ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – The California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) is asking fellow Southern Baptists to join them in Anaheim and consider taking the next step. In a video called “Consider California,” released by the CSBC, church leaders take viewers on a tour of the Golden State and highlight the need for Gospel impact.
“We are excited to be hosting this year’s annual meeting,” said Victor Chayasirisobhon, CSBC president. “It’s been 41 years since the convention has come to California.”
The video focuses on the beauty of California, the diversity of its culture and cities as well as its deep spiritual needs.
Eddie Pate, director of the Kim School of Evangelism at Gateway Seminary in Ontario, Calif., says the lostness rate is greater than 86 percent in California. This means more than 34 million Californians need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That number is equal to the combined populations of Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, according to the video.
In addition to the high level of lostness, the state is also the most diverse in the U.S.
“California has over 200 languages spoken throughout the state,” said Andrew Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield.
The CSBC estimates that weekly sermons in the state’s Baptist churches are preached in more than 60 languages.
“California is a mission field. The need for pastors and church planters in California is significant. We are praying God will use the SBC annual meeting being in Anaheim to call Great Commission pastors and church planters to our beautiful state,” said Pete Ramirez, CSBC’s new executive director.
Sarah Graham, CSBC communications director, led in the production of the video. “We made this video in an effort to showcase the diversity of our landscape, in our people and in our churches,” she said. “And we also made this video to remind our SBC family that the lostness here is significant.”
Longtime president of Gateway Seminary, Jeff Iorg, said, “Those of us who live here love California. We enjoy the natural beauty, the fantastic weather, the strong economy, and being at the center of so much that influences our world. But mostly we love it here because of the boundless opportunities to share and live the Gospel.”
Iorg called on Southern Baptists to use the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting as a time to understand the state’s great spiritual need.
“While you might not be a Californian, we need your help to reach our state,” he says in the video. “We need your prayers, your gifts, and for some of you, your personal involvement, as you think about going to all the world with the Gospel, consider California. It’s a great place to invest yourself and make a global impact for the Gospel.”
California Baptists partnered with the Innovative Faith group at the SBC of Virginia to create the video, Graham said.
“We know the cooperative work happening in our convention is what makes the SBC special,” Graham told Baptist Press.
The 2022 SBC Annual Meeting is set for June 14-15 at the Anaheim Convention Center.
“California is unique in many ways and our diversity opens up opportunities for everyone across our nation to find meaningful ways to partner with our kingdom work,” Graham said.
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