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Mauricio Vargas received the Lifetime Southern Baptist Convention Hispanic Church Planting Award during the annual Hispanic Church Planting Celebration June 19 at The People's Church in Franklin, Tenn.

The stellar recognition was a family affair for Vargas, the strategist for multicultural church planting for the Missouri Baptist Convention. His wife, Carolyn; four children; grandson; three sisters; and his 97-year-old mother were among his proud supporters.

North American Mission Board president Bob Reccord made the presentation to Vargas for his contribution to Hispanic church planting throughout a long tenure of ministry in the United States.

Evangelism and church planting are "the two-pronged focus of the heart of growth of the SBC," Reccord said. "For Mauricio Vargas, you cannot separate these two from his life."

After thanking those present, Vargas challenged them to "continue being obedient. Planting churches is a great challenge, but God is good."

About 30 members of the Vargas family converged in Franklin for the pre-SBC annual meeting celebration. Vargas was surrounded by friends from across the country as the meeting adjourned. Many expressed their appreciation to him for his life and ministry.

The El Salvador native is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He started Primera Iglesia Bautista in New Orleans and began another church in Baton Rouge.

Vargas moved to North Carolina to become a migrant director, started a church among Mexicans and was named director of language ministries for the North Carolina Baptist Convention.

The affable leader has held a number of positions in Missouri, including service in refugee and resettlement services. Previously, NAMB presented him with its Kaleidoscope Award for his interfaith witness and church planting work.

Through the years, he has led mission groups to Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Belarus and Mexico. He has held various posts with community service groups and in 2004 was appointed by former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden to the Commission on Hispanic Concerns. (06-29-05)

 
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