SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Ronnie Floyd, in just over 3 and a half minutes, speaks volumes about ethnic inclusiveness within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Floyd speaks in English and, through a translator’s voice, in Spanish and Korean in a new video to invite Southern Baptists to the SBC annual meeting next June in St. Louis.
More than 3,200 Hispanic churches and church-type missions are among the 40,700-plus Southern Baptist congregations across the U.S. and its territories.
Korean churches and church-type missions number more than 840, according to the SBC’s current statistics.
“With these two language groups comprising hundreds and hundreds of our churches, we want and need them to join us in St. Louis,” Floyd told Baptist Press.
“With 20 percent of our churches being non-Anglo and our nation becoming filled with ethnicities from across the globe, we must understand that reaching all ethnicities with the Gospel is imperative to reach America and the world for Jesus Christ.” Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, said in written comments. “This is why we want not only our Anglo churches to come to St. Louis, but all of our non-Anglo churches to join all of us.”
Across Southern Baptists’ ethnic spectrum, there are 3,500-plus African American churches and church-type missions, along with more than 430 that are Native American; 444 Haitian; 228 Chinese; 223 Multi-Ethnic; 185 Filipino; and 20 additional ethnic, language and racial groups with fewer than 100 churches each.
Guillermo Soriano, who is leading a new SBC-wide Hispanic Pastors and Leaders Network, said Floyd’s Spanish-language invitation to the convention’s 2016 annual meeting will be well-received among Hispanic Baptists.
The United States has become the second-largest Hispanic country in the world, Soriano noted, so “the presence and involvement of Hispanic Americans in our SBC” could become “one of the most effective ways” of revitalizing Southern Baptist churches that are declining or dying — “toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission with the Great Commandment.”
Soriano, who serves as North Carolina Baptists’ Hispanic evangelism and discipleship consultant, said the SBC annual meeting can be a key “opportunity to meet each other in order to build a ministry network for Kingdom purposes. Hispanic Americans would learn and understand much better our SBC structure and opportunities for inter-cultural collaboration. It could generate a disciple-making process with multigenerational implications and results.”
Paul Kim, now serving as the Asian American relations consultant with the SBC Executive Committee, commended “the creative vision with passion of Dr. Floyd” to invite non-English-speaking churches into broader involvement in Southern Baptist life.
Kim, who founded and led Boston’s Antioch Baptist Church (formerly Berkland Baptist Church) for 30 years as senior pastor, said the “first-ever Korean invitation to my fellow Korean pastors and churches … reflects the personal interest and heart of Dr. Floyd for Korean pastors and churches, saying, ‘I care for you!’ It touches our hearts.”
The video’s release comes “several months ahead to ask us to pray for the 2016 SBC meeting in St. Louis [with its theme] ‘Awaken America’ through a prayer movement for the Holy Spirit to revive our nation,” Kim added.
Floyd, in the video, states, “I am calling every pastor, every church leader and every layperson to come to St. Louis for our 2016 Southern Baptist family reunion. We have never needed to be together more than in 2016.
“With our ever-changing culture and the world becoming more dangerous by the day, now is the time for us to come together. Plus, God is moving among us mightily,” Floyd says. “Bring as many people as you can. Until we all arrive [in St. Louis next year on] June 14-15, I want to challenge you to Agree … Unite … and Pray. Yes, we need to ask God to Awaken America and to empower us to reach the world for Christ.”
Floyd also encourages Baptists to arrive in St. Louis in time to participate in the June 11 Crossover evangelistic thrust, held each year in the SBC annual meeting’s host city.
Bobby Sena, the Executive Committee’s Hispanic relations consultant, voiced a word of thanks to Floyd in a statement to Baptist Press. “Thank you for your commitment to serve all the members of the SBC family,” Sena wrote. “The videos in different languages send a powerful and positive message to the ethnic groups and show your heart and mission to the SBC! Proud of you, Hermano.”
Félix Cabrera, lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, said, “Dr. Floyd since his first day as SBC president showed commitment not only with his words but also in actions with Hispanic Southern Baptists.” Cabrera commended Floyd for involving Hispanic Baptists in key platform roles during this year’s SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, and in the nomination of Hispanic pastors and leaders for various SBC committee assignments.
It is “not a surprise that he is taking time to let us know that we are not only part of the SBC but also that we are valued and important,” said Cabrera, who is among the leaders of a Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance committed to advancing sound doctrine as set forth in the SBC’s 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.
Floyd’s Spanish- and Korean-language videos continue a series of initiatives by SBC leaders to broaden ethnic involvement in the convention. In 2011, for example, messengers embraced a 10-point set of recommendations for steps by the SBC president and convention entities “to foster conscious awareness of the need to be proactive and intentional in the inclusion of individuals from all ethnic and racial identities within Southern Baptist life.”
For churches intent on sending messengers to the SBC annual meeting, two messengers can register from each cooperating church that contributes to convention causes during the preceding fiscal year. Additionally, the convention will recognize 10 additional messengers from a cooperating church under one of the following options:
— One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the convention’s Executive Committee for convention causes, and/or to any convention entity.
— One additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributes in the preceding year through the normative combination of the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes or to any SBC entity.