Annual meeting will highlight Florida Baptists’ diversity

Florida Baptist Haitian pastors will again gather for fellowship and inspiration during the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. (Ken Touchton/Florida Baptist Convention)The diversity of Florida Baptists will be celebrated during the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention as speakers, choirs and fellowship meetings share their unique expressions of faiths, many in their own languages. 

“Our Florida Baptist family is beautifully diverse in cultures, languages and expressions,” said Emanuel Roque, Florida Baptists’ Hispanic catalyst. “As part of celebrating that unity within diversity it’s important to recognize existing affinities and expressions.”

“It is exciting that we are intentional in presenting our diversity through program personnel and meetings held in conjunction with the annual meeting,” said Patrick Coats, Florida Baptists’ Black Multicultural consultant. “We are making sure all of our family is reflected at the meeting of Florida Baptists.”

The two-day annual gathering set for Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater will host the Hispanic Baptist State Fellowship, the Haitian Baptist State Fellowship and a luncheon for the Black Multicultural Church Fellowship.

Biblical messages presented during the Convention meeting will demonstrate the cultural diversity of Florida Baptists with preachers Erik Cummings, senior pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, a multicultural congregation in Miami; and Louis Egipciaco, lead pastor of Elevate Church in Miami Lakes, a predominately Hispanic community.

The two-day meeting also will focus on a range of worship styles as musicians from Central Baptist Church in Tampa and a combined Haitian choir will lead music Tuesday morning.

“The choir, a combination of members from various Haitian churches throughout the state, will come together as one big choir to help praise and exalt the name of our most high God who reigns in heaven eternally,” said John Voltaire, Haitian catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention

Voltaire expects more than 100 Haitian pastors and church members to attend the statewide meeting.

“Although Haiti has recently been ravaged by a Category 4 hurricane, which causes many of our pastors and churches to refocus some of their attention and resources toward sending help back home to their families, they are still looking for a great time of worship, exhortation and fellowship in Clearwater,” he said.

The Haitian church leaders will gather Monday from 2-6 p.m. “There we will worship together, cry out before God for Haiti and listen to the exhortation of the Word of God in our native Creole,” Voltaire said.

The Black Multicultural church leaders will meet Monday at noon for lunch at the host church. The time will be for fellowship and networking, said Coats.

At least 150 Hispanic pastors and wives, as well as ministry leaders from all over Florida, are expected to attend the Hispanic Fellowship Monday at 2 p.m. in Calvary’s Student Center. The meeting will provide inspiration, worship and fellowship.

“Besides yearly activities and gatherings this meeting at the annual Convention is a way of including and recognizing our presence, importance and unique expressions,” said Roque.

“At the same time there is an understanding and commitment to being a part of the overall annual meeting as messengers and participants through commitment and unity within that diversity. We are a great Florida Baptist family.”

The Hispanic conference speakers will include Ernesto Humeniuk, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Vida en Cristo in Miami, who will teach on the “Faith Entrusted to the Saints—Jude 1,” explained Roque, to focus on the “Exhort” instruction found in the FBSC theme, “Gathering to Exhort, Stir Up, Send Out.”

Other speakers will be career missionary Hugo Redmond, Hispanic pastor at First Baptist Church of Panama City, who will preach on the theme’s “Sent” directive; and Israel Cordoves, pastor from Iglesia Bautista Hispana de West Palm Beach and outgoing Hispanic State Baptist Fellowship president. A new group of Hispanic Baptist State Fellowship officers will be elected. Eloy Rodriguez from Idlewild Baptist Church, Español, will bring his worship team for the event.

Tommy Green, Florida Baptist Convention’s executive director-treasurer, is expected to provide greetings at each fellowship gathering.

All of the auxiliary meetings will be held prior to the start of the FBSC so all can participate in the Convention sessions.

Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention (flbaptist.org).

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