by John Hall — July 12, 2013
SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Baptist family is gathering July 14-16 like never before.
The African American Fellowship of Texas, Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches, Vietnamese Baptist Fellowship of Texas, Lao Baptist Fellowship, Chinese Baptist Fellowship of Texas and Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas are holding their respective annual meetings in conjunction with the Baptist General Convention of Texas Annual Meeting for the first time, setting the stage for the most diverse gathering in the convention’s history.
On top of the ethnic diversity, the meeting also features opportunities for Texas Baptists of all ages. Childcare is available for the youngest Texas Baptists. Student camp experiences are being be offered.
The gathering will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.
Texas Baptists’ Executive Director David Hardage believes the meeting will be a unique event that showcases the rich diversity of Texas Baptists.
“The 2013 Texas Baptist Convention will be a remarkable experience for our family,” he said. “It will be the best opportunity for us to see what Texas truly looks like!”
Jesse Rincones, executive director of the Hispanic convention, believes the meeting – dubbed the Family Gathering – will make history.
“The Family Gathering will be a historic moment for Texas Baptists!” he said. “As we worship and fellowship together, we will be fulfilling Christ’s prayer and demonstrating to the world the wonderful unity that can be found in Him.”
John Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese fellowship, believes the family gathering is exciting.
“I would like to encourage everyone to be part of this historic gathering,” he said. “This July will be the first time we gather like this. We can celebrate together. This is a great opportunity to meet different people from difference backgrounds and cultures.”
Michael Evans, president of the African American Fellowship, looks forward to meeting new people, exchanging ideas and fostering kingdom connections. Texas Baptists may have roots in many different cultures, but they are united in their desire to honor God and share the gospel.
“This year’s Family Gathering is special because a concerted effort is being made by the entire Texas Baptist Family to come together for a time of fun and fellowship (koinonia),” he said. “Many of us hope to begin the process of forging relationships that will cause Texas Baptists to understand that our goals for mission and ministry are the same. We all desire to save lost souls.”
Leaders agree the gathering could help participants gain a wider understanding of the many ways God is working through Texas Baptists. Messengers and visitors will be inspired by people’s testimonies of reaching individuals with the good news of Christ.
“I look forward to experiencing God through the hearts and eyes of fellow believers that are outside of my cultural context,” Rincones said. “With the love of God being expressed through the various sights, sounds and character of so many different Texans with the same Spirit, I can’t help but think of it as a Texas Pentecost experience!”
Nguyen prays what happens during the Family Gathering will be a preview of even greater actions to come.
“This is only the beginning,” he said. “Together, Texas Baptists can continue this kind of spirit and work together to share our faith with those who do not have the same faith us. We can continue to support and encourage each other as the big family of Texas Baptists.”
For more information about the meeting, visit www.texasbaptists.org/annualmeeting.