ALPHARETTA, Ga.— The North American Mission Board announced Vancouver as the next city in focus for their outreach effort because of the area’s strong Southern Baptist base. The preparation for the joint effort by the NAMB, Canadian Convention of Southern Baptist and churches of the Capilano Baptist association, will begin this year with the primary implementation phase set for 2006.
Vancouver will be the ninth major North American city to be impacted by “Strategic Focus City” – the Southern Baptist Convention’s mission’s effort that began in 2000. Other cities impacted by SFC are Chicago, Phoenix, Boston, Las Vegas, Seattle and Philadelphia. This is the first year of implementation for the Miami effort. Next year a two-year implementation period will begin for New York City
As of the end of 2002, more than 37,000 individuals had made first-time commitments to Christ through SFC initiatives, and 255 new churches were started to help new believers grow in their faith and reach others. A total of 28,947 volunteers from across the country were mobilized for a variety of outreach efforts.
Hundreds of volunteers will be gathered for the ministry projects planned for Vancouver; the city is known as a North American gateway for Asian immigrants, with a 25 percent Asian demographic.
"We're very excited about the choice of Vancouver as a Strategic Focus City," said Gerry Taillon, national ministry team leader for the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. "We feel like it's a wonderful opportunity to work in a world-class city like Vancouver. And it's a great opportunity for the churches in Vancouver to really sense God's direction and guidance, and get together to see what they can do to impact the Kingdom of God."
The effort is "a wonderful opportunity to not only impact Vancouver and the surrounding areas, but to impact the world," he continued.
Doug Metzger, director of the NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities team noted the large concentration of Asians in the area. "By the year 2020 Vancouver is projected to be the largest city with a Chinese population outside of the Orient," he said.
The 2001 population of Vancouver is estimated at about 582,000, with about 2 million people living in the metropolitan area. The region makes up about half of the total population of British Columbia -- southern Canada's westernmost province.
According to Metzger, the SFC process will begin with the selection of a coordinator for the effort, followed by the formation of teams of local leaders who will help shape the strategy for Vancouver. The process generally calls for two years of strategy developed, followed by one year of implementation and two years of follow-up efforts.
Gary Frost, vice president for NAMB's strategic initiatives group, called on all Southern Baptists to pray for the effort, and showed how they could be involved.
"We would like to see, first of all, a prayer response because we know that unless God cultivates the soil any planting that we do there will be unsuccessful," he said. "And so we need the body of Christ to be praying, and also planning to come to join us there during our years of implementation."
"From our assessment, we have seen that God is up to something in Vancouver and we want to join him there," he said.
By Pauline J.