Several recent ministry gatherings reflect the growth of Asian ministries in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) both past and present.
The recent gathering of Asian American ministers gave messengers and church leaders the opportunity to give thanks for their partnership as a people group, as well as their opportunity to serve the larger cooperative mission of the SBC.
Florida Baptist Convention holds first ever Asian pastors gathering
The Florida Baptist Convention held their first ever Asian pastors gathering Sept. 23. IMore than 60 of the state’s pastors attended.
Lito Lucas serves as the state’s Asian church coordinator, as well as the pastor of Philippine International Christian Fellowship in Lakeland, Fla.
Diversity and ministry to different people groups have been a constant emphasis for the convention, Lucas said. But there was not a specific ministry dedicated to Asian pastors and churches.
He suggested the creation of an Asian related ministry to Florida Baptist Executive Director Tommy Green and volunteered to lead the ministry.
Green gave his blessing for Lucas to begin serving as the state’s Asian church coordinator, which Lucas has been doing in a volunteer capacity ever since.
“With this initiative we can say ‘Hey guys, we are in this together. We are a part of the convention,’” Lucas said.
Lucas is happy the new endeavor will help serve the larger goal of the Florida convention.
“We can work together with our Anglo churches and pastors and let them know that we are here for them and they are here for us, so let’s work together in reaching our own respective communities.”
The September gathering of Asian pastors – the first of its kind – focused on the need for Asian pastors and church leaders to network together, as well as the need to partner further within the mission of the SBC in ways such as increasing giving to the Cooperative Program.
The gathering featured messages from SBC Executive Director of Asian American Relations and Mobilization Peter Yanes and Green.
Green spoke about the Florida-based initiative Challenge 2025, a ministry strategy for the next four years in the state.
Lucas said the group plans to gather during the state’s annual meeting in November. He hopes these events represent the start of a growing partnership between Asian ministers in the state.
“We’re looking forward to it being a continuing ministry, not just a one-time situation and we hope that we can encourage all Asian pastors that they are a part of the whole convention doing the ministry for the glory of God,” he said.
Hmong Baptist Association celebrates 30th anniversary, elects new officers
The Hmong Baptist National Association celebrated its 30th anniversary of ministry within the SBC during a gathering in Princeton, Wis., on Oct. 7-9.
More than 300 pastors and messengers attended the event at the Green Lake Conference Center in Princeton, Wis. The event included times of worship, fellowship, ministry workshops and election of officers.
The Hmong Baptist Association represents 56 churches in the SBC which represent more than 5,000 members.
Joseph Yang serves as the president of the association. He said it’s difficult to explain how impactful it was to be able to meet together in-person again.
“Being together is a totally different environment, and it’s just wonderful to see so many people coming together at once,” Yang said.
“With being together you can shake hands and talk … and just the feeling of coming all together is totally different than looking through a screen. It’s difficult to put words to describe this feeling, and it’s so awesome it’s hard to describe.”
Yang, who will end his term as president of the association this year, explained the association elects new officers to serve every two years at the conference.
The conference included messages from a variety of SBC leaders including International Mission Board (IMB) Executive Vice President Todd Lafferty and Wisconsin-Minnesota Baptist Convention Executive Director Leo Endel.
Additional messages at the conference included an address from Peter Yanes, SBC executive director of Asian American relations and mobilization, and a video message from Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd.
Yang said the conference was not only an opportunity to join together as an association, but a chance to reflect on the mission of fulfilling the Great Commission through the cooperation of the larger SBC family.
“It is very important to me to be involved with the convention, and in the past we’ve felt small, but knowing we have the SBC, IMB, the North American Mission Board and other agencies, we are a huge family. Knowing that and knowing that we have the partnership and the backbone of the SBC supporting us we feel stronger, more faithful and that we can do anything if we just work together.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.)