Filipinos to rally for church planting challenge

HOUSTON (BP) -- The Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America will mark its 20th year as it meets Tuesday, June 11, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston.

The group, with about 220 affiliated churches in the United States and Canada, will gather for a luncheon and meeting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Houston-area First Philippine Baptist Church in Missouri City, Texas, at 15002 Hillcroft St.

First Philippine Baptist is one of the fastest-growing Filipino congregations in the United States, now averaging about 300 worshippers each week.

Ken Weathersby, vice president for convention advancement at the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, will be a guest speaker at the meeting.

Weathersby recently served as presidential ambassador for ethnic church relations at the North American Mission Board and has developed a strong relationship with Filipino Baptists over the years.

"Ken never misses the annual meeting. He's been a good friend to the national Filipino fellowship and to so many Filipino pastors," Roger Manao, president of the fellowship, said. "I know he considers this fellowship part of his commitment every year."

Manao, pastor of Philadelphia Bible Church International in North Philadelphia, expects Weathersby to inspire pastors to get involved in church planting, which is a major emphasis of the fellowship.

"The population of Filipinos is growing all over the United States and Canada, but the churches are not reproducing," Manao said, adding that he estimates nearly 4 million Filipinos are living in the United States and Canada. "That's a challenge for the churches and the pastors."

Jeremy Sin, a national coordinator for church mobilization at the North American Mission Board, also will speak at the meeting, Manao said. Sin has been another faithful supporter of the Filipino fellowship.

Regional leaders of the fellowship will report on their areas during the meeting, Manao said, again with a particular emphasis on church planting.

The Asian Multiplication Evangelical Network, a ministry of the Filipino fellowship, continues to host church planting awareness seminars in partnership with NAMB. Last year there were two such seminars, one in Southern California and one in Maryland. So far this year they've had one in northern California.

"We were trying to get Filipino pastors in the northern California region to really get involved in church planting. I'd like to see churches reproduced and multiplying," Manao said.

"I know it might be the focus of every pastor to grow the church, and I think that's fine, but seeing the lostness of so many Filipinos in the United States, I pray that they would see the challenge and they would encourage their churches to get involved in church planting. That's my vision. That's my passion," Manao said.

Looking to Houston, Manao's prayer is that more people will attend this year's meeting than in the past. He expects a higher attendance simply because Houston, being a major city, is more accessible by air to Filipino pastors throughout the United States.

"I've heard some California pastors say their families are coming to Houston as well," he said. "So I'm looking forward to a bigger attendance this year, and it's my prayer that the fellowship will really inspire them and encourage them as they see friends that they haven't seen in the past year or two years."

To register for the meeting, email Manao at rmanao@aol.com or call him at 610-580-8635. The fellowship also has a Facebook page and will post updates about the June gathering as the date approaches.


Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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