HOUSTON (BP) -- Southern Baptists of all ethnicities must join together to reach an ever-diversifying nation and the world for Christ, leaders from three ethnic advisory councils said during a panel discussion in Houston.
"It's not a great secret that Southern Baptists were not always as ethnically diverse as we are today," moderator Ed Stetzer said at the Executive Committee booth at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"We've made remarkable progress. As a matter of fact, when news reporters do kind of a forthright, well-told story, they will hold up Southern Baptists as one of those who've increased ethnic diversity in our churches," Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said.
Even so, leadership roles throughout the convention are occupied largely by Anglos, Stetzer said.
The panel included Paul Kim, Jerry Lepasana and Alan Chan of the Asian Advisory Council; A.B. Vines and K. Marshall Williams Sr. of the African American Advisory Council; Daniel Sanchez of the Hispanic Advisory Council; and Frank Page and Ken Weathersby of the Executive Committee.
Nearly 10,000 of the SBC's 46,000 churches are "ethnic in some shape, form or fashion," making Southern Baptists by far the most ethnic convention in the nation, Page, the Executive Committee's president, said.
Lepasana, pastor of Bible Church International in Randolph, N.J., said the Filipino congregation he leads finds great value in partnering with the Southern Baptist Convention because the Cooperative Program helped start many of the Filipino churches in the New York and New Jersey area. CP is the channel by which Southern Baptists support state, national and international missions and ministry.
"We always want to make sure that we stay connected to Southern Baptists because we feel that there's this partnership that allows us to be able to expand the Kingdom with other Southern Baptist churches. That has been a critical partnership for us," Lepasana said.
Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., said he believes now is the time for action among ethic Baptists.
"We have these talks behind doors, so it's time for us to come in the room, get at the table and talk clearly and talk truthfully," Vines said. "... We have fears about different cultures, but those things need to be put away because Christ has evened the playing field."
Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass., made a motion at the SBC annual meeting in 2009 that the Executive Committee study how different ethnic groups could work together in the convention. When he walks onto the convention floor, Kim said, he wonders where the ethnic groups are. Read More