NASHVILLE (BP)—Church planting and increased ethnic diversity were celebrated in many of the state Baptist conventions’ annual meetings this fall. In California three congregations involved in reaching a different ethnic group were featured, including Chinese Baptists ministering on an Indian reservation, one Anglo church engaged in reaching Hispanics and another hosting six different congregations—Afghani, African American, Arabic, Armenian, Hispanic and Korean.
The many languages of churches in the Hawaii-Pacific Baptist Convention were highlighted as various people read Scripture in their native languages at each session. Nine ethnic groups in national attire sang “People Need the Lord” in their native language as they filed in carrying flags from their nations of origin.
During worship at the Baptist Convention of Maryland-Delaware’s annual meeting, groups from Burmese, Chinese, Haitian, Kenyan, Korean and Nepalese churches shared hymns and praise music in their native languages, and an international dinner featured American, Chinese, Haitian, Hispanic, Korean and Nepalese foods.
Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists highlighted church planting opportunities in the region’s growing Hispanic population. North Carolina Baptists witnessed the commissioning of 34 North American Mission Board missionaries being sent out to plant churches in some of the least evangelized areas of the country and Canada. Arizona Baptists toured a mission fair to discover new opportunities for ministry.
Colorado Baptists heard of new coalitions of associations formed to strengthen church planting in an effort to reach a diverse population. Florida Baptists learned of 117 new church starts through an emphasis on church planting regionalization, one of six recommendations being implemented in line with the Great Commission Resurgence.
Tribute was paid to the North American Mission Board in both Florida and Ohio. Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director John Sullivan praised NAMB’s help in planting churches, calling the SBC entity “the best partner we have in the state of Florida.”
Ohio Baptists affirmed their partnership with NAMB, expressing gratitude for the mission board’s response to concern voiced at last year’s state convention meeting over the level of funding by the mission board. Messengers rejoiced over the designation of Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland as SEND North America cities for NAMB’s national initiative to heighten church planting.
Commendation of the “sinner’s prayer” as “a biblically sound and spiritually significant component of the evangelistic task of the church” was supported through identical resolutions passed in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The resolution encourages “all Christians to enthusiastically and intentionally proclaim the Gospel to sinners everywhere, being prepared to give them the reason for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), and being prepared to lead them to confess faith in Christ (Romans 10:9), including praying to receive Him as Savior and Lord (John 1:12).”
The resolution, written by Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., had been submitted for consideration at the SBC annual meeting in June and was changed substantially by the Resolutions Committee. However, both resolutions observe that a “sinner’s prayer is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel,” citing Matthew 6:7, 15:7-9, and 28:18-20.
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