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BALTIMORE (BP) -- There are 4 million Filipinos in the United States and Canada but only about 200 Filipino Southern Baptist churches. That's just one church for every 20,000 Filipinos.
Lowering that ratio by planting churches will be the focus of the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America's annual meeting June 9-10 in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore.
The group will gather for a dinner fellowship Monday, June 9, from 5-7 p.m. at Redeemer International Baptist Church in Baltimore at 2320 Alma Road. A basketball game pitting pastors against laymen will follow at a nearby gym. The annual meeting Tuesday, June 10, will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Holiday Ballroom, section 5, at the Hilton Baltimore.
Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, will be a speaker at the meeting. The gathering's theme is "Multiply," emphasizing the need for Filipino church planting.
"The biggest challenge is finding the next church planters who will commit to reach our people in various metro areas with the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Peter Yanes, president of the fellowship, said. "To address that, we need every local church to be intentional in developing their church members as the new generation of church planters to reach our own people."
The Filipino Fellowship hopes to establish partnerships with other Asian Southern Baptist groups to help reach Filipinos in areas where there is no Filipino church. The idea of such partnerships emerged through Yanes' service on the Asian American Advisory Council, which communicates to Page and other SBC leaders the perspectives of churches and leaders from several Asian cultures. Members of the Advisory Council represent Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Lao and Vietnamese churches.
"In every major city of the nation, the Asian population is growing so fast," said Yanes, who serves as a North American Mission Board church planting catalyst and ethnic strategist for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey. "That will be the main focus of the partnerships."
The fellowship also will discuss planting churches in the Philippines, especially in the area hit by Typhoon Haiyan last November.
Immigration attorney Ruben Bayawa will speak at the Monday night dinner on U.S. immigration policy as it relates to Filipinos. Two significant issues for the group are how to get visas for pastors from the Philippines and how to help church members with work visas gain permanent resident status.
Every aspect of the meeting will relate to the theme of multiplication through church planting, Yanes said.
"Filipino churches in our Southern Baptist Convention are very much a key player among ethnic churches in church planting in the USA and Canada," he said.
Leading up the meeting, Filipino Fellowship churches will participate in a 40-day prayer campaign beginning May 2. Prayers will focus on asking God to provide more workers for Filipino church plants.
To register for the annual meeting, email Yanes at email@example.com. The fellowship has a Facebook page and will post updates on the June gathering as the date approaches.
David Roach is Baptist Press' chief national correspondent. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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