Noe Garcia, senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, was elected by acclamation as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the June 11-12 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.
In nominating Garcia, Micah Fries, senior pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., said, “Noe is a good man who has led his church extremely well. … Noe’s story is one of grace and redemption. He grew up in an extremely broken home. He began using drugs and alcohol in the 6th grade. He continued walking away from the Lord until this culminated with a suicide attempt at 18 years old. It was after this that God began to grab his heart. He was gloriously saved. He began to walk faithfully with Jesus.”
North Phoenix has seen significant growth under the leadership of Garcia, said Fries.
North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear was reelected by acclamation to a second term as president.
He will lead a diverse slate of officers, including: Marshal Ausberry, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax, Va., first vice president; Garcia, second vice president; John Yeats executive director of Missouri Baptist Convention, recording secretary; and Kathy Litton, director of planter spouse development for North American Mission Board, the first woman to serve as registration secretary.
Prior to the SBC annual meeting, Garcia participated in a roundtable on racial reconciliation at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in Birmingham June 10. The panel, moderated by former SBC President Fred Luter Jr., pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, included eight pastors, church staff members and other ministers, including John Shillington, executive advisor at North Phoenix.
Luter noted that the three goals of the panel were to “encourage you in your field of ministry, challenge you to do more in the area of racial reconciliation, and to inspire all of us to strive to make our churches, ministries and our communities on earth what heaven is going to be like.”
Garcia talked about North Phoenix as an example of racial reconciliation. He explained that the Phoenix area was a highly diverse area, but the church was nearly 90 percent Anglo, and as a Hispanic, he was the only non-Anglo on the church staff when he arrived in 2016.
Through gradual changes in the church’s ministry over time, such as offering different styles and languages during worship, the church became one of the most diverse churches in the country, split nearly 50-50 between Anglo and non-Anglo members.
Garcia added that a key to defeating the problem of racial tension is to admit that there is a problem and genuinely give different ethnicities a voice.
“If something is going to be reconciled, one or both parties have to recognize that there’s a problem and there’s something broken,” Garcia said. “You can have a seat at the table, without having a voice to really speak into the future.”
Garcia asked pastors and church leaders to veer away from tokenism, but toward developing leaders of all different ethnicities for the next generation.
“We were good at feeding the least of these, but we were not good at taking the least of these and making them leaders in the church because we had forgotten that we used to be the least of these.”
–Compiled from Baptist Press. See more news about the SBC annual meeting at sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc19/news/ or at bpnews.net.