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La Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas (The Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas or HBCT) is a fellowship of about 1,200 churches affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT).

 

The BGCT – a fellowship of 5,500 churches that cooperate to focus on missions and evangelism, education and discipleship, and human welfare and advocacy in Texas and beyond – and La Convención do these ministries through 5,500 churches and 23 institutions (hospitals, universities and children’s services), facilitated by executive board staff. The current emphasis for the BGCT is Hope 2010, an effort to share, care and pray across the state.

 

La Convención will gather for its 99th annual meeting on June 28-30 in Dallas at Park Cities Baptist Church, where I am a member with my family. There will be auxiliary groups meeting such as Texas Baptist Men, Texas Woman’s Missionary Union, Sunday School, Ministers’ Conference, Ministers’ Wives Conference, a youth conference and day camp for children. Officers of La Convención will preside over business sessions, worship services and elections during the three-day meeting. Attendance usually ranges between 1,800 and 2,500 people.

 

La Convención, originally named Mexican Baptist Convention of Texas, was formed in 1910 in San Antonio with 24 churches and 36 messengers represented. At that time the HBCT was an independent convention of churches and not part of the BGCT.

 

For 50 years, La Convención operated independently and met annually to elect officers, approve a budget and begin its institutions. In 1960, the HBCT began to discuss with the BGCT the possibility of uniting these two conventions. This idea later became known as “Unification.” The Unification Agreement was approved in 1962 and ratified a year later — the same year that the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message was affirmed by the Southern Baptist Convention.

 

The meeting of La Convención is very important for several reasons.

 

  • This year marks the eve of the 100th celebration of the beginning of La Convención, also called the Centenario.

 

  • It is time to elect a new slate of officers. The new president will most likely preside over the Centenario in San Antonio next year. This is an honor and privilege as we will be celebrating 100 years of Convención history.

 

  • If Unification is to be revisited after 47 years of existence, this year would be a good year.

 

  • By 2010, Dallas will be home to more Hispanics than San Antonio. Demographics continue to change our state, and it may be time to reconsider our convention structure and budget in order to more accurately reflect the future of Baptist work in Texas.

 

  • The significance of institutions formed by La Convención is of vital importance. These institutions include Baptist University of the Americas (formerly the Mexican Baptist Bible Institute), Valley Baptist Missions Education Center (formerly Valley Baptist Academy) and the Baptist Child and Family Services (formerly the Mexican Baptist Children’s Home).

 

Albert Reyes is president of Buckner Children and Family Services in Dallas. This column first appeared on his blog.

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