Helping the Synod, its districts and educational institutions structurally adjust to the growing Hispanic presence in the United States was the theme and purpose of the first Initiatives in Hispanic Ministry Workshop held on the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis campus Feb. 18-19.
Sponsored by Concordia Seminary and its Hispanic Institute of Theology, the 54 participants included 4 LCMS university presidents, 3 LCMS district presidents, numerous heads of departments involved in assisting Hispanic ministry at the LCMS International Center, Concordia Publishing House, the International Lutheran Laymen’s League, and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. In addition, numerous Hispanic resource people from educational, mission and congregational ministries in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America participated.
These participants sought answers to the question: “What can we do as Church leaders to facilitate a more effective response to the increasing Hispanic presence in our nation?”
Major presentations included a history of the Synod’s work in Hispanic ministry, presented by Rev. Roberto Gonzalez, former National Counselor for Hispanic Ministries in the LCMS and current missionary in Puerto Rico. Dr. Leo Chavez, Head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine discussed the Hispanic immigrant experience in the United States. Dr. Edna Rehbein Aguirre, Provost of Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas, spoke of the impact of the Hispanic presence on higher education. Dr. Justo Gonzalez, widely recognized as a leading Hispanic scholar, theologian, and author delivered two lectures, the first dealing with the impact of the Conquest on the ecclesiastical structure of the United States. His keynote address, “When Hispanics Speak of God,” focused on Hispanic articulation of Christian theology.
“This event was an historic one, not only for our Seminary but the Church as well,” said Dr. John F. Johnson, President of Concordia Seminary, who served as moderator for the workshop. “The primary objective of providing a forum for key synodical education, mission, and administrative leaders to reflect on the importance of a unified and structured approach to ministry for and by Hispanics was achieved.”
Subsequent workshops in 1999 and 2000 will attempt to target sufficient leaders so that at least 100 new workers will be ready to give direction to Hispanic ministry within the LCMS as the Church enters a new century.
This event was made possible through generous funding from the Lutheran Brotherhood Foundation, Wheat Ridge Foundation, Aid Association for Lutherans, and The Biblical Charities Foundation.
(For more information, contact: Rev. Glen Thomas, Vice President for Seminary Relations, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105; 314/505-7371)