By Elizabeth M. Truong
On Dec. 8, the first Hispanic ministry roundtable group to gather in St. Louis in many years met at the LCMS International Center.
Roundtable members discussed the possibilities for future Hispanic ministry in the St. Louis area and beyond. The five leaders present challenged one another to consider ways they could contribute toward increasing awareness of Hispanic ministry in the LCMS.
Attending the roundtable were the Rev. Carlos Hernandez, director of Strategic Development (including Hispanic ministry) with the LCMS Office of National Mission; the Rev. Ruben Dominguez, assistant to Hernandez; the Rev. Dr. Leopoldo Sánchez, director, and Marcos Kempff, instructor and curriculum developer, at the Center for Hispanic Studies, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; and Beatriz Hoppe of Lutheran Hour Ministries, St. Louis.
“These meetings are an important forum for us to challenge one another to be a strong voice for Hispanic ministry in the LCMS and share ideas for ministry possibilities, so that congregations and leaders can connect with the resources available to them,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez, former director of Districts and Congregations with LCMS World Relief and Human Care, was appointed July 1 to serve as the Synod’s director of Hispanic ministry in response to a resolution (1-11) that was adopted at the 2010 LCMS convention. That resolution affirms the need “for faithful and effective outreach to Hispanic people [and] for an individual for strategic development of Hispanic ministries to guide the church in this important task.”
Hernandez emphasized that the St. Louis roundtable group and other Hispanic leaders across the country are eager to continue working together to connect each other with ministry resources and to increase the visibility of ministry and outreach already taking place in Hispanic communities throughout the Synod.
Other roundtables, he said, have been taking place in the LCMS California-Hawaii-Nevada District for quite a while, with 20-plus pastors, deaconesses and vicars meeting several times a year for discussion and sharing.
Hernandez also noted that the Rev. Aurelio Magariño, president of the National Hispanic Lutheran Convention, is hoping to start more roundtables in the eastern United States, and that Dominguez will soon start some in Texas.
Hernandez said he hopes that these regional roundtable groups will develop into “regional centers” with counselors who can advise, visit, encourage and train those involved in Hispanic ministry. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has provided a grant that may be used to fund such centers.
The National Hispanic Lutheran Convention, which exists to support and encourage Hispanic ministry in the LCMS, is planning a meeting to be held in June at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Mich. The convention meets on a three-year cycle and provides an opportunity for Hispanic ministry leaders to share ideas, worship together, challenge one another and make plans for ongoing Hispanic ministry in the Synod.
Posted Jan. 6, 2012