Filipinos to stress partnership, church planting

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) -- "Partnership in the Gospel" will be the theme and church planting a main emphasis when the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America convenes in conjunction with the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Ala.

Pastor Felix Sermon Jr., vice president for the East Coast Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship, prays for Pastor Alvin Camota of Suffern, N.Y., at the 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas. Camota was elected vice president of the Second-Generation Asian American Fellowship.
BP file photo by Kathleen Murray
The fellowship will shift its traditional Tuesday meeting time to Monday so fellowship members also can participate fully in the SBC annual meeting, which convenes June 11-12. Filipino Southern Baptists will gather Monday, June 10 from 1-5 p.m. in East Ballroom B at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Guest speakers will include Allen Hill, director of missions for the Appalachee Baptist Association in Monroe, Ga., and Rick Wheeler, lead missional strategist for the Jacksonville (Fla.) Baptist Association. Hill, a former missionary to the Philippines for more than 20 years, will address the meeting's "partnership in the Gospel" theme while Wheeler will present a seminar on servant leadership.

Fellowship president Dan Santiago hopes the emphasis on partnership will inspire new levels of commitment by Filipino churches.

"Our fellowship is kind of loose," said Santiago, pastor of Covenant Christian Church in Jacksonville. But last year, "we started gathering membership for the fellowship so we can have a clear commitment from churches. We were able to gather about 50 churches out of the 200 [total Filipino Southern Baptist congregations]. We're still trying to reach out to them."

One aim of the fellowship's call for increased commitment, Santiago said, is to raise $36,000 for partial support of three new Filipino church planters. Already, plans are underway to plant a church in Dallas in conjunction with Biblical Community Church in Richardson, Texas, and the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Locations for the other two new church plants will be determined based on requests from Filipino congregations, Santiago said, noting there are about 4 million Filipinos in the United States. The national fellowship's plants will supplement church planting efforts by local coalitions of Filipino churches, as have occurred in New York and California.

To better assist churches, Filipino Fellowship leaders have attended North American Mission Board training sessions on church planting, coaching and replanting, Santiago said.

"We can do the church planting work if these individual churches will participate," Santiago said. His goal is for 30 churches each to commit $100 per month for church planting.

In other business, the fellowship will elect a new slate of officers to serve for the next two years. Filipino Baptists also will recognize new church planters as well as pastors who have served for at least 20 years.

To register for the annual meeting, email Santiago at drsantyago@gmail.com. The fellowship has a Facebook page and will post updates on the June gathering as it approaches.

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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