The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri and the Baptist General Convention of Missouri recognize the growth of the Hispanic population in Missouri and are seeking ways to minister.
CBF of Missouri looks for collaborative partnerships, rather than seeking to begin specific programs, according to coordinator Harold Phillips. That is the approach the 19-year-old entity takes with Hispanic ministry.
He cited the example of Daniel Hernandez, a church starter in St. Louis. CBFMO worked with Paul Powell, retired pastor of Kingshighway Baptist Church, and with national CBF to assist Hernandez launch a new work five years ago.
The state body also assisted an Hispanic congregation that met at Memorial Baptist Church, Columbia, with a stipend for a short time.
“What we want to do is find pockets of interest that coincide with our values and then partner to make ‘more’ and ‘better’ happen,” Phillips said by e-mail.
He added that CBFMO hopes to have a partnership to develop Hispanic pastors and lay leaders. “Our strong belief is that if ‘we’ (CBFMO staff) do that, it will just be another denominational program and not have much value. Hence, the waiting and working on a more collaborative partnership opportunity,” he said.
In its five-year history, the BGCM has had limited work among Hispanics. It has been partnering with Wyatt Park Baptist Church, St. Joseph, to begin ministry in that area. Four or five congregations are working together to help a pastor from Mexico obtain a visa and begin the work, according to missions mobilization team leader Gary Snowden.
However, the entity plans to increase cross-cultural efforts, including ministry among Hispanics, over the next five years. Its First Priority strategy plan, launched at its annual meeting in March, calls for expanding mission partnerships and assisting with 10 new ethnic works each year.
“Those might not be all Hispanic, of course, but I think the population numbers would suggest that they ought to be a major focus of our work,” Snowden said by e-mail.
The team leader, who also is associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit, noted that his church has ministered through English as a Second Language classes.
“I think a logical first step for many (churches) would be to begin an ESL program as a ministry to meet the needs of newly arrived Hispanics, with a goal of perhaps later that group evolving into a Bible study or new mission work,” he said.
American Baptist Churches, USA, also has worked among Hispanics in Missouri and has one church in the Kansas City area.