Hispanic Baptists gathered at Baptist University of Américas in San Antonio and online to celebrate the launch of Texas Baptists en Español, a renewed effort for Texas Baptists to reach the state’s Hispanic population.
Marlon Rios, ministry assistant in Texas Baptists’ office of Hispanic ministries, led a panel discussion focused on the origins and purpose behind the new initiative.
Panelists included Rolando Rodriguez, director of Texas Baptists en Español; Lorenzo Peña, director of cultural engagement at the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Noe Treviño, church starter with Texas Baptists.
More than a rebranding
Rodriguez explained the new effort is a rebranding of the office of Hispanic ministries, but it also goes deeper, strategically providing a unified place for Hispanic churches to connect with Texas Baptists’ staff and resources.
“Our eight areas of focus are discipleship, evangelism, church starting, reaching the next generation, leadership development, missions, education, and church health and revitalization,” Rodriguez explained. “It’s a strategic plan to make an impact here in Texas.”
Peña described the origins of Texas Baptists en Español, explaining it arose from a continually rising need to address the rapidly growing Hispanic population in Texas.
Vision 2000, a strategic plan to reach Hispanics in Texas developed by a Hispanic Task Force in 1991, provided the foundation that much of the new initiative was built on, he said. Texas Baptists en Español will continue that work while seeking to connect Hispanic churches with the entirety of the convention.
Treviño explained a 34-member team including Hispanic pastors, Texas Baptists’ staff and leaders of the next generation was assembled to develop a new strategy. The new initiative will encompass more than 1,100 Hispanic churches across Texas.
Peña honored for service to Texas Baptists
During the launching celebration, Peña received the Gary Cook Servant Leader Award, marking his 20 years of service with Texas Baptists. Rodriguez spoke of Peña’s gifts in leadership, administration and teaching.
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Gary Cook, chancellor of Dallas Baptist University and award namesake, also spoke about Peña.
“We’re so proud of Lorenzo for getting this servant leadership award. He’s been all over the state serving and helping ministers for the last 20 years,” Cook said. “If you went around the world looking for an example of a servant leader, you would find it in him.”
Abe Jaquez, BUA president, thanked everyone for attending the conference and spoke of his excitement for the future of BUA and Texas Baptists.
“I believe that tonight we have lots to be joyful about, and I’m joyful that we get to be a part of that. We look forward to deepening our relationship with Rolando and Texas Baptists en Español,” he said. “My prayer is that God would continue to bless our work as we continue to reach people across Texas.”
Victor Rodriguez, Hispanic evangelism associate and discipleship specialist for Texas Baptists, presented a challenge for leaders of Texas Baptists en Español based on 2 Corinthians 5:14. He reminding them of the Apostle Paul, who was humble and gave all the glory to God. Paul never forgot the calling God gave him, he noted.
Rodriguez urged the new Texas Baptists en Español leaders to hold tightly to the calling that God has given to them and focus on three key principles—humility, compassion and passion to reach the spiritually lost.