Center for Cultural Engagement Family Dinner encourages Texas Baptists toward unity for the sake of the gospel

by George Schroeder on July 18, 2023 in Annual Meeting

Michael Evans posed the question to attendees of the Center for Cultural Engagement Ministries Family Dinner: “Do you believe this evening that God has called each and every one of us to be a part of the business of the calling to go out and to make disciples of every people group? Do y’all believe that tonight?”

Cohosted by the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, the family dinner celebrated the work happening through the Center for Cultural Engagement. It takes place in conjunction with the 2023 Texas Baptists Family Gathering. Katie Frugé, director of the Center for Cultural Engagement, welcomed attendees by saying while she knows everyone thinks their baby is the most beautiful, she really believes the Center for Cultural Engagement brings together the best of Texas Baptists.

Evans gave the keynote address. Speaking from Romans 12:1-2, the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield – and a former BGCT president (and current mayor of Mansfield) – implored attendees to present themselves to God, conformed not to the world but transformed by the renewing of their minds, in order to help carry out the Great Commission. He noted the church in Rome was dealing with internal issues. While the Jews had been expelled in 49 A.D., they had been allowed to return. The church had changed in their absence.

“The landscape was now different,” he said. “Does this remind any of you of the state of Texas? One thousand two hundred fifty new people move to Texas on a daily basis. I need to tell you the landscape has changed.”

Amid that, Evans said Texas Baptists are called “to leverage our diverse gifts and resources to meet the challenges of our day.”

“Have you noticed the times we are living in?” Evans asked. “Is anybody naïve regarding our times. Children, bless their heart, are being raised via cell phones. There is treachery on Main Street, chaos on your street, and God forbid, but now even gender confusion on Sesame Street. We’re living in some strange times.

“Amorality is the social norm. Immorality is being winked at. Alternative lifestyles are being affirmed. These are strange times.”

He encouraged pastors to have courage to preach not what people wanted to hear, but only the gospel, and exhorted attendees not to “throw in the towel” but to have optimism and serve together in unity.

“Look at us,” Evans said. “We are the face of the nations. And look at all of the tools we have at our disposal: BSM, BUA, BGCT, BWA, educational institutions, TBM, WMU, medical clinics, hunger fund offerings. We can leverage this diversity.

“There is room enough for everybody at the table. Because together churches can plant more churches. We can send and support more missionaries. Together, we can feed the hungry. We can give shelter to the homeless. We can aid victims of disaster. We can do all of this together. … And we can save the unbeliever.”

Affinity Ministries Legacy awards were presented by affinity directors to leaders for impact in ministry.

  • Joe Jaime, who retired after 50 years serving as a hospital chaplain at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.

  • Fidencio Vásquez, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in La Joya.

  • Victor Castillo, founder and senior pastor of Rio Grande Bible Church in McAllen.

  • Edward Wagner, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Killeen.

  • Elmo Johnson, pastor of Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church in Houston.

  • John Nguyen, pastor of Redeemer Baptist Church in Plano.

  • Peter Leong, pastor of Grace Chinese Baptist Church in Sugar Land.

Music for the dinner was led by Chris Benites and Freedom Church in Fort Worth.

Learn more about the Center for Cultural Engagement at

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.

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