Calling Hispanic church involvement “critical” for long-term sustainability of Southern Baptists’ efforts to reach the nation and the world with the Gospel, SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page received a report from the Hispanic Advisory Council at its final meeting and pledged to form an ongoing council representing the numerous racial, ethnic and language groups in the convention.
The council, encompassing Latino leaders from a broad spectrum of Spanish cultures across the United States, presented the 79-page report to Page at its March 20–21 meeting in Atlanta.
Compiled by co-chairs Bobby Sena and Daniel Sánchez, the HAC report was a “collaborative … effort by the members of the Hispanic Advisory Council who, in turn, sought information, observations, and recommendations (through personal interviews and surveys) from consultative groups representing churches, associations, state conventions,” fellowships and SBC entities.
The report completed the council’s three-year assignment.
Noting that the HAC information “was corroborated and supplemented” by reports by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pew Hispanic Center, the Barna Group, LifeWay Research and the North American Mission Board Center for Missional Research, the report also leaned heavily on “strategic observations of the HAC members based on their in-depth knowledge of the Hispanic culture as well as their extensive ministry experiences.”
Divided into five sections — knowing, evangelizing, congregationalizing, training and mobilizing Hispanics — the report noted that “Hispanics are transforming the nation’s social, economic, educational, political, and religious life.” The growth and dispersion of the Hispanic population present “enormous challenges and opportunities for Southern Baptists in their commitment to reach all segments of the population for Christ,” the report said.
The Hispanic population in the U.S. and Canada grew by 48 percent during the first decade of this century, from 38.2 million in 2000 to nearly 52 million in 2011. The report noted that two-thirds of all U.S. Hispanics live in five states — California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas.
“The rapid and widespread growth of North America’s Hispanic population sends Southern Baptists a clear message that we cannot reach all of North America for Christ without making an unprecedented commitment to evangelize and congregationalize this mission field at our doorsteps,” the report stated (emphasis in report).
In his oral summary, Sánchez reported that Arkansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and South Carolina experienced the most rapid Hispanic population growth, while Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia also saw more than 100 percent growth in Hispanic population during the same period.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Roger S. Oldham