By / Feb 10

At the annual convention in 2015, the SBC adopted a resolution on racial reconciliation that, in part, urged “churches to demonstrate their heart for racial reconciliation by seeking to increase racial and ethnic diversity in church staff roles, leadership positions, and church membership.”

Increasing racial diversity is not the end goal, of course, and will not automatically lead to reconciliation. Yet it can be a useful metric to determine whether reconciliation is being attempted within our churches and throughout the denomination. Ideally, individual SBC churches that are living out the gospel would be attractive to people of all races and ethnicities. If a lopsided racial imbalance is occuring, it might signal that there is a divide along other lines, such as cultural or political, that should not ​​separate the people of God. 

How is the SBC faring in its goal to be more racially diverse?

To find the answer we can look to the Great Commission Relations and Mobilization (​​GCRM) Ethnic Research Network, which tracks the state of ethnicity and race in the SBC. The network is a research initiative and a shared data collaboration of Southern Baptist Research Fellowship (SBRF) and SBC entities, such as the ERLC. Through statistical and analytical research, GCRM Ethnic Research Network “tells the story of SBC diversity as well as our collaborative and cooperative effort of sharing the Gospel in every city, town, neighborhood, and community in fulfilling the Great Commission.”

Diversity by the numbers

Currently, the SBC Annual Church Profile documents that there are 50,696 congregations and 14,089,947 people in the SBC. The network tracks the state of ethnicity and race within those congregations.

As of 2020, there are 39,408 congregations that are predominantly White Anglo, 3,895 that are African American, 3,361 that are predominantly Hispanic, 1,501 predominantly other ethnicities, and 422 that are predominantly Native American. Since 2010, there has been a 33.2% increase among congregations of other ethnicities, a 20.7% increase among Asian American congregations, 10.2% increase among African American congregations. During that time there was a 3.3% decrease among White Anglo congregations and a 3.0% decrease among Native American congregations. 

  • The states with the most African American congregations are Texas (1,168), California (455), and Georgia (239). 
  • The states with the most Asian American congregations are California (445), Texas (313), North Carolina (125), and Georgia (119). 
  • The states with the most Hispanic congregations are Texas (1,353), California (376), and Florida (317). 
  • The states with the most Native American congregations are Oklahoma (185), North Carolina (78), and Arizona (26). 
  • The states with the most other ethnic congregations are Florida (465), Texas (250), California (105), and North Carolina (98). 
  • The states with the most White Anglo congregations are Texas (4,685), North Carolina (3,739), Alabama (3,090), and Georgia (3,019). 

Within those congregations, 12,642,060 individuals are White Anglo, 880,108 are African American, 223,351 are Hispanic, 173,773 are Asian American, 136,750 are other ethnicities, and 33,590 are Native American. Since 2010, there has been a 23.8% increase among other ethnicities, a 12.1% ​​increase among Asian Americans, and an 8.6% increase among Hispanics. During that time there was a 16.1% decrease among Native Americans, a 14.1% decrease among White Anglos, and a 2.1% decrease among African Americans. 

Encouraging signs of growth

Almost 1-in-4 (22.3%) Southern Baptist congregations are non-Anglo or ethnic minority congregations. In contrast, in 1990 only 8.4% of SBC congregations were non-Anglo or ethnic minority congregations. African American congregations saw the largest growth of 289.3% from 1990- 2018, while the Anglo group saw the smallest growth of 11.4%. From 1995-2000, the African American group grew by 482 congregations, and, from 2000-2005, this group grew by an additional 833 congregations.

As for church membership, from 1990-2019 ethnic minority groups increased by over one million (1,021,658). From 2000-2010, the most growth experienced among SBC membership

was among African American, Asian American, and Hispanics, with Asian American membership growing by 270.7%.

With 22.3% of our Southern Baptist congregations being non-Anglo and many worshiping in multiple languages across America, the Southern Baptist Convention may be the most multiethnic and multilingual denomination in the United States. While the SBC still has a long way to go in its pursuit of racial reconciliation, we are moving in the right direction toward ​​the first step of having a diverse convention of believers unified around a common goal to fulfill the Great Commission.

By / Sep 19

Patricia de Saladin discusses how English-speaking Christians can serve Spanish-speaking neighbors.

By / Jan 27

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, explains why hispanic evangelicals are profoundly pro-life.

By / Oct 15

Today is the last day of National Hispanic Heritage Month. This time, observed from September 15 to October 15, is set aside in the U.S. to celebrate the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to society and culture.

Here are five facts you should know in connection with this observance:

1. Hispanic is a term applied to the ethnic group that consists of people from Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish cultures. Hispanic is not a race and the term can be applied to a person from any racial group (White/Caucasian, Black/African American, Asian, etc.) or a mix of racial groups. (Nearly half of Hispanics identify their racial category as White.)

2. In 1997, the United States Government officially expanded the ethnic categorization from Hispanic to “Hispanic or Latino.” The reasoning was that Hispanic is commonly used in the eastern portion of the United States, whereas Latino is commonly used in the western portion. But while Hispanic and Latino have a considerable degree of overlap, the terms are not interchangeable. Hispanic come from Hispania, the Latin word for “Spain” while Latino is believed to be an English derivation of the Spanish word latinoamericano. Hispanic is therefore used to refer to people from Spanish-speaking countries (e.g., Spain, Central America) while Latino refers to those of Latin-American descent even if they do not speak Spanish (e.g., some Brazilians).

3. In 2014, a survey found that a majority of Latino adults (55 percent) say they are Catholic, while 16 percent are evangelical Protestants and 5 percent are mainline Protestants. Mexicans and Dominicans are more likely than other Hispanic origin groups to say they are Catholic, while Salvadorans are more likely to say they are evangelical Protestants than do Mexicans, Cubans, and Dominicans.

4. About eight-in-ten Hispanic churchgoers in the U.S. (82 percent) say their church offers Spanish-language services, 75 percent say there is Hispanic clergy at their church, and 61 percent say that most or all of the other people they worship with also are Hispanic. More than half (51 percent) say the place of worship they attend most often has all three of these characteristics.

5. Nearly six-in-ten Hispanic churchgoers (57 percent) say their church maintains close ties with countries in Latin America by sending money or missionaries to these countries or receiving clergy from countries in the region. About one-in-five Hispanics say that their place of worship does not maintain close ties to Latin American countries (21 percent) and the same share say they do not know if this is the case (21 percent).

By / Oct 14

From September 15 through October 15, we celebrate the heritage and culture of the Hispanic community.

The celebration started on September 15, mainly because of the anniversary of independence for most Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico obtained its independence on September 16 while Chile achieved independence on September 18.

This celebration continues into October to commemorate “El Día de la Raza,” or “The day of the Race,” on October 12. This day is celebrated throughout Mexico and Latin America. The day recognizes all the different cultures, traditions and languages that are interwoven in the history of Mexico, Central America and South America. These races include Native Americans, such as the Mayas, Aztecs and Incas; and European nationalities, such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

What we know today as Hispanic Heritage Month actually started as National Hispanic Heritage Week to honor the independence of Hispanic countries from September 15-18. In 1974, then President Gerald R. Ford proclaimed the week beginning September 10, 1974, and ending September 16, 1974, as National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1989, it became a month-long celebration which we now honor every year.

Spaniards, French and Portuguese were among the earliest European settlers in the New World, what is the United States today. Hispanic Americans have roots in Europe, Africa and South and Central America and close cultural ties to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Spain.

Today, the Hispanic population in the United States is estimated at 50 million people. According to the U.S. Census, the country's Hispanic population grew by 43 percent from 2000 to 2010, making it the largest and the fastest growing minority group in the country.

Every Christian can celebrate

As Christians, Hispanic Heritage Month means so much more than just a celebration of a culture. As sons and daughters of Abraham, Christians can celebrate the manifold wisdom of God displayed in His eternal plan through the church. Since the beginning, God promised Abraham that through him He would bless “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church that this promise is being fulfilled through the church as God unites all things in Christ (1:10). It is amazing that one of the many things the Lord is uniting through Christ is a people from every tribe and nation. He is gathering under Christ a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural church. Paul´s point is that in the church of Jesus Christ there are no categories or preferences. The Jew is no better than the Gentile. In Christ, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

Isn´t it amazing that God is uniting under His wings so many different cultures that many times have little in common? Every local church and every Christian has the supernatural, God-given gift of participating in God´s marvelous plan through the gospel of His Son. After all, Peter reminds us that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” And what is the purpose of that? “That you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). So, when we celebrate together this month, we are letting the world around us know that God is powerful enough to make two different cultures that had nothing in common be united under the gospel of reconciliation.

Where can you start?

The Lord is doing amazing things in the Hispanic world. From the Sonoran Desert in Mexico to the Patagonia in Argentina, God seems to be working in a special and supernatural way in what many are calling a New Hispanic Reformation. One of the things you can start doing today is to get to know specific stories of this new wave — like the ones my friend Ivan Mesa has written about in the last few months for the Gospel Coalition.

As you read these stories of grace, celebrate with your Hispanic brothers and sisters today. Celebrate God´s manifold wisdom. Celebrate our unity in our diversity. Celebrate with some tamales and enchiladas for the glory of God.

By / Oct 13

Sam Rodriguez details the growth and reach of the Hispanic Evangelical Church around the world. Rodriguez is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

By / Aug 11

Samuel Rodriguez speaks on pursuing Jesus’ agenda of justice and righteousness at the 2015 National Conference: The Gospel and Politics.

By / Jun 6

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 5, 2015 Reverend Samuel Rodriguez and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) announces evangelical theologian, ethicist and minister Dr. Russell Moore to its organizational board.

“I am happy to join my friends at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Moore said. I pray that God would enable us, together, to raise up a new generation of gospel-centered Hispanic leaders to evangelize the Americas and the rest of the world for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Moore serves as president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the nations largest Protestant denomination moral and public policy agency.

Moore has partnered with Rodriguez and NHCLC on a number of initiatives in the past including the 21 Martyrs Campaign. Moore was also a keynote speaker at the 2015 NHCLC National Convention along with presidential candidate Gov. Mike Huckabee, presumed candidate Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)

The nomination of Dr. Moore to the board emphasizes one of our most important directives and goals of the immediate futurethe cause of religious liberty and freedom here in the United States and around the world, said Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of NHCLC. We look forward to having him join our efforts to spread to fight for justice during this critical time.

This press release was originally “published”: by A. Larry Ross Communications.