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ST. LOUIS -- As part of ongoing efforts to encourage racial diversity in the Southern Baptist Convention, two dinners held Sunday night at the annual Southern Baptist conference in St. Louis were geared toward motivating Asian and Hispanic Baptists to increase evangelism and leadership efforts.

This year marks the beginning of the implementation of recommendations made to the convention by two advisory councils, one Hispanic and the other Asian, said Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.

The 80-member committee recommends budgets, takes care of public relations and distributes monetary contributions to the convention, according to the committee website.

The advisory councils submitted reports with suggestions for improving outreach efforts to minority groups, and some members will transition over to a permanent convention advisory council, Page said.

Convention President Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor at Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, said that in addition to the advisory council, he hopes that future presidents will do as he did in appointing more people from minority groups to committees.

"As we appoint more diverse leadership, we develop a bigger heart for the ethnicities of the world," Floyd said.

He said 20 percent of his appointments were to non-Anglo people and that he hoped this would increase conversations surrounding diversity within the church.

To further promote those conversations, Floyd encouraged attendees at both dinners to attend the entirety of the business portion of the conference Tuesday.

Hispanic leaders, who gathered before a projected picture of the Gateway Arch with the word "Bienvenidos" (Welcome) emblazoned across the bottom, were encouraged to nourish existing churches because those churches have the most potential for growth, Floyd said.

"If we are going to be relevant in the 21st century, we must be sensitive to Hispanic groups in our church and in our culture," he said.

Hispanics represented about 3 percent of the almost 2,000 Southern Baptists surveyed in a 2014 Pew Research Center study.

There are about 15.3 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention, according to the 2015 Annual Church Profile Statistical Summary.

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that about 17 percent of Americans are Hispanic.

Floyd also spoke to the Hispanic group about the power of prayer to stop racial discrimination.

"It's time that all racism ends in the United States, and the church is the answer to that," he said.

Prayer was a theme that crossed over to both dinners. Page spoke to attendees at the Asian American Fellowship event about their special role in the church as people who "understand what other ethnic groups have yet to understand -- the power of prayer."

Floyd urged those in attendance to continue increasing involvement in the convention.

"We need you," he said. "You make us a lot better, not simply because you are Asian but because you love Christ."

The Pew study shows that less than 1 percent of the Southern Baptist population is Asian, while about 5 percent of the U.S. population is Asian.

Floyd also told the church leaders at the event to "stop easing up on baptism."

The Southern Baptist Convention experienced about a 3 percent decrease, or a drop of about 10,000, in the number of baptisms between 2014 and 2015, according to the Annual Church Profile.

In addition to the two dinners, Floyd said he will address the racial tension in the U.S. during his presidential address Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, there will also be a panel on racial unity in the U.S.

"History is going to be made in that room, and you don't want to miss it," Floyd said.

Metro on 06/13/2016

Print Headline: Southern Baptists say diversity a goal


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Archived Comments

  • mrcharles
    June 13, 2016 at 9:17 a.m.

    Not to be rude but their idea of diversity is a strange one. Somewhat like the study the RNC did and then said great idea, but let's be like James the just warned against in his book in the ancient book... dont talk the talk but walk the walk, whereas it came to pass RNC ILKS decided to talk the talk and ignore the walk,

    Of course read what the most reverend righteous Head grand wizARD WATCHER FLOYD SAYS ABOUT SOME AND YOU WILL SEE, they reach out to minorities just to get their numbers up but dont care about them when they are of this earthly realm. He is most hateful, in his loving and merciful way of quoting his mental warped ideas of the Jewish apostolic preacher & his jewish first followers, who would be sick to know what these 21st century haters did with his ideas of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

  • pcrasehotmailcom
    June 13, 2016 at 10:18 a.m.

    So Chuck let's see......this group is seeking diversity (a noble endeavor I'm sure you would agree). And so this group, which you appear to deeply despise, actually contemplates doing better, you respond with hate and snark. Good deal man, way to be a positive force on Earth. But hey dude, it takes one to know one. Of the Haters ILK that is.

  • hurricane46
    June 13, 2016 at 10:23 a.m.

    Floyd just wants more people to give to his "campus of churches" and pad his pockets, it's a business, it needs to be taxed like one.

  • mrcharles
    June 13, 2016 at 12:33 p.m.

    SAY GAMMA ALPHA TANGO FOXTROT 7, FIRE FOR EFFECT. Lets see , adding to this group, which I remember apologizing for what,.... supporting both OT & NT injunctions on slavery for years [ they of course now are delicate & have position that support end of slavery but I know those in various baptist churches who disagree with the liberal ,moderate view of slavery as bad -- WHY??!! BUT LET ME ASK YOU SIR!? DOES NOT THE TEXT REMAIN IN YOUR BOOK OF BELIEFS JUST LIKE THE INJUNCTION TO KILL WITCHES?? So now with a leader who spouts such hateful evil, way past snark [ WITH ALL DELIBERATE SPEED] and hate , do I have to respect his low life sayings? I Think not! Just because they call them a religion they do not innately deserve respect . Do I respect a religion that skins people alive, who sets them on fire , puts them on the rack , who wipes out other people in entirety because they are different, you may do but I don't.

    huricane is 100% right, why should they be not taxed with their fellowship halls where they drink coffee [ at least they are not stupid in that way like the last revealed great true religion of Mitt Romney] , discuss pie recipes and other social club functions, and of course talk so bad about a mixed race president.

    What is their goal in diversity-- short people who are left handed, tall people who are color blind? Gay, socialist like those early members in Acts of Apostles, the sheep of Matthew?

    Greek letter you are an intelligent primate, Do you accept and agree with Floyd's thoughts? Do you agree with Mary's son who mentioned several times about following the law , which includes Leviticus?? Agree with him on hating your family? Should you leave them to starve if they depend on you solely for support? ......... I have no doubt that you are not like sea bass on "working" on your particular set of beliefs of belief, but what are those beliefs. Joshua 6:21?

    So Dude, thanks for the school yard stupid remark. Do you hate ISIS, they are religious just like the church in the middle ages said they were when leaders allowed the killing of Jews - Jesus was a jew....Or are you a firm believer of Marin Luther's statements about the Jews? Exactly what kind of supporter are you?