By Daniel D’Oleo
Please see this report as gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the first Latino meeting organized by Christian Churches Together on Oct. 14-16. I felt humbly privileged by the opportunity to spend time with the directors of Latino Ministry of several denominations, among them: Catholics Pentecostals, American Reformed, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Presbyterian, American Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and of course the Church of the Brethren.
The Church of the Brethren was represented by pastors Joel Peña, Richard and Becky Zapata, and Daniel D’Oleo.
The executive directors for Bread for the World, Christian Churches Together, and the Virginia Chapter director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference attended.
Some of the purpose of this meeting involved: developing relationship with other Latino/Latina leaders, praying together, celebrating unity in Christ, and coordinating common actions in support of the Latino community.
Our first gathering was held at the offices of the Evangelical Covenant Church and part of the agenda included time for sharing personal background and ministerial/leadership responsibilities in the context of our faith tradition. We also spent time in identifying aspects that we share in common as well as differences in small groups. At dinner time we went to a local restaurant where we had more time for informal sharing, story telling, and jokes.
In the second gathering we spent time praying for different personal, family, and ministry concerns. We also spent some time discussing the immigrant reality in this country as well as the immigrant unaccompanied minors, which has become a national emergency. We talked about what our pastoral response should be and if there were any alternatives to help aleviate the problems. Several ideas and possible resources now in place by the different denominations represented were mentioned and offered.
At the end, the question if this group should continue meeting was raised and the absolute response was a “yes.” A committee of nine people was formed, with Carlos Malave, executive director of Christian Churches Together, as the chair.
The Church of the Brethren participants also met with:
— Gimbiya Kettering, Intercultural Ministry coordinator–conversation in regard to immigration issues, the Latino community, and the future of reaching the Latino community
— Chris Douglas, Annual Conference director–conversation about more Latino representation at Annual Conference
— Becky Ullom Naugle, director for Youth and Young Adult ministry–idea of promoting the Christian Citizenship Seminar among Spanish speaking congregations
— Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries–conversations in regard to Hispanic ministry, immigration issues, and cross-cultural participation.
I would like to thank Renacer Hispanic Ministry, Gimbiya Kettering, Congregational Life Ministries, and Brethren World Mission for the opportunity given to network and become part of all these conversations. Please continue praying for Renacer Hispanic Ministry and our relationship with the denomination in general. Gracias.
— Daniel D’Oleo is a leader in the Renacer Hispanic Ministry in the Church of the Brethren and pastors Iglesia Cristiana Renacer in Roanoke, Va.