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‘EtniCiudad’ Spanish/English conference to explore reaching lost in urban centers

By Barbara Denman

January 4, 2013

National event at state office in Hialeah brings NAMB & IMB together

HIALEAH (FBC)—A national conference designed to explore the urbanization of the world and how to engage the unreached in urban centers will be held in Spanish and translated into English at the Florida Baptist Convention’s Urban Impact Center in Hialeah Feb. 28-March 1, 2013.

“EtniCiudad” or “Ethnicity” is one of several national conferences being held across the United States sponsored by the Florida Baptist Convention, the International Mission Board, and the North American Mission Board.

The meeting will equip mission leaders and church planting strategists to reach unreached people groups in their indigenous homeland in urban centers and provide an environment for mission leaders and international and U.S. church planting strategists to network and develop opportunities to work together.

The conference began as a joint venture between the Southern Baptist mission boards with the belief that IMB personnel’s expertise in reaching international people groups could benefit North American missionaries and pastors in their efforts to discover unreached people groups within the nation’s urban centers.

The original “Ethnicity” conference was held this year in New York City in English, however because of South Florida’s unique cultural composition, the Hialeah conference, EtniCiudad, will be led in Spanish and translated into English.

Al Fernandez, lead strategist for the Florida Baptist Church Planting Group, said this unique language approach will attract Hispanic churches who “feel disconnected from SBC life. Having a national conference in their language will be a good way to communicate inclusion.”

“Many of our Hispanic churches do not think missionally,” Fernandez said. “They tend to focus only on the Hispanic and are satisfied they are reaching different nationalities that speak Spanish.”

“If we are going to reach North America for Christ, this fast growing segment of SBC life must catch the vision and the responsibility to reach all people in their communities.”

Emanual Roque, strategist for the Leadership Development Ministries Team, added, “In SBC circles, this is the first strong effort at challenging Hispanics out of their culture to make serious attempts at reaching other cultures already present within our cities.”

Roque explained that while the call to reach the cities and urbanization is not new, “there is a new grasp and understanding of what it will take to reach urban centers where 90 percent of the world population will live by 2050.

“This is an opportunity to try to understand how the needs, missions perspective and resulting partnerships can be achieved from Hispanic SBC churches to reach other ethnic groups in their cities.”

During the two-day event, networking and thematic breakout session will be offered in both languages. Special emphases and awareness of ethnics in cities that Hispanics could reach will be available.

“Missiology from a city, ethnic and urban perspective will be taught. ‘Movement makers’ will show how in other places millions of people have been reached through Gospel penetration and missional living of the church in cities,” Roque explained.

He cited two examples—the house movement and small groups in Cuba that have reached more than a million people in 100,000 groups; and another movement in Tokyo/China that has reached literally millions through indigenous evangelism, discipleship and massive reproduction.

Among the techniques taught will be “mapping,” which involves research to discover where people groups live and then going out into communities to identify the people groups. Fernandez said the Convention’s Church Planting Group has been trained in this technique.

Also, a city discovery tour will take participants to different parts of Miami by where they will attend planned events by traveling on foot and by train.

Deris Coto, Language Church Development strategist for the convention, believes the conference will have long-reaching benefits for the Kingdom. “Our Hispanic churches need to understand and accept the current reality of the new missionary map in which we live in our state of Florida,” he explained.

“Given the circumstances of the global crisis and the influx of immigrants from the world into our cities, our Hispanic churches need to be sensitive to those people groups that God has chosen to bring among our Hispanic pockets and define strategies to share with them that Jesus is our only hope,” he said.

Roque agreed, “If we can get beyond ethnocentric positioning and see the lost cities together then God can use our diversity and complementary strengths to see many won to Christ.”

Cost of registration for the event until Feb. 18 is $25 and $30 at the door.

For registration or additional info, email etniciudad@flbaptist.org, or call 800-226-8584, ext. 4060, or go to www.etniciudad.com. Limited housing is available.

The Urban Impact Center is located at 140 East 7th St., Hialeah, FL 33010.

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