America’s rising Hispanic population has caused questions to be raised in politics, education and, according to Dr. Wilfredo Estrada of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, within the church.
Estrada and other Latino church leaders have noticed rising needs among the growing population.
“[One] of the things we are facing right now in America is the training of ministers,” Estrada said. “Most of our ministers do not have a master’s level education.”
The Center for Latino Studies at PTS was created as a pilot program in January 2012 in response to these challenges.
Hispanic ministers in need of furthering their education work with the center to gain the preliminary education required before pursuing a master’s level degree.
Estrada explained educating ministers is only one of the problems faced by the Hispanic church.
He determined hosting a conference at the seminary would effectively start the conversation. This led to the Latino Pentecostal Theological Summit to be held Tuesday, Oct. 8, and Wednesday, Oct. 9. The conference brings together key Spanish educators to talk on a variety of subjects.
“We are bringing in people who are experts in the area they are working,” Estrada said before offering an example. “[Dr. Miriam Figueroa] will address the issue of ministry among women in the church. This is still an issue we are dealing with [in the states].”
Additional speakers and topics include, but are not limited to: The Mission of the Contemporary Church in Light of the Book of Acts, Dr. Jose Daniel Montanez; The Holy Spirit and Pentecostal Church Ethics, Luis Rodriguez; The Development of Wesleyan-Pentecostal Theology Among Hispanics in the United States Methodology and Progression, Dr. Samuel Alfaro; and A Constructive Analysis about Coincidence and Differences of Wesleyan and Reformed Pentecostal Theology.
Estrada encouraged church leaders from different denominations to join the conference. He explained the issues faced by Hispanics goes beyond the 80,000 members within the Church of God. Church members interested in attending the conference are also welcome.
More than 80 attendees are arriving from out of state. These visitors hail from places like New York, California, Florida and Puerto Rico. Estrada emphasized how important it is to have visitors from across the country, “to help us analyze and study the agenda we have put together to serve the needs of the Latinos in the United States.”
According to Estrada, the conference is not meant to be a one-time event. A committee will be formed to follow up on ideas discussed during the summit. The information gathered will first be published in Spanish, then in English.
“Most of the time, people have an event and when the event finishes, that is it,” Estrada said. “In my case, I am trying to see what kind of recommendations we will have out of this summit, so we can work out an agenda to minister and meet the needs that Hispanics within the church have here in the states.”
The conference days will begin at 8:20 a.m. with a continental breakfast. A series of morning presentations will then follow from 9 to 11:55. The afternoon session will begin at noon on Monday and continue until 4 p.m. A three-hour break will end with the 7 p.m. worship service celebration.
Wednesday’s morning presentations will once again go from 9 until 11:55. One afternoon presentation will occur at noon before the ribbon cutting of the Latino Studies House at 2.
The cost of the conference is $60 per person. More information on the event can be found by contacting Dr. Estrada at 423-478-7676.