By Amy Whitfield
NASHVILLE (BP) – Julio Arriola has been named executive director of Hispanic relations and mobilization at the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. The new role is a partnership, jointly funded by the EC and the North American Mission Board with a primary focus to bring more Hispanic churches into the Southern Baptist family.
“Julio Arriola is one of the most gifted, winsome and relational leaders I know,” said Ronnie Floyd, EC president and CEO. “He walks with Christ deeply, has a great heart for evangelism, loves people, and knows how to mobilize them to mission and ministry.
“Southern Baptists from all walks of life will benefit greatly from his life and his leadership. He and Carla are two remarkable people who love our Southern Baptist family,” Floyd said.
“We are grateful that more than half the churches we help Southern Baptists plant each year are ethnic,” NAMB president Kevin Ezell said in a statement to Baptist Press. “But we believe there are hundreds of existing Hispanic churches that would be interested in joining the SBC and would benefit from it. Julio is going to focus on helping us connect with those churches. I am thrilled that he is taking on this role.”
Arriola planted Iglesia Vida, currently the largest Baptist church in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2017. Prior to that, he served as Global Worship Pastor for Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas, and he has served as worship leader and youth pastor at churches in Texas. Julio and his family will relocate to Nashville by the end of 2019, and he will begin his work with the Executive Committee in January.
“Almost a decade ago when I became a U.S. citizen, the doors of this great nation opened wide to me and my family to pursue dreams we never imagined,” Arriola told Baptist Press. “For many, the American dream may be a better financial situation, a house, a good education for their children, a few weeks of vacation a year, or freedom to do whatever they want. But for me and my family, it has meant greater opportunities to spread the Gospel of Jesus.”
Floyd announced Nov. 1 the addition of three full-time EC staff positions that would focus on increasing diverse engagement. This is the first of the roles to be filled.
Arriola will work with other EC offices to develop and implement strategies for the involvement and participation of Hispanic churches and church leaders across the SBC. This will include promoting active participation at every level of Convention life as well as increased Cooperative Program understanding and involvement.
Over the past two decades, the number of Hispanic congregations in the SBC has increased by 77.52 percent – from 1,975 in 1998 to 3,506 in 2017.
“Jesus prayed for us to be one in John 17, and I am very excited to help do just that in the SBC by serving and mobilizing more than 3,500 Hispanic congregations,” Arriola said. “With God’s help we will do mighty things.”
Arriola plans to graduate with a Master of Theological Studies degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2020. He holds an undergraduate degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Julio is married to Carla, and they have three children – Daniel, David, and Elizabeth.
Amy Whitfield is associate vice president for convention communications for the SBC Executive Committee.