Nuevo Amanecer represents 'A New Dawn' for Hispanic and Latino ministries
By Nan Ross, July 02, 2008
An Episcopal Church conference on Hispanic and Latino ministry underway this week near Atlanta has gathered more than 200 people from diverse Spanish-speaking communities in eight countries to share in the challenges and blessings of their ministries and chart a course for continued growth.
"A New Dawn -- Nuevo Amanecer -- Together We Grow and Are Strengthened," represents the first time in six years that Episcopalians engaged in Hispanic and Latino ministries have come together. The entire program is offered in Spanish, with English translation available throughout.
At the opening Eucharist June 30, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori encouraged participants to examine "Why are we here? What is our mission? What is our vocation as Christian brothers and sisters?" And she reminded them, "Jesus' ministry belongs to all people who are baptized, not just bishops and clergy."
In her sermon, preached in Spanish, Jefferts Schori used Old and New Testament lessons for the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. Both readings use shepherds and sheep as metaphors to convey the vision of God, she said. And the vision of God "involves caring for all of the sheep, which means offering justice for all.
"It is our role, our work, to raise a strong voice in the wilderness," she said. "Only with a strong voice will we be able to challenge injustice."
Pastoral care is one of the more urgent topics being discussed. With tougher immigration laws being implemented in various parts of the country, a great deal of Hispanic and Latino ministry involves people who are feeling the pain of families torn apart by a legal system that's not as tolerant as it once was.
"Families are being divided because in the same family some are residents and some are not," said Soto.
"What is the church called to do?" Soto said. "The great Anglican theologian Richard Hooker told us to look to scripture, tradition and reason. The Hebrew scripture says the alien shall be as a citizen; the alien shall be given food and treated as if born here. We are too far from that concept. We are Episcopalians, and we have made the promise that we will treat every human being with dignity."
It was wonderful