tom [Kelley, retired from the California Southern Baptist Convention] always said that you have to learn to read the menu,” Curtis said. “You have to understand how the denomination works in order to contribute to and benefit from being part of it. What better way to understand the SBC than to connect with and network with black denominational workers? And for our part, as the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network, we want to be sure these 600 or more black church planters across the SBC have all the encouragement—both professionally and personally—that they need to be a transforming agent for their churches and communities.”

On Saturday, June 11, the network will host 80 or more church leaders for an 8 a.m. “Recharging Your Sunday School” seminar at Canaan to be led by Elgia “Jay” Wells, Charles Grant, and Curtis, all from LifeWay.

“This seminar will help church leaders understand the purpose of Sunday School for church growth,” Curtis said. It’s not limited to people who live in the Metro Phoenix area, he added. “No matter what part of the country you’re from, you’ll get a great deal from Recharging Your Sunday School. We’ll be leading it in an African American context.”

Southern Baptist Native Americans Meeting in Phoenix
The Fellowship of Native American Christians (FoNAC), scheduled to meet June 13 in Phoenix, will discuss the need for an executive director and a regional liaison network with Indian churches in state conventions, according to Emerson Falls, president of the Southern Baptist ethnic fellowship.

The FoNAC meeting, from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, June 13, will be in Room 226A of the North Building at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Anyone with an interest in ministry with Native Americans is invited to attend.

“We try to get together once a year at the Southern Baptist Convention,” Falls said. “Primarily what we’re going to focus on this year is to try to connect regionally. One state convention doesn’t know what another state convention does, and while that is understandable, it would be helpful to know.”

FoNAC often receives requests from churches that want to send mission teams to reservation towns, and too often FoNAC doesn’t know who has needs in which states, Falls said, noting that regional representatives should alleviate that concern.

Groundwork for FoNAC was discussed at the 2007 SBC annual meeting when leaders met to create a group to increase networking, fellowship, leadership, and ministry opportunities; the group officially organized at the 2008 SBC annual meeting.

The responsibilities and opportunities of FoNAC have expanded to the point that the organization’s president said he can’t do justice to the fellowship and his duties as pastor of Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“We need to do a better job of strengthening across state convention lines,” Falls said. “Our organization has grown to the point that we need an executive director, someone who can devote all his time to it.”

With The Gathering for Spiritual Awakening among Native Americans that took place in early March in Oklahoma City, and The North American Native Peoples Summit in late April in Springdale, Arkansas, interest is high across the SBC in working with—not for—Native American Southern Baptists.

The Southern Baptist Convention includes about 450 churches that worship in a Native American Baptist context.

“Every state convention has Indian churches” Falls said in a September 2008 article in Baptist Press written by Bob Nigh. “So one of the purposes is to fellowship—to have a way to network nationally, stay in touch, find out about each other’s needs, and find ways to work together.”

FoNAC’s second purpose, Falls continued in the 2008 article, is to give Native American Baptist churches a unified voice. “No one really is addressing some of the issues that we feel are relevant to the Native American church,” Falls said. “This gives us some visibility and gives us the voice to point out some of the concerns we have as the Native American church.”

National African American Fellowship Meeting At The SBC
The National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention has modified its annual meeting to coordinate with the schedule and emphasis surrounding this year’s SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

The NAAF annual banquet, which previously was held on Monday evening, has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, in Room 129 A/B, Level 100, at the Phoenix Convention Center, site of most SBC annual meeting activities.

NAAF’s president, James Dixon Jr., said the fellowship is “changing our banquet time because we want to attend the Pastors’ Conference. On Monday night there is going to be a commitment time for pastors to sign up to sponsor a church plant. I think there is a good opportunity for us to participate in the way the North American Mission Board is working to set up a network of churches for church planting.”

NAAF’s schedule also will include participation in Crossover Phoenix activities; a Sunday evening worship service; and a Monday afternoon business session.

“We’re going to give support to and work along with the African-American churches participating in the Phoenix Crossover,” said Dixon, pastor of El-Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Maryland. “There is strength in numbers, and if that strength is empowered by God, we can help strengthen African American churches across the region.”

The Sunday worship service is slated for 6:30 p.m. June 12 at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, 931 S. Stapley Drive in Mesa, about 20 miles east of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Canaan, dually aligned with the Southern and National Baptist Conventions and started in 1989, has grown to more than 350 families who have “One voice, one vision, one victory,” according to the church’s website. Sherman Fort has been pastor nearly from the beginning of the congregation, when the founding pastor was transferred with the military. The vocational staff includes three other pastors and several ministry leaders.

In keeping with NAMB’s church planting emphasis, Canaan is among the sponsors of the Live Laugh and Love Fellowship in Tempe, which met for its first worship service March 6.

Sunday evening’s guest speaker will be Tyrone Barnette, founding pastor of the Atlanta-area Peace Baptist Church in Decatur. Six years after Peace was established in 1993, it started the first of what are now six church plants across Metro Atlanta. Canaan’s music ministry will provide worship leadership for the gathering.

The annual NAAF business meeting, including the election of officers, will be at 4 p.m. Monday in Room 230, Level 200, of the convention center.

“My objective is to bring about community among all people groups within the SBC family,” Dixon said. “It is my desire to build upon the present foundation whereby people will bring value to, and see value in, what we do as a fellowship.”

National Fellowship of Hispanic Southern Baptist Churches—Helping Local Churches Reach Their Jerusalem
The National Fellowship of Hispanic Southern Baptist Churches will join with sixteen local Hispanic churches in hosting evangelistic outreach events in the greater Phoenix area in the week leading up to the SBC annual meeting.

The activities will kick off June 5 at 6:00 pm with a Hispanic rally of local churches at First Spanish Baptist Church of Phoenix. On Monday through Thursday, June 6–9, participating Hispanic congregations in the area will coordinate and conduct evangelistic crusades throughout the region.

On Friday, June 10, and Saturday, June 11, the sixteen Hispanic congregations will host evangelistic block parties in their respective communities.

The week will conclude with the annual Hispanic Celebration service, 6 p.m., June 12, at Phoenix’s Central High School.

Filipino Baptists Meeting At The SBC
The Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America will meet Tuesday, June 14, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.

The group, with about 200 affiliated churches in the United States, will gather for a luncheon and meeting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at North Phoenix Baptist Church, located at 5757 North Central Avenue.

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, will be the featured speaker. The fellowship was founded eighteen years ago and meets each year during the convention.

“The highlight of our meeting will be the reports and challenge for the Filipino church planting initiatives all over the United States,” Roger Manao, president of the fellowship, told Baptist Press. “We’ll include in our reports the SBC Philippines, the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary, and their church planting initiatives.”

Manao, pastor of Philadelphia Bible Church International in North Philadelphia, said information from NAMB and the Filipino community suggests more than 3 million Filipinos live in the United States, indicating a tremendous need for more churches to reach them with the Gospel.

Last year the Asian Multiplication Evangelical Network was established within the Filipino Fellowship to promote awareness of church planting, motivate pastors and leaders to participate, and partner with existing organizations to advance church planting among Filipinos.

The network also seeks to train, deploy, and support church planters, with a goal of planting thirty Filipino churches in ten years in the United States.

“My goal is that pastors and messengers attending the annual meeting would partner with us for church planting,” Manao said. “We enjoy seeing each other during our annual fellowship. The pastors know each other already, and they enjoy fellowship as well. It’s about inspiring them and encouraging them to partner.”


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