That’s what nearly two hundred United Methodist lay and clergy, i
ncluding six bishops, did for the three days of the Third National Consultation on Hispanic/Latino Ministry. The event, which was held at Duke Divinity School, featured three keynote presentations and responses, lively worship, a lifetime achievement presentation during a leadership celebration banquet and, perhaps most importantly, and seven-and-a-half hours of working group discussions.
“It was a connecting with the diversity, the people of God’s kingdom,” according to Rev. Francisco Cañas, director of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries. A new generation of leaders was evident in large numbers. “The many young people are part of the diversity that I’m talking about, diversity in generations, in perspectives, in understanding.”
The foundation for the National Consultation started “many months ago,” Cañas said. “It began with a biblical text. It took place in a community.” From the outset there was an essential understanding – “our task is to listen and respect what others are able to share. God continues to talk to us through God’s people.”
“We were intentional when we called the meeting a consultation. We understood how important it is to consult with each other. We were able to express the pain and sorrow and, at the same time, our dreams. We were able to share stories. We were able to talk about what we are doing and what we are called to do.”
And the participants did talk…in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. What was said during the four sessions over the course of two days was recorded through Google Docs. The collaborative effort led to seven preliminary recommendations:
- Raise up and support young Hispanic/Latino leaders as “bridge builders” and partners in ministry for the church and world
- Create cultural competence across the whole church
- Evaluate and improve the standards for, and development and equipping of, mentors and coaches for relevant spiritual leadership
- Recognizing Hispanics/Latinos as valuable gifts to the Church and the world
- Create collective, collaborative leadership structures that honor and validate all forms of ministry – laity and clergy – to facilitate all peoples’ journeys into ministry
- Invest in intercultural and multicultural ministry
- Equip and support the church out in the community and with the community, including enabling action for social holiness and transformational justice (racial justice, LGBTQ justice, gender equality, and immigration)
The participants from the Third National Consultation were challenged to “take responsibility for what happened here, continue the conversation, and make a commitment” to take action. “God is using many ways to move God’s people,” Cañas noted. “We are at Duke because Hispanic/Latinos are here in significant numbers as well as in Chicago or Nebraska or Iowa.” In short, for Cañas, people need to have an opportunity to be connecting because “we are everywhere the Gospel needs to be everywhere.”
*The story was written by Dr. Arthur McClanahan, Director of Communications for the Iowa Conference. He was a participant in the National Consultation.