For the first time, the 2014 Evangelism and Church Growth Conference — held here Aug. 11-14 —  offered language-specific tracks for Brazilians (Portuguese), Hispanics and Koreans.

“Because of this, leaders and families are coming with their pastors,” said Almir Dias of the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Portuguese Language Field Staff. “For me and my people, this is the church meeting we most look forward to coming to.”

After working in the Hispanic/Latino-a Congregational Support office for a year and a half, Dias has seen how closely aligned his work is with what he experienced at this conference.

Pointing to the bracelet given to all conference attendees, he mouthed the words “evangelism” and “church growth.”   

“We have the same vision: to make disciples,” he said.

When the 500 conference attendees gather for meals and worship — one can see many nations represented.

“It is great to come together, but also good to be in our language-specific tracks to affirm our roots and find ways to support each other in our different contexts,” said Hector Rodriquez, associate for Hispanic/Latino-a Congregational Support.

One of the many tables representing diversity during ECG2014 luncheon.

One of the many tables representing diversity during ECG2014 luncheon. —Paul Seebeck

Evangelism and Church Growth director Eric Hoey said the diversity of the conference began with a desire to form relationships with racial-ethnic partners. 

“We recognized we were doing the same work: planting churches and starting new things,” Hoey said. “The growing number of language tracks are a reflection of the composition of our new worshiping communities and the changing demographics of our society.”

In addition to the language-specific tracks, the conference offered multicultural and African American tracks, with specific events for African immigrant pastors. A diverse group of Asians — Vietnamese, Chinese, Taiwanese and Burmese — were also at the conference.

“God is doing a new thing amongst us,” Hoey said. “One small piece of this that conference attendees seemed to deeply appreciate was using some of the language-specific hymns from Glory to God during worship.”

On Aug, 12, the conference also held morning worship on the beach for the first time —where the diversity of praise was evident. Click here to watch a video of the worship service.