Two letters have been sent to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee — one representing Hispanic church leaders and the other from Asian American leadership — expressing concerns over the EC’s decision to eliminate associate vice president roles held by Peter Yanes and Luis Lopez.
The letters came in response to SBC Executive Committee’s Sept. 13 announcement that the EC had cut five full-time staff positions and two contractor positions in an effort to help with ongoing financial challenges. Among those impacted by the layoffs were Lopez, former executive director of Hispanic relations and mobilization, and Yanes, former executive director of Asian American relations and mobilization.
The National Hispanic Baptist Network (NHBN), which represents more than 3,300 churches, and 18 Asian American church leaders both expressed ‘disappointment’ over the elimination of both associate vice president ethnic positions. See related story on Asian American church leaders’ letter to the SBC Executive Committee here.
‘Void in these important positions’
Three Hispanic leaders, including Emanuel Roque, Hispanic multicultural catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention; Jesse Rincones, executive director of Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas: and Pete Ramirez, executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention, expressed multiple concerns in their letter, which was delivered to Jonathan Howe, interim SBC Executive Committee president.
Ramirez noted, “With a void in these important positions, where only diverse leadership can understand and minister to these specific differences, I’m not sure the EC will be able to fulfill this vital initiative.”
The letter from Hispanic leaders noted that with the removal of Lopez, they now have no representation at SBC, including the Executive Committee.
“On behalf of our more than 3,300 churches, the NHBN would like to express its disappointment at the elimination of the position of vice president of Hispanic relations and mobilization. … We believe that the decision to eliminate this position is unhelpful, short-sighted, and leaves Hispanic Baptists with no representation on the Executive Committee as well as the board of trustees (again). This represents a step backwards in our communication and collaboration when we should be moving forward together to reach and disciple the lost in the U.S. and beyond (including the more than 52,000,000 lost Hispanics in the U.S.).”
Both letters call for action from the Executive Committee. Hispanic leaders ask the EC to “meet with us in person to establish a more constructive and fruitful way forward that will result in the expansion of God’s Kingdom and the edification of His Church.”
Asian American church leaders said, “We implore you to consider alternative solutions that take into consideration and do not hinder the meaningful work that God is doing to unite and mobilize our Asian communities towards fulfilling the Great Commission as a part of the SBC. Our fervent hope is that the future will witness greater efforts in communication and transparency towards Asian and Asian-American churches in your decision-making processes.”
To read full report from the California Southern Baptist Convention, click here.