Fla. Hispanic gatherings highlight 'Gospel Above All'
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (BP) -- More than 1,000 Hispanic Florida Baptists are coming together across the state for the annual Hispanic State Fellowship gathering focusing on the Great Commission.
Bobby Sena, Hispanic relations consultant for the SBC Executive Committee, said the three regional celebration and equipping meetings are "a time to celebrate what God has done in our lives, churches and ministries; a time to remind us that our priority is to proclaim the Gospel in our Hispanic community and beyond; and [a time when] a spirit of unity will glorify God, strengthen the church and impact many with a Gospel witness."
Emanuel Roque, Hispanic church catalyst of the Florida Baptist Convention, said pastor David Perez of Primera Iglesia Bautista Casa de Bendicion in St. Cloud, Fla., is leading the Fellowship of the Hispanic Churches in Florida, with 355-plus churches and hundreds of ministries in a movement to highlight reaching all Hispanic people in Florida.
The first of the three meetings took place at Iglesia Real in Hollywood on Aug. 10 led by pastor Martin Vargas, with involvement by six local Hispanic fellowships. The second, on Aug. 17, was at Iglesia Bautista Central Kissimmee, encompassing five fellowships. The next will be Aug. 24 at Primera Iglesia Bautista Tallahassee for north Florida, encompassing three fellowships.
Roque credited various organizations and leaders for "the strong beginning and launch" of this year's gatherings, citing the Fellowship of the Hispanic Churches in Florida; its president, David Perez; Al Fernandez from the Florida convention; James Peoples with the Send Florida network; Sena; Ramon Osorio of the North American Mission Board; Oscar Tortolero from the International Mission Board; "and the incredible support of many others locally."
Sena preached at both meetings and also will preach at the next gathering, underscoring to Hispanics the urgency of reaching all people groups with the Gospel. Osorio, NAMB's national church mobilizer, is conveying a presentation on the Send Florida network and Who's Your One? initiative. Chris Wong, NAMB's second generation church mobilizer, also is addressing the meetings about reaching second-generation Hispanics in their communities.
"We are a diverse convention," said Fernandez, southeast regional catalyst of the Florida convention. "Hispanics need to be involved and be seen in Baptist life. We are responsible before God for our communities, state and nation."
The meetings will lead the way to the Florida Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Orlando this fall and also create momentum for the Southern Baptist Hispanic Leaders Celebration prior to next year's SBC annual meeting, also in Orlando.
Roque said these will be the "largest-ever statewide and SBC Hispanic celebrations sharing the Gospel and representing our unity and presence. This is truly historic and momentous."
Looking toward the 2020 Hispanic celebration, Sena said leaders are "hoping, praying and working to have 750 to 1000 people from across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and we are thrilled to announce that Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, will be the preacher for this historic event. The Orlando celebration will be a worship service to glorify God; declare the unity among Hispanic Baptists; and highlight the contribution of Hispanic Southern Baptist to the Kingdom and the SBC."