Valverde returns as Hispanic fellowship president
Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Witness
June 15, 2017

Valverde returns as Hispanic fellowship president

Valverde returns as Hispanic fellowship president
Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Witness
June 15, 2017

The National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship (NHBF) of the Southern Baptist Convention, in a four-hour meeting June 12, discussed business, honored a Hispanic leader, worshiped and heard God’s Word.

Photo by Keila Diaz

Fermin Whittaker, center, Hispanic Southern Baptist leader, is honored at the annual meeting of the National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship by executive director of fellowship Julio Fuentes, left, and Augusto Valverde, right, newly elected fellowship president.

The group of approximately 50 elected new officers made an amendment to their constitution and voted on three motions brought forth from their last meeting.

Augusto Valverde, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Amanecer in Miami, was elected as the fellowship’s new president. Valverde served as NHBF president from 2002-2004 and again in 2006.

Julio Fuentes, the fellowship’s executive director, said many people consider Valverde’s terms of service as a time when the fellowship was active and doing well, and many would like to see him lead again.

Carlos Valencia of Texas was elected as first vice president. Walter Loyola of California and Maria C. Gonzalez of Florida are each serving in their third consecutive year as second vice president and secretary, respectively.

NHBF’s treasurer, Juan Barcos of Florida, is moving to a yet-unspecified position within the fellowship, and Ramon Rodriguez of Arizona was elected as his successor.

Inocencio Gomez of Kansas was elected to assist Goonzalez as vice-secretary and Jose Moreno of Arizona to assist Rodriguez as vice-treasurer.

Fuentes suggested that a change be made to the constitution to allow officer nominees to be approved even if they are not present at the meeting in which a vote takes place.

“We find that many times because of unforeseen circumstances the nominees can’t make it to these meetings but they are strong nominees that have gone through a long vetting process and we would prefer not to see them lose the opportunity to serve,” Fuentes said of the amendment to the constitution, which passed.

Photo by Adam Covington

Estefan Sarabia, center, a member of Tierra Fertil Christian Church in Yuma, Ariz., leads two youth in prayer during the National Hispanic Fellowship meeting June 12 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The fellowship also approved a motion to have a legal consultant; a motion for the executive committee to suggest names for that role; and a third motion to introduce the terminology of active and inactive members to the constitution.

All motions passed.

Also, a nominating committee for 2018 was named.

David Johnson, executive director-treasurer of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, visited the group and invited the pastors to partner with Arizona Baptists to plant more Hispanic churches.

“Arizona is 30 percent Hispanic and there are only 55 Hispanic [Southern Baptist] churches,” Johnson said. “We need your help to come plant churches.”

The keynote speaker and honored Hispanic leader at the gathering was Fermin Whittaker. The worship leader was Josue Castro, pastor of Tierra Fertile in Yuma, Ariz.

Whittaker served as executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention for 22 years before retiring last year. The Panama native served in Panama, Canada and Georgia, preached many crusades in the United States and abroad and has been a guest lecturer at various Southern Baptist seminaries.

In his sermon, Whittaker encouraged the pastors to continue to work ardently to spread the gospel.

“Keep the focus and trust that God will help you,” he said.

He also encouraged the fellowship to be the prayer warriors that the next generation needs to continue to do the work of the Kingdom of God.

“We talk a lot about the future but rarely the past, so I want to remind you about the Baptists in the ’70s who gathered to pray at Lake Yale and other places so that people would hear the gospel, and God heard them and provided people to do it. … We need to pray like that again.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keila Diaz writes for the Florida Baptist Witness, goFBW.com.)