Record number gathers for Hispanic Baptist Celebration

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ORLANDO, Fla.— A record number of close to 1,000 Hispanic Baptists from throughout the Sunshine State gathered Sunday, Nov. 11, for the Hispanic Baptist Celebration, held in conjunction with the Florida Baptist State Convention’s (FBSC) 2019 annual meeting at First Baptist Church, Orlando.

As pastors, along with their wives, and other leaders arrived, church volunteers continued to bring out chairs to accommodate the crowd at the best-attended Hispanic event at an FBSC annual meeting.

“Praise God as He worked through pastors and churches to unite in Christ for Kingdom advance,” said Emanuel Roque, Florida Baptists’ Hispanic church catalyst.

Focusing on Nehemiah 12:1, Martin Vargas, pastor of Iglesia Real in Hollywood, preached about raising up leaders who would raise the bar in service to the Lord.

Florida Baptist State Convention, Martin Vargas“Perhaps these names (in Nehemiah) don’t mean that much to you, but they do to God because these men were leaders who were raising the bar,” he said about the men who went with Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. “We need these kinds of leaders to see the movement of God.”

Vargas challenged pastors to work together to reach not just their communities, but the entire state and beyond. Some churches are multipliers, and others are not, but all have a purpose and a mission, he explained. “There is only one church, and we all have to work together and align ourselves for the Kingdom.

“Pastors, no matter what your calling is, you can join the cause of reaching Florida for Christ,” said Vargas.

The evangelistic music group Blest led worship throughout the evening. Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention (FBC); Erik Cummings, president of the FBSC and pastor of New Life Baptist Church of Carol City; and Bob Sena, Executive Committee Hispanic relations consultant of the Southern Baptist Convention, greeted the group.

“I am so excited to walk into this room and see so many exalting the name of Christ,” said Green. “It’s going to take every one of us together to reach Florida for Christ, and I rejoice tonight that you’re here gathered to make famous the name above all names, the name of Jesus Christ.”

Cummings also expressed his joy at seeing Hispanic Baptists showing up and uniting to reach their communities with the Gospel. “It’s a blessing to see what is happening here tonight … Let’s continue to lift Jesus up in our respective communities,” he said.

Sena reminded those gathered that, while a diverse group, “We are one people working together in the name of Christ.”

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