After the events of last week, I have to admit that I am finding it difficult to regain focus on some of the tasks at hand. My heart is heavy and the tears still come easily. I don’t want to be dismissive and say “life must go on” but at some point I have to put aside social media and turn off NPR and get back to work although I will continue to share pertinent details as I learn of them. We still have many important resolutions to address…
This week I’d like us to consider two resolutions:
A033: Support Latinas in Ordained Ministry
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministries to work with the Justice and Advocacy Ministries office, and diocesan and provincial multicultural missioners, to discern and recommend steps to empower Latinas for ordained leadership in the Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministries to work with the Office of Transition Ministries, the Office of Justice and Advocacy Ministries, and diocesan and provincial multicultural missioners to review canons, policies, and practices related to the formation and ordination processes and to eliminate gender and cultural biases that mitigate against the ordination of Latinas; and be it further
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to allocate $10,000 for the triennium to seed the development of ordained Latina leadership.
A034: Support Latinas in Lay Ministry
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministries to work with the Office of Justice and Advocacy Ministries, and with diocesan and provincial multicultural missioners, in supporting programs to develop leadership skills for Latina youth and young adults; and be it further
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to allocate $10,000 for the triennium to seed the development of Latina lay leadership.
Since these resolutions deal with issues about which I am unfamiliar, I went to our diocesan Latinx missioner, the Rev. Juan Perez. Padre Juan explained that these resolutions likely grew out of the 2009 document: “The Episcopal Church’s Strategic Vision for Reaching Latinos/Hispanics.” The introduction to their report states that “the dramatic increase in the numbers of Latinos/Hispanics in communities throughout the country should be seen as an evangelistic opportunity and hope for the church” and that “as the report by the 20/20 task force put it in 2001, ‘Such radically changing demographics should encourage the church to be courageous, resourceful, passionate, and enthusiastic in its response to these new circumstances.’” You can read the full document here – http://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/strategic_vision_7-09.pdf
The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan is blessed to have begun work in the Latinx communities of Detroit with the birth of Santa Teresa y San Juan under the care of Padre Juan. But equipping individuals for Latinx ministry is not easy. Juan explained that there are many obstacles to navigate:
- There are currently very few priests and deacons that can provide culturally appropriate pastoral care in Spanish.
- Hispanic Ministry is not part of the core curriculum in seminaries.
- There are also very few liturgical resources to aid in the development of Latinx ministry. It was just recently that a Gospel book in Spanish was created as well a book with the lectionary in Spanish.
- The Spanish Hymnal currently is not in print and there is hardly any training for Spanish Music Ministry.
- There is also a lack of spiritual resources in Spanish available to help in providing for the spiritual development of Latinx.
Juan told me that the lack of resources makes it particularly difficult to encourage others to begin looking at a call to Latinx ministry. Currently, Latinx missioners are in conversation with one another about these challenges: “It is difficult to develop lay leadership – let alone a thriving worshiping community – without basic resources. Then, when lay leadership starts to develop it is hard to promote their growth due to a lack of courses or trainings available in Spanish.”
And that’s not all. Juan continued: “Often when a Latinx is discerning a call to ordained ministry, going away to seminary is out of the question – especially in families where everyone shares in financial support – so, often many choose not to move forward with discerning a call. That is why there is a church-wide need to create and support alternative ways for individuals to fully discern their call to ordained ministry that would allow for them to meet family obligations.”
You probably noticed that the resolutions above specifically asked for help in supporting the call of women to Latinx ministry and lay leadership. This addresses another challenge since the prevailing culture has been historically male-dominated. Gender biases and expectations of gender-based roles continue that can make it difficult for women to respond to this call. Changing the dominant paradigm of a culture is exceedingly hard.
Generally, when I am sharing these resolutions with you, I can find a long list of actions that you might consider in response to the selected resolution. This week, I’m at a loss. There’s no easy formula for success here. I can suggest that we begin by becoming informed about the Latinx ministry at Santa Teresa y San Juan and Padre Juan’s ministry. “Like”: their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/IglesiaDetroit/?fref=nf Check out their webpage – http://teresayjuan.org/ And talk to Padre Juan.
The Episcopal Church has prepared a short video with the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding bishop for Evangelism and Reconciliation (who is coming to our diocese to speak in September for Epiphanies!) that speaks to the exciting work that TEC is planning.- http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/video/stephanie-spellers-church-planting-and-latino-ministries
As with so much of what I write in Nuts and Bolts, the work is not done. I will continue to bring you information from Padre Juan about ways we can specifically help his ministry and the people of his community. And, of course, we can pray.
Let us pray –
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole
body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified:
Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you. We ask that you might open the hearts of those you call to minister in the Latinx communities and that we hear your call to support and encourage them through the gifts that you have given each of us, that together we can share the Good News of Christ to all. We ask all this through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because we know you love it when we pray.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee