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New BGCT president 'excited' to serve

Nov. 17, 2004

By JOSH HORTON, staff writer

One could say Texas Baptists have had on strong influence on newly elected Baptist General Convention of Texas President Albert Reyes' life.

"My paternal grandparents were migrant workers working in cotton fields all over the state," Reyes said. "It was in the early 1930s when my grandmother received the Gospel, then one by one each of the nine children they had accepted the Gospel."

Reyes' pastor Charles Johnson nominated Reyes for president. Johnson said Reyes has a good understanding of ministry in different cultures.

"Albert is just one of the most capable leaders we have in Baptist life today," Johnson said. "This guy gets who we are and who we are rapidly becoming. He understands what ministry in a multicultural setting is all about and Texas is a multicultural state."

Reyes said he was thrilled when he heard he had been nominated for office.

"When I was approached to be nominated for this office, I was pretty excited about it and thought it would really be a major opportunity to serve Texas Baptists," Reyes said.

He said he thinks his election as president reflects the growing racial diversity within the convention. "It is a significant issue that I've been elected as the first non-Anglo for the covention," Reyes said. "I think that it does reflect the intentions and the desires ... that Texas Baptists have to be inclusive of the cultural diversity already seen in the state today."

This year's convention was titled Celebrando la Famlia de Dios, which means "celebrating the family of God." Reyes said he thinks the convention is becoming more racially diverse.

"I think about 13 to 15 percent of the committees are composed of ethnic backgrounds," Reyes said. "I think whenever there's room at the table for ethnic minorities and other groups to lead, that builds credibility for our Baptist witness."

Johnson said he thinks Reyes will help the convention better understand Latino culture.

"In the next 15 years, half our population will be of Hispanic background," Johnson said. "I think he's going to open doors of understanding for all of us into the beauty and uniqueness of the Latino culture and that he's going to be a good teacher for all of us in understanding that very important community in our mission context."

Reyes is the president of the Baptist University of the Américas and served as BGCT first vice president last year. He was the founding pastor of Pueblo Nuevo Community Church in El Paso before becoming BUA president. President George W. Bush appointed him as chairman of the Hispanic Outreach Task Force of the White House Initiative for Hispanic Academic Excellence. He is a board member of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and Texas Baptists Committed. He earned his bachelors degree from Angelo State University and his masters and doctoral degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is working on another doctorate from Andrews University.