The Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas celebrated its 110th anniversary and held its annual meeting virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When it became clear the traditional in-person gathering could not be held as originally planned, Convención officials worked rapidly to put together the virtual annual meeting on short notice, Convención Executive Director Jesse Rincones said.
“When the circumstances change, we have to adjust to address the needs of our congregations,” Rincones said.
Normally, messengers to the annual meeting elect officers, approve a budget and deal with other business items. The virtual format required Convención to grant its executive committee authority to make some decisions and to postpone other matters until the 2021 annual meeting, he noted.
Meeting needs in challenging times
The meeting—centered on the theme “From Generation to Generation”—included various reports on Hispanic Texas Baptist work during a time when congregations face a series of challenges due to the ongoing pandemic.
For months, Rincones said Convención stayed in touch with ministers, leaders and churches through emails and phone calls.
Convención provided information to member congregations regarding the stimulus package passed by U.S. Congress.
It also offered a series of webinars in Spanish for 116 people and webinars in English for 93 individuals, as well as webinars geared specifically toward pastors.
Current resources provided by Convención can be found online.
Rincones reported the number of cooperating churches increased from 63 churches to 97 churches last year.
Information about Convención’s budget is posted online.
Teach your children well
While the Hispanic Convention continues to face a year filled with unprecedented circumstances, Convención President Tony Miranda said Texas Baptist Hispanic churches must focus on teaching the next generation what truly matters.
He pointed out the Great Commandment in Deuteronomy 6:4-9—to love God with all of one’s being—was given with instructions about how to keep it foremost in the minds of God’s people and to teach it in each home.
“As we know and learn that, we must also pass it on to the next generation,” he noted.
But a disconnect between younger generations and the church shows congregations and their leaders have a lot of work to do to pass on that knowledge, said Miranda.
“As leaders prepare for ministry, they must prepare to serve for various generations, not just one,” Miranda remarked. “We must involve all generations in all aspects of the church.”
Need for change and renewal
Connecting with younger generations requires change and renewal, which means churches must exercise wisdom in letting go of unnecessary traditions and focusing on relationships, he added.
“We recognize that God will express himself in whichever way he chooses to … (in) the next generation,” Rincones said during a panel with other Hispanic Baptist leaders.
Through personal relationships with pastors and church leaders, members of the congregation will see how ministers treat others and how they lead with humility, panelists noted.
Passing the knowledge and love of God to the next generation starts with the pastors and other ministers, they added.
“Include youth in your leadership,” Miranda said. “Help them discern their calling.”
As some Hispanic communities struggle with the issue of different languages, Rincones acknowledged relationships have primary importance. Respect, listening and investment matter more than everyone speaking the same language, he observed.
Everyone will leave a legacy, Rincones said. “Some will leave a good legacy, and others will leave a not-so-good legacy,” he noted.
As Christians serve God and others, following the Great Commandments, they are called to do so understanding the fruits of all their works is borne in those who will come after them, Rincones said.
“The legacy is not for us. That is for those who will come after us,” he said. “The focus of the pastors should always remain in helping people grow and not the ministries of the church, because Jesus said he himself will build his church.”