At far right, Pastor Ventura Ruiz of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Lawrenceville makes a point while fellow panelists (left to right) Alex Cossio, Luis Rondan, and John Cuentas listen during the Hispanic Leadership Summit held Sept. 12 at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. JULISSA MARTINEZ
MARIETTA — Labeled as the first of its kind, 115 Georgia Baptist pastors and leaders from the North, Central, and South regions gathered for a daylong Hispanic Leadership Summit Sept. 12 at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.
“With one million Hispanics in Georgia, the mission field is great. But the commitment of the Spanish-speaking church is even greater,” exclaimed Javier Chavez, Georgia Baptist Convention 2nd vice president and pastor of Amistad Cristiana Church in Gainesville.
Chavez, who called the meeting, said the gathering was also to reaffirm the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s proclamations of “Pastors are our heroes, churches are our priority, and Georgia is our mission field.”
Alex Cosio, pastor of Iglesia Nuevo Horizonte in Woodstock, addressed church leaders and the need to stand by pastors in times of crisis and emotional distress. Jose Delgado, pastor of Iglesia Pozo de Esperanza in Gainesville, spoke on the importance of financial stewardship for the family, church, and missions. Daniel Santander, pastor of La Iglesia in Marietta, talked about the second generation of Hispanic leaders who prefer speaking English but have the “Latino flavor” in them.
“That second generation is soon to become church planters, international missionaries, and denominational leaders,” Chavez pointed out.
Lunch was provided by 1025 Church, Monroe Pastor Tommy Fountain, Northside Baptist Church, Valdosta Pastor Robby Foster, and First Baptist, Villa Rica Pastor Kevin Williams. During that time participants herd from leaders such as David Cardoza, pastor of Iglesia Calvario in Lilburn; Rolando Castro, Georgia Baptist Missions catalyst for the Northwest Region; and Chris Wong from the North American Mission Board. Carolina Santander spoke with pastors’ wives for a time of prayer and Bible study while Jicela Valter led women in a time of prayer and mediation through Scripture.
An afternoon panel discussion addressed the navigation of COVID-19 and featured pastors Ventura Ruiz of Primera Iglesia Bautista of Lawrenceville, Luis Rondan of Iglesia Bautista Ebenezer in Cornelia, and John Cuentas of Iglesia El Poder de su Presencia in Woodstock.
Chavez proposed a five-year Hispanic ministry plan that participants unanimously accepted. It includes:
- 5,000 new converts and baptisms by 2025
- A 10 percent increase in giving through the Cooperative Program
- Planting more urban churches, including a church in downtown Atlanta
- Generational change and empowerment of younger leaders, particularly those 18-30 years old
- Greater participation of Hispanic leaders in the Georgia Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention.
Julio Arriola, executive director for Hispanic Relations of the SBC, invited Georgia Baptists to connect with SBC Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd’s Advancing the Vision 2025 initiative, inviting Spanish-speaking leaders to greater efforts in evangelism.
The evening closed with Arriola leading in worship while Chavez plated piano alongside other musicians. “It was the highlight of the evening to get to lead the audience in a time of prayer that brought many leaders to the altar for prayer and spiritual renewal,” said Chavez.