Although the SBC's Christian Life Commission (CLC) literature states clearly that "at present the issue of race relations [inside and outside the SBC in the United States] still centers primarily around the relationship of Whites and Blacks," the CLC is increasingly aware that its relations with other growing ethnic groups must be taken seriously.

According to SBC figures, there are 9,000 Southern Baptist churches speaking 100 non-English languages in the United States and its territories. As of 1992, about 3,400 were Hispanic churches; more than 2,000 were Asian churches, which between 1980 and 1992 showed a 904 percent growth rate.

Says Chinese-American Simon Tsoi, who last year was elected SBC first vice president, "We are the only denomination in the world that has placed so much emphasis on all people, not just Anglos."

"The growth of the Southern Baptist Convention in the North [U.S.] is due to the ethnic churches, because we have run out of Southerners in the North," explains Hispanic-American Oscar Romo, who recently retired as director of the Division of Language Church Extension at the SBC Home Mission Board. According to Romo, without the ethnic church growth seen by the SBC in the last two years, the denomination as a whole would be declining at a rate of more than 2 percent.

Just look at what 150 years can do.


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